Drawing in the bush

Department of Conservation —  09/01/2014

Felicity Deverell has left her home and studio behind her to embark on a drawing adventure in the New Zealand backcountry. She plans to draw about 50 huts to feature in an exhibition/book. Felicity writes about some of her challenges so far.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range with my co-plotter Caleb

Drawing out in the wilderness is very different from in the studio. It has its difficulties but is very enjoyable on the whole. I love being outside, and I love drawing, so it was a great holiday for me.

A drawing of Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park.

Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park

The challenges of drawing huts abounded. In the first place, it was difficult to find a good angle to draw the hut from. It wasn’t just a question of which side the hut looked most interesting from, often finding one possible drawing angle was hard. Most huts were either closely surrounded by bush or long grass, so I had to find ways of getting around that.

Getting far enough away from the hut to get a good view of it, and to get it to fit on my paper, was a challenge, but I always found a way.

At Te Totara Hut in the southern Ureweras I sat up on a slip over the river from the hut. The hut was surrounded with tall grass so that was the only place I could get a proper view of it.

Felicity sketching amongst the native bush.

Sketching amongst the native bush

Before I began drawing the huts, I thought of just doing sketches of them, and working on larger more detailed drawings later, as the main thing to show at an exhibition. But I am now thinking that what I draw out there is worth more than what I could do in my studio. They have more interest and character to them, and capture the feel of the place.

A watercolour paining of a hut hanging on the hut wall.

Watercolour on location

For an exhibition and a book, all I really need is the material I get out there. But I still intend to do a few paintings on canvass and for those I will work on my studio from sketches and photographs.


More information on Felicity Deverell and her ‘The Art of a Hut’ project is available on her blog.

You could enjoy a backcountry hut experience of your own by finding your ideal hut break on the DOC website.