Niamh McCarthy caught up with local artist and painting tutor Katrina McGettigan

images: provided

Making a living through our hobbies and interests is something most of us dream about but rarely achieve. Methven born artist Katrina McGettigan has been lucky enough to make this happen, and confirms it takes a huge amount of dedication and hard work.

She has just opened a gallery in Christchurch, exhibits at several art shows,  runs 17 art classes a week between Ashburton and Christchurch, manages her client commissions and has just launched an online painting class via Facebook. She certainly is a busy woman but admits combining her passions of art and teaching is a dream come true. It was always just a blur in the back of my head – I never thought it would actually happen!”

Katrina’s love of art started relatively late in life. She studied interior design at University before heading overseas. On her return, she studied Early Childhood Education, and her interest in began to develop as she realised the beauty of her native landscapes. Her first ever painting was a birthday gift to her sister – a poppy scene photographed while on her travels in Italy. She painted on the floor of her lounge and it was trial and error until she got her technique just right. Everyone loved the painting and it gave Katrina the confidence to hold an exhibition of her work in Methven. She exhibited 15 paintings, sold nine, and was blown away by the interest in her work.

But it wasn’t until 2015 that Katrina decided to take the plunge and resign from her Early Childhood teaching post and concentrate on art and teaching art. An exhibition at the Christchurch Art Show had again elicited huge enthusiasm toward her work, but she admits it was still a very scary step. “It’s hard to make a living through painting – not many people do.”

The idea of teaching art came about after she held a one-off painting workshop with some of her preschool children –a beach scene. She was very surprised at how quickly the children picked up the techniques and how much they loved it. Her classes are suitable for kids aged four and above, but she says she also has a few three-year-olds. I can’t imagine my lively two-year-old ever sitting still and listening to instructions, but Katrina says the younger kids are so excited to be grouped with older kids it brings out the best in their behaviour and concentration. “They are so relaxed and settled it’s amazing.”

Teaching adults brings different challenges according to Katrina. One of the main issues with adults is confidence. “Kids aren’t afraid – you can put anything in front of them and it’s not scary – whereas adults worry about doing everything right”. Her adult classes have a mix of students from all walks of life: retired people, mothers and daughters, people visiting family on extended holidays. Her oldest student is 90 and her youngest is an extremely gifted 12-year-old girl whose talent she describes as “unbelievable.”

Finding the balance between her teaching and painting is often a struggle for Katrina. She opened her gallery in Christchurch last year, and is keen to have more artists exhibit there. With such a busy schedule she does plan to take some time out this summer and travel, and of course, gather inspiration. “I find everywhere I drive I start admiring the landscape and suddenly it’s a painting!” Info on art classes and Katrina’s work can be found on her website




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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.