Margaret Petchell is one of New Zealand’s foremost Make Up Artists, with a film, television and editorial career that has spanned decades and circled the globe. But Margaret’s other passion and great talent is painting, typically large-scale portaits of faces.
In April this year, Margaret held an exhibition of her latest works, 15 portraits of birds, titled ‘The Commoners’. A selection of the original paintings have now been released as limited edition fine art prints, available at endemicworld.
Two of Margaret’s beautiful bird portraits – ‘Nyla’ and ‘Sylvia’ – available as art prints at endemicworld.
You’re a well-known Make Up Artist – what’s been your most favourite project to date?
As a Make Up Artist I have a favourite process which involves planning and preparation rather it being a favourite job. I love big productions where I design the look of the make up, hair, embellishments and sometimes the wardrobe too…
I also love getting on a plane to work in an exotic country like Egypt or Dubai! Stills photographer Mara Sommer and I produce together creative projects which we shoot and submit to magazines . This process gives me total creative license to concept, and design the make up, hair and clothing- unpaid work which has the most satisfaction.
Just a sample from Margaret’s extensive international make up and styling portfolio
Did you paint from a young age?
As a child I was forever sketching faces, mainly pencil and ballpoint pen; my work was always highly detailed and realistic. When I was 16, I copied a picture using black ballpoint pen, the size is 20 x 20 cm and I remember it taking me 75 hours.
This love of drawing faces lead to a career in make up artistry which in recent years has lead to large-scale pastel portraits of women and then to larger-than-life acrylic on canvas portraits…
What is your favourite situation to paint in?
I find it easiest to paint when I don’t have the distractions of my many other projects on the go, I need a clear headspace and time available, which is more of a consideration than the time of day I paint, sometimes I paint with music playing although I live in a quiet street, so more often I enjoy the lack of noise.
Margaret at work in her creative space – a cosy corner of her lounge room.
Tools of the trade
Prior to your popular bird series (on endemicworld) what subjects have you most enjoyed?
6 month portrait projects, inspired by the work of famous Italian photographer Paolo Roversi. (Permission received).
Continuing the large-scale theme, I painted a series of single flower blooms. A trip to Marrakech inspired me to paint many of the doors in my home with beautiful Moroccan designs, photographed whilst there. The doors are intricately detailed, and symbolic to me of the pattern and colour I so enjoy about their culture.
More recently I have painted from works by old masters such as Frederick Lord Leighton, my most recent being Odalisque, completed over 8 months.
My partner and a photographer friend of mine encouraged me to set a date to start exhibiting my work, using his studio space (it was one of the photography studios we all worked in during the 80’s and 90’s.) So with a goal and deadline in mind, I embarked upon painting my bird series. I paint birds in the same way that I paint people: portraits from head and shoulders up, the eye always connecting with the viewer.
Who would you love to work with?
My dream job would be to be on a shoot with Paolo Roversi, I admire his work so much because of its painterly quality and the timelessness of his images. I would also like to have been a student studying art in Venice a couple of hundred years ago when it was the place to be.
The original painting ‘Bijou’ perches over Margaret’s fireplace.
This painting has been released as an art print at endemicworld (limited edition of just 50).
Margaret’s cat, the “lovely Violette, who helps with everything,
known to jump long distance to my back or shoulder while I am painting.”
Besides art and design, what else do you love to do?
Besides art and design, I live to travel, lately to Arabic countries; I am fascinated with their culture, ancient design aesthetic, and the colour palette of their architecture and art. Turkey and Morocco are next on the list!
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a commissioned painting of two gannets. Once that is complete I am resuming my animal portrait series, which I intend to exhibit in the New Year.
Beauty in the details