How Does Landscape Art Contain Emotion? | NZ Fine Prints

How Does Landscape Art Contain Emotion?

Painting of NZ landscape with sea surrounded by hills

If you’ve ever looked at landscape art you might have wondered what the artist was trying to capture. As with most art, understanding an artist’s intention can require some time. Look long enough at a landscape painting, and you might be able to feel the emotions that the painter was trying to capture! Landscapes make popular art prints for their ability to evoke emotions. In today’s blog post, we’re exploring which techniques artists use to create evocative landscapes.


The history of landscapes

The most famous landscape artists are usually associated with the Romanticism movement in art. There’s a whole range of styles within romantic landscape paintings, from peaceful, pastoral visions of nature, to awe-inspiring visions of mountains and storms. A lot of romantic landscapes were used to comment on religious or philosophical ideas, but it was in this movement that the association between landscapes and emotion was forged. This association more or less still exists today; we still expect contemporary landscape art to evoke emotions when we look at it. In many ways, the Romanticists set the blueprint for the common techniques used in landscapes, especially in regard to capturing certain emotions. Below, we’re going to look at three.


1. Colour

The colours chosen by an artist can have a huge impact on the effect it will produce for the audience. One of the most famous landscape painters, Joseph Mallord William Turner (usually just called Willian Turner), was a master at using colour in landscapes. In fact, Turner was a key reason that landscape paintings became popular in the first place. Turner painted both sunsets and sunrises over Venice multiple times in his life, and in all these paintings the colours aren’t necessarily realistic. Often, he painted scenes like this with a reduced palette. All the bright colours are used to depict the rising or setting sun, and the rest of the image is grey or yellow, almost unfinished looking. This forces the eye to focus on the sun, just like how a real sunset or sunrise captures your attention; everything else around you seems to fade away. A lot of early landscapes also used warm colours to create feelings of nostalgia or comfort, especially when depicting the countryside and trying to foster a sense of kinship with the land.


2. Brush techniques

The brushstrokes also change the way a landscape feels. Harsh, sharp brush techniques make the bristles of the brush stand out a lot more in the paint, and this can dramatically alter the atmosphere of a piece of art. One of the most interesting things about this is that the effect can change based on the context creating a sense of grief, or chaos, or even awe. Landscape painters in particular tend to use visible brushstrokes to reinforce the power of nature.


3. Scale

Landscape artists often choose subjects that are overwhelmingly big, like mountains, the sea, or the sky, and all these subjects have roots in the romantic origins of landscape paintings. Romanticists were fascinated by an emotion that they called the “sublime”, and this was true of Romantic poets and writers too, not just visual artists. To the Romanticists, the sublime was best described as a feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer scale and beauty of the world. You may have even felt this yourself, when looking up into a clear starry sky, or down at a rolling view from the top of a mountain. It’s an experience that makes you feel tiny and insignificant, but also enthralled by the beauty of the scene. For the Romanticists, it usually had an explicit connection to Christianity too; they felt they were experiencing God through the majesty of nature, so in many ways, the sublime was a spiritual experience. Quite a hard thing to attempt to capture in a painting! To try to replicate the unique mixture of powerlessness and euphoria, early landscape artists chose to paint things that were massive, and usually tried to show this to the audience by painting tiny people into the scene for scale, showing them dwarfed by the scene around them.


Interested in landscape art for your home?

Here at NZ Fine Prints, we have a whole collection of contemporary New Zealand landscape art, showcasing our own unique environment and its beauty. Browse our collection to find some of the best landscape canvas art prints in NZ, like Dale Gallagher’s Majestic Fiordland, and Church of the Good Shepherd Lake Tekapo. Landscape prints can bring true character to your home or office and make a great way to celebrate the stunning environment here in Aotearoa. To find out more, feel free to contact us today!

Portraits: Why Are They So Common in Art? | NZ Fine Prints

Portraits: Why Are They So Common in Art?

Painting of knight in front of castle surrounded by other people

There’s no doubt that portrait art is one of the most common art types, and that this has always been the case. But why are portraits so prevalent, both in the history of art and today? In this blog post, we’re going to explore why portraits are so popular, and so common in many different movements of art!


1. Making portraits paid well

Historically, painters could count on portraits when they needed income. This idea grew out of the practice of ‘court painting’, wherein painters like Fransisco Goya were kept on retainer to create paintings of royalty. For a lot of history, commissioned work like this was basically the function of art; the idea of ‘personal inspiration’ is relatively new to modern society! A huge amount of historical art began not with the painter themselves, but with someone else paying the painter to create a piece. It's probably worth mentioning that this idea is drawn mostly from the European tradition of art, which we’re focusing on in particular, because it’s more or less where a lot of the formal ideas about portrait painting come from. Many of the most famous European paintings of all time are, in fact, commissioned work, including the Mona Lisa! And it’s easy to understand why people were eager to pay artists to paint themselves or their families, because it was the only way to keep images of loved ones before photography existed everywhere in the western world. The movement away from commissioned portraits is though to be relatively slow. It began as a practice reserved for the rich, but slowly became more accessible for lower classes in European societies, until eventually, painters simply began painting portraits of people they knew, or even strangers they happened to see.


2. People like people!

The next big reason portraits have always been popular is very straightforward; we’re social creatures! Humans enjoy looking at other humans, and portraits were one of the first ways we could reproduce the experience of looking at someone. There is more to it than that, of course. On a deeper level, portraits can also reveal all sorts of interesting things about their subjects. Part of this lies in the decisions that are made by the artist. How have they chosen to represent the subject of the painting, and what does this say about how people viewed the subject at the time? With older paintings, it can be a full-time job investigating the historical context surrounding these questions, but they are still engaging to think about for anyone, whether they collect art or not. Portraits can also tell us a lot about someone from the level of detail alone. A great example is the oil painting Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele by Jan van Eyck. The painting depicts its donor, Joris van der Paele, and modern medical experts now believe that they can guess how he died from the details in the painting alone. The two biggest clues are the spectacles he carries, and an enlarged vein on his head, which suggest he suffered from temporal arteritis. Jan van Eyck’s paintings were known for this level of minute detail, and it’s incredible that his portraits can tell us things about their subjects that the people of the time didn’t even know. Overall, it will always be true that people are fascinated by other people, and portraits give us a window into how other people think, showing us either how the subject wanted to be seen, or how the artist wanted to show them, or both!


3. People like painters

This final point is an extension of the one above, with a twist. It’s true that people are social beings, but it’s especially true that we tend to be fascinated by the painters themselves, and self-portraits have always carried this mystique with them, offering us a glimpse into the creative mind. Just as portraits can tell us about how their subjects were viewed, self-portraits can tell us how artists view themselves. A lot of painters painted self-portraits during their careers, but Frida Kahlo is probably one of the most well-known artists of the form, creating over fifty self-portraits during her life. The Two Fridas is one of her most analysed self-portraits because she painted two versions of herself; one in European clothes, and one in traditional Tehuana clothing. The meaning behind this has been discussed for decades, and many different theories have been proposed, including by Kahlo herself, who said it was representative of a memory of a childhood friend.


Do you like portraits?

These are just a few of the reasons that portraits are so common and have been so influential. However, art comes down to taste a lot of the time, so no matter how popular they are or have been, they’re not for everyone! On the other hand, if you’re not a fan, you shouldn’t give up on the whole genre straight away! Portraiture contains so many different styles of art that there’s always a chance you’ll find something new and fall in love with it! Portraits make great additions to your home too. Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have a range of portraits available under the portrait category on our site. You can also find some classic portraits in our framed wall art collection, including our largest portrait print by CF Goldie, who was best known for his portraits of Maori dignitaries. To find out more, browse our range today!

How to Hang Wall Art Like A Pro | NZ Fine Prints

How to Hang Wall Art Like A Pro

A collection of art prints ready to be hung up

Having art prints in your home is a great way to express your creativity and personal style, and making an extra effort to thoughtfully hang your favourite images will only help maximise the aesthetics of your home. This guide will provide a few tips on arranging your art to get the most out of your walls.  

Determine Your Location

Once you have collected your pieces of print art, you'll want to start to think about the best place to hang them in your home. As most canvas prints are susceptible to damage from elements like temperature and humidity, it's recommended that they hang in a cool and dry area of your home. Some optimal areas include living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways where the temperature stays consistent.

Luckily, within these areas, there are so many different places to hang your wall art, such as above: 
 • a bed
 • living room furniture
 • a fireplace
 • a desk

You can ultimately much hang your art anywhere in these areas that there is a blank wall available. The choice is yours!  


Consider the Arrangement

But before you even think about hanging your art, it's essential that you consider the arrangement of your pieces. This step will help you to avoid any unnecessary holes in your wall.  

We recommend gathering your art prints, placing them on a table—or even the floor—and moving their positions until you find an arrangement that you like best. This process allows you to get creative and try different layouts without committing to one solution. Once you have made your final decision, take a photo of the arrangement so you can refer back to the picture as you begin to hang them. 

This technique is especially valuable for prints in a series. Some pieces of art are designed to be hung together—in a triptych for example. On the other hand, you might take three pieces from completely different artists, and decide that you want to make a series out of them! Art that uses similar colours or themes is ideal for matching like this.


Hanging Multiple Prints

If you are working with an extensive collection of art, you might find yourself needing to create several different series of prints—perhaps a series for each room. When you have a lot of art to arrange like this, it's important to treat them as a gallery to achieve a balanced look. 

When you are arranging wall art with groups of prints, you can really get creative. Try a few different techniques like hanging them side-by-side, slightly staggered, symmetrically, or even asymmetrically. Whatever layout you decide on, we highly recommend using low adhesive tape to plan out your arrangement on your wall and help you determine your optimal hanging position and nail placement.   


Judge the Distance

Measuring your available space and the distance between each print will help keep the correct spacing between them as you begin to hang them on your wall. Ideally, the space between each piece should be in the range of 5cm to 15cm. This, as a general rule, is the sweet spot.   

Another helpful recommendation is that your art arrangement should not span wider than the piece of furniture that you're hanging it over. While these "rules" are certainly solid advice, feel free to experiment with different measurements, especially if you want to achieve a different effect.  


Hang at Eye-Level

Most people tend to hang their wall art too high on the wall, and it's widely accepted in the art world that the optimal position to hang a piece is at eye level. To be exact, you should look to hang your print at the height of 5'7, which represents the average human eye height, and is also a measurement that is regularly used in galleries and museums.  

 Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For those with low ceilings, you will have to calculate the optimal position based on the available space, and if you intend to hang your art over a couch or a fireplace, these prints will naturally be placed higher on the wall. 


Reach Out to Us for More

For more information on how to hang your art like a pro, reach out to our team of experts—we are more than happy to answer any of your questions. If you are still searching for your dream prints, check out our stunning range of canvas prints and framed wall art in our online store

How to Look After Your Canvas Art Prints | NZ Fine Prints

How to Look After Your Canvas Art Prints

One of our selection of canvas art prints
Canvas art prints today are brilliant quality and should be long lasting as well. They are a beautiful way to enjoy your favourite artwork on your walls every day. When you invest in a canvas piece that you love it’s worth spending that little extra time learning how to look after it properly. In this guide, we will discuss the proper handling and care your canvas print will need to stay in perfect condition for years to come.

Hang in a Cool and Dry Room (this can be ignored though*)

Once you have purchased your print and and we've delivered it to your home or office, you will likely begin to think about the walls where it will hang best. Wherever you decide to place your piece, we advise considering elements such as the temperature and humidity of the room. For a canvas print, cool and dry conditions are best since heat and moisture can cause your canvas to stretch over time. It is good practice to avoid hanging in areas like bathrooms and kitchens where heat and humidity often accumulate. The optimal rooms to hang your prints tend to be the living room and bedroom, where humidity is low, and the temperature stays mostly consistent.  *However we might also contradict ourselves a bit here, in that canvas prints can work really well in bathroom or kitchen because unlike an original artwork you won't be as concerned if the canvas does take a bit of a hammering from humidity and heat because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to replace!


Avoid Direct Sunlight

Hanging a canvas print in a well-lit area of your home will undoubtedly bring out its vibrant colours, but—if possible—we recommend keeping your new wall art out of direct sunlight unless you don't mind having to replace the artwork every few years. Canvas art (and in fact most artwork) really does not fare well under frequent exposure to the harsh NZ sunlight. While most canvas prints are sprayed with a UV-resistant coating consistent direct sunlight can still cause your print to eventually fade a lot faster.


Frequent Dusting

Like any furniture or fixture in your home, your canvas print will accumulate cobwebs and dust. To keep your print looking stunning, we recommend dusting it regularly using a dry, soft brush, or even using a clean feather duster to gently wipe the canvas’s surface. If you can, try to avoid rubbing the print with your fingers, as this can damage the print material. If you have a framed canvas print, feel free to use a damp cloth to remove any dust, but be sure not to spray any water directly onto the exposed print.


Don’t Use Chemical Cleaners

We strongly advise against using chemicals to clean your print. Many household cleaning solutions contain strong acids that can cause real damage if they come into contact with your wall print. Most prints are treated with a protective UV coating that does not react well to chemical or water-based cleaners, often responding by breaking down and stripping the ink. If your print needs a more thorough cleaning, you can try running a damp microfibre cloth or a dry lint-free cloth over it gently. For tougher stains and grime, your best option is to take your print to an art restorer, they will work carefully to clean your print without any damage.


Careful Storage

Whether you’re moving to a new house or simply updating your home or office décor, you may want to put your canvas prints in storage. The key to storing your prints is to have them upright in either back-to-back or face-to-face positions—this ensures that they are protected from damage. If possible, it’s also recommended to keep them off the floor, as this will help prevent them from absorbing moisture out of the ground and reduce the chances of physical damage. If your canvas is going into long-term storage, we advise wrapping it in acid-free craft paper or even acid-free bubble wrap, which will keep your print from scratching and yellowing from being in contact with acidic wrapping materials.


Find Your Own Stunning Canvas Print

With the proper care, it’s easy to keep your canvas art prints looking vibrant and pristine for years to come. If you have any doubts about your cleaning and storing methods, refer back to this guide, or contact one of our team for more advice. If you’re interested in purchasing a high-quality print for your home, we have a stunning range of canvas prints in our online store, deliverable across New Zealand and around the work (unframed canvases only outside of NZ). Browse our collection today and find one that you love!

Van Gogh and Surrealist Exhibitions in NZ This Year | NZ Fine Prints

Van Gogh and Surrealist Exhibitions Landing in NZ This Year

Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait on wall

Two exciting exhibitions are on in Aotearoa in 2021: the enormously successful “Van Gogh Alive” experience and a visiting collection of surrealist works in Te Papa. Both exhibitions shine a light on some of the most enduring art of our history, and both aim to showcase the work in new and provocative ways. In this blog, we’re exploring the subject matter of these shows and delving deeper into the details of the exhibitions, to give you an idea of what to expect.


The Legacy of Vincent Van Gogh

While very well-known today, Vincent Van Gogh spent his entire career working in obscurity. Over ten years, he created over two thousand artworks, including roughly 860 oil paintings, many of which he completed in the last two years of his life. It was in this later period that he developed the style he is famous for today; much of his highly expressive brushwork isn’t present in a large majority of his early work. The Dutch post-impressionist painter only became a major influence on western art after his death at 37, in 1890. This has made him the archetype of the “tortured artist” and given his story a poetic, tragic quality that plays into his enduring popularity. Despite the common perception of his creativity and mental illness being two sides of the same coin, it’s largely accepted now that he only painted during those times in his life in which he was not depressed or in poverty. Regardless, his work lives on, and prints of Vincent Van Gogh paintings remain some of the most popular items we have ever stocked here at NZ Fine Prints.


Van Gogh Alive

The “Van Gogh Alive” experience first came to New Zealand last year, appearing on Wellington’s waterfront as ‘Digital Nights’. The new show is a large-scale, indoor installation, designed to take attendees on a journey through the various stages of Van Gogh’s life, and transport them to the places he lived and worked over his career, such as Arles, Saint Rémy, and Auvers-sur-Oise. The experience is a multi-media adventure, including a musical score and projected moving images, offering visitors the chance to go beyond the surface of each of Van Gogh’s works and step inside them instead. The installation has been confirmed to exceed the government’s current COVID-19 health guidelines. The show has already concluded in Wellington, but tickets are still available to book for the current run in Christchurch, which concludes on March 28, and the upcoming opening in Auckland, which will run from April 10 through to May 6.


From Van Gogh to Surrealism

In many ways, Van Gogh paved the way in the late 19th century for the surrealist movement in the early 20th century, which has its roots in numerous earlier traditions, post-impressionism included. The first surrealist manifestos were published only 30 or so years after Van Gogh’s death. Like Van Gogh, surrealist paintings have proven to be enduring, although it’s harder to say why. The abstract nature of the work may give it a timeless quality; many surrealist pieces look like they could have been painted yesterday. It’s also possible that art movements tend to remain popular when they are attached to an idea or a way of life. Early adherents of surrealism certainly talked about it being more than just an art movement; they wanted to create a new way of life, and challenge existing conceptions about how people ought to think and act. As humans, we tend to enjoy the concept of trailblazers, especially in art.


Te Papa’s Upcoming Surrealism Exhibition

Due to open last June but postponed due to COVID-19, this upcoming exhibition will showcase 180 surrealist works, including well-known paintings by Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, and more. Organised by Te Papa curator Lizzie Bisley, the exhibition is possible thanks to the collection’s usual home—the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen—being closed for renovations. It is the first time the collection will be on display in Australasia and the first opportunity many Kiwis will have ever had to see some of the world’s most famous surrealist pieces first-hand. Like the “Van Gogh Alive” experience, this exhibition will feature digital projections and interactive elements. Visitors will even be invited to record their own dreams, so they can take part in the creation of surrealist art too! Te Papa is planning to run a schedule of public events in tandem with the exhibition, to further enhance the showing.


Bring a piece of art history home

Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have a wide range of pieces from many famous art movements. Our collection includes the largest range of prints of surrealism paintings in New Zealand, from artists such as Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher and Rene Magritte. If you want a piece of art history to call your own, browse our collection today, and find one that speaks to you!