Wild-Wood: Monchrome artworks by Kris Estment

This was the first “sudden death” artwork I had ever done. The term Sudden Death means working straight onto the base timber without any error correction process. You have to get it right the first time. I loved it. I fell in love with working on wood.

By Kris Estment

What does airbrushing mean to you? Airbrushing has literally changed my life!

A new country to live in . . .
A new partner to live with . . .
And a new passion to live for . . .

Making the decision to leave South Africa and start a new life in New Zealand was life changing. But I found starting a new life here much harder than I had hoped.

This was my second artwork on wood. I have a friend that builds my “canvases” out of reclaimed pallets. I tried sanding back into the wood, but the inks soaked deeply into the timber.

I was incredibly depressed. I was working a shitty retail job with no social life. Back then I still had a heavy South African accent, having only been in New Zealand for a couple of years which made me self conscious. I didn’t really have any friends. I’m very shy . . . and to be perfectly up-front, I used to have little self confidence. I’ve never been good at anything, I have never felt gifted or that I had a talent or thought I had anything to offer the world. But airbrushing has changed all that.

Depression and mental illness is not something people speak enough about. It makes people uncomfortable if you mention you’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts and spend most of your days pretending to be ok when in actual fact you’d rather not be around anymore. Do you feel uncomfortable now? Don’t feel sad for me. The day I joined the airbrushing community was the day my life turned around. Those two weeks spent on the first units was the first time I had someone praise me and call me a “smart arse”. It was the beginning of people taking notice of me and what I was doing.

This was such a cool weekend. Five of us, custom painted both sides of my car in a weekend
. . . just for shits & giggles.
Having an airbrushed car I found was a double edged sword. It was cool, but because it stood out so much, I felt I had to be on my best driving behaviour. People loved the car. They didn’t believe me when I told them that it was NOT a digital print stuck on. I didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.

Over the last 7 years I have done a series of Airbrush Venturi courses. I’ve met some very interesting people. I made real connections with people and friendships that have grown to some strange levels. I loved spending the weekend with Ben, Rob, Sara and Tony . . . all of us painting my car in a mad rush. Then there’s Gail, coming into my house and planting a cleverly thought out hand soap with her face in it…. I didn’t even notice it until a few weeks of it living in my house like an intruder.

My sales job became so depressing I just couldn’t do it anymore. It broke my mentally and physically, I just needed out. Airbrushing has given me options in life. Options I’d never had before. This course has given me so many things in life, I can now call myself an artist, I have something that makes me feel good, I escape when I paint. It’s meditative.

This was done for charity, to raise money for a rural medical centre.

Everyone of us needs to be creating. I don’t care what you do, paint, airbrush, draw, dance, tattoo . . . just create. Your soul will become alive. If you don’t have enough time to create, make time. Your brain and heart will thank you for it and the world will become a more beautiful and interesting place.

In a moment of laziness, I decided to do an artwork on raw MDF. I didn’t like the surface, but liked the process of working onto a hard raw timber surface, and the idea of working on pine planks was born.

I have been in search of timber with nice grain to it, ever since. In the artwork above I tried out plywood, structural timber panels. This was really nice to work on. It came fully sanded. So it was really nice to work on.

I had two ink mixtures. I had a full strength mixture and a 75% watered down mix. I start with the 75% watered down mix and then use the full strength mix for my deep shadows.

I used Cabots Crystal Clear to seal off the artwork. I sprayed it on using my 0.75mm Large set up on the Venturi airbrush. I watered the clear down 10%. It was very simple and effective.

This artwork isn’t airbrushed. I was playing with brush and experimenting with plywood.

Thank you Kris for taking the time to assemble the photos and write everything up. This is a very inspiring story. It is wonderful as a teacher to know that my teaching can make such a difference to someone. I am touched.

Kris did the 10 Day Courses held in Auckland. If you live in NZ and are serious about learning to airbrush, about learning a proper system, the 10 Day Courses will be exactly what you are looking for.

If you would like more information about the Auckland and Christchurch courses, go to the Airbrush Venturi course timetable, HERE.

If you have questions please text Tony Vowles on +61-418-324-530 or email him HERE.

Written by Tony Vowles