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Paint making and painting

For over fifteen years I have hand ground my own paints. I do this by collecting local clays of varying colours and grind them using a granite stone tablet. For ver three years I have been offering workshops in this via the school of mines in Thames and in the Aro Valley - Wellington. To fit your time frame we source local clays make our paints with either egg, PVA or oil binders then work collectively or individually to create our own works of art. I like to have an output in the school and or community to show and exhibit the finished art as well. Participants gain self esteem, skills and have a wonderful time getting their "hands dirty".

Artist Information

Barry Thomas


Phone: 04 3841674 or 027 7473748

Email: barthom33@hotmail.com


I am a professional artist and film maker. I have concentrated increasingly over the last decade and a half on community and arts education... more people, less commerce.

I trained at the National Film Unit as a film cameraman. I studied fine arts at Ilam, Christchurch under Rudi Gopaz. I ran my own film, video company from 1983 till 2000 - YETI productions where I was awarded five ITVA awards, Best Car Ad 1993 (Gold Axis) and invented a new form of art - rADz - radical art advertisements. I managed to sell 120 of these provocative, haiku short films to TV4 and the Sundance Channel to screen across the schedule in otherwise unpaid ad time - giving the mainly younger film makers exposure to large audiences. rADz were internationally acclaimed through participation and invitations to speak at many festivals in UK, Italy, France in 2000 and 2001.

I also paint, have always made art and sculpture. I was recently included in the history of Wellington sculpture book for my 1978 planting of Cabbages - as a work of art, initiating the Artists co-op etc. I am subject of the doctorate Marcel Duchamp's influence on New Zealand art. I created the re-branding of Cuba street into the region - CUBA and ran two carnivals in the nineties.

I make my own paints and run paint making and painting workshops/ classes.

Between 2000 and 2004 I made around 200 short films in mainly poorer communities and mainly working with youth throughout the UK and was awarded a Tokyo video festival award for one of these.

I offer two artists in schools "classes"...

1. Film making - digitally based. I take students from concept to DVD output and everything in between. (to be taylored for each school - high school and or primary). The courses use my film making expertise gained in communities here and abroad to increase skills, develop teams and working ethics of participants.

2. Paint making and painting. The antithesis of digial media! This "school" has run successfully at the school of mines in Thames and at the Aro Valley Community centre in Wellington where I now live. We simply source and make our own paints from local earth clays then on specially sourced paper pulp card - paint to our hearts content. This is a very messy, fun, rewarding process for all aged participants giving them personal access to simple art making techniques and processes... a real return to basics! It is very empowering to not have to buy expensive art products.

I have many refferences, Police checks (NZ and UK) and am willing to speak, present teach, and taylor my skills to fit your educational timeframes and needs. I am also available to upskill your staff in film making skills should they desire.

Programme Information

Arts Practice Medium: Visual Arts

Topics or Genres of Expertise: Paint making and painting/ drawing

Languages Spoken: English, Some French

Target Age Group: Junior Primary, Middle Primary, Senior Primary, Junior Secondary, Senior Secondary

Preferred Group Size: Medium (9-20)

Regions: Marlborough, Nelson, Waikato, Wellington, West Coast, National

Space and Resources Required: bring clays and I supply the rest, Materials, DVD player

Indicative Costs:

  • $neg per hour

Mode of Delivery: In - class or out - you choose, Presentation, Workshop

Cultural Context: European, European, Asian, Pasifika, Maori


Specialises in documentary style portraits, generally community-based projects. Exhibited widely in West Auckland and Edinburgh Scotland.
Currently working on picture story project on global democracy, travelled to Argentina to photograph and interview socialist activists.
Excellent communication skills, committed to social justice.
Have experience in running workshops for children, taught darkroom stills. Still using film (anologue), no digital experience.
Work part time at Corban Estate Art Centre as exhibition assistant.
Have an HND in Photography gained in Edinburgh Scotland.
Commissioned to produce portraits most recently by Waitakere City Council.Please visit this website for more details:http://www.ceac.org.nz/exhibitions/past_exhibitions/exhibitions_2006.aspx

Programme Information


Hi Barry, Sorry I haven’t gotten to You sooner, Kids and art, not much time for everything, You know how the story goes. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the whole; The paint making experience I thought, is an entirely brilliant and original idea. The children learnt first hand what it took to make paint, from a raw material to a fully usable and commercial product. I was in the presence of history being passed down through a person who could educate children to produce something they never thought possible. And would probably not encounter such a unique lesson ever again. The kids that I was with were engrossed with the whole project and were hungry for more. They even lost track of time itself, and by the time they had finished their masterpieces, the children had works of art that even piccaso would be proud to hang on His wall. Rick Fisher Parent St. Francis School Thames 106 Lowe Avenue Thames Phone: (07) 868 8117 Fax: (07) 868 0008 email: principal@parawai.school.nz Web page: www.parawai.school.nz Thames Heritage Art Day – With Barry Thomas and John Isdale This has become an annual event that Parawai School is very keen to participate in. As part of our Gifted and Talented Programme, we select approximately 20 students who will benefit from this type of extension activity. In 2008 Yr 7/8 students took part and this year we selected students in Yr 5/6. Prior to the event, the organisers (John Isdale and Barry Thomas) provided us with excellent information about the programme for the day, what we needed to bring and what preliminary activities would assist the students. This year, the day was even more successful, as slight modifications had been made to further enhance the programme. Barry reduced the size of the canvasses to make them more manageable and the students did far more preliminary sketching and preparation. As usual (before the actual event) students were also required to collect plenty of rocks, clays, earth etc that could be ground up to make the paints on the day. This is an integral part of the programme that they all take to with great enthusiasm. On the day, John and Barry began with a brief talk about Thames history and the paint making processes used in the past. Then the students began to sketch their designs. During the sketching, Barry pulled out a few students at a time to grind their rocks etc to make their own paints. This paint making process is a “hands-on” learning activity that they really enjoy. After this, during the painting of the sketches, Barry made sure that he spent time with each student. Talking and working with them 1: 1, he helped those who were stuck or who lacked confidence, providing the motivation and reassurance they needed. As an experienced and accomplished artist he was also able to give all the students advice and very valuable tips about colours, painting techniques or how best to approach certain aspects of their pictures. Consequently, each child produced their best work and finished the day feeling very happy with their achievements. For Parawai School the Heritage Art Day is great success and we would certainly like to take part again next year. This year the pictures created by the students will be going on display in a local café and they have also been photographed to form the front cover of our new school newsletter. Julie Crimmins-Crocker - D.P. Parawai School Dr. Vicky Compton 04 802 4353 Vorry Mahal Community Co-ordinator Aro Valley 04 3848499

Programme Materials Provided for Schools: Yes

Photos of Relevant Work by This Artist

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