PARENT AMD TEACHER: Tara Murphy gives daughter Belle some guidance. Photos Troy Baker D7583-16

TARA Murphy wants her young student artists to understand what’s possible if you break down the process, take things step by step, and stick with it.

“That’s challenging for some children, but ultimately, it’s very rewarding,” she says.

Tara runs a weekly art class for primary and intermediate-aged children, seven years and up, from her home-based garage studio. Having moved back to her home town of Whakatane two years ago, she has resumed the style of classes she had been running in Waiuku, starting her first class last term.

“Above all, I want the children to have fun, I want them to be creative,” says Tara, who focuses on teaching painting techniques and processes that produce a final product the children may never have thought possible.

“Each term, I focus on one particular New Zealand artist, teaching the techniques used and discussing the style the artist creates. I want the children to understand you can paint amazing things by breaking down the steps, and I think it’s inspiring for them to focus on a particular artist each term.”

This past term, Tara’s students have been studying the work of John Pule, a Niuean-born New Zealand artist, poet and novelist, described as one of the Pacific’s most significant artists.

“I wanted them to look at his layering techniques, the dry brushing, the drip work, how he uses them to build up the dreamy and ethereal quality in his backgrounds.”

She says working on one piece for the whole term, “sticking with it and constantly reworking it” means at the end of the term, the children get to take home something they have worked hard on and are proud of. “The last session is celebratory.” Final touches and fun before they take their masterpiece home.

An artist herself, with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, the mother of three says her own art – commonly involving the shaping and staining of timber offcuts to create organic forms that reflect nature – has been on the back burner in recent years.

“I am a painter who became more of a sculptor, but the past few years have been all about being a mother. It’s hard to fit my own art projects in.”

But Tara’s not complaining. “I’ve been happy, but I do feel like I’m getting close to getting back into things again. I’m almost ready. And I’d love to get involved with the Whakatane arts scene too.”

Tara currently runs one class on a Thursday from 3.30pm to 4.30pm, but is looking at starting extra classes, and possibly running holiday programmes as well.

She can be contacted by email at or by phoning 027 372-7775.

By Lorraine Wilson