Jack Register (1936-1918) was one of the lower and central North Island's best-known artists. He received a QSM – Queen's Service Medal – in the 2008 New Year's Honours List for his services to Art and Music.
Jack has evolved a way of painting that suits his great love of painting outdoors. "I follow the colours in my head like a composer making music", he says. His artworks are iconic representations of the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wellington, and capture the essence of New Zealand.
Born and raised in Palmerston North, Jack says, “Art ran in my blood, so to speak, and from an early age my father taught me how to see things with an ‘artist’s eye.’” On leaving school, Jack completed a Painter and Decorator’s Apprenticeship and not long after passing his trade certificate, he became self-employed.
“About 1970 I was drawn to the easel and began to paint the Manawatu landscape with an emphasis on the Gorge, the ranges and the rivers of this region. I educated myself at home using the resources of the library; digesting a regular diet of books on a variety of subjects. I graduated naturally to an ever-increasing ‘feast’ of art books, gallery visits and weekend art courses and workshops.
“Finally the urge to paint ‘art’ instead of houses could no longer be ignored! Although in my early thirties and with a young family I began to take art more seriously. Many nights and weekends were spent experimenting with watercolour, pen and wash and oil paint. ‘Mistakes’ proved to be invaluable to the learning process often producing exciting rather than disappointing results. My hobby soon began paying for itself, which encouraged me to build my own studio and spend more time on art. Within a few years I had exhibited my work both locally and nationally. ‘Art’ had become a passion to share with others! Between1980 and1990, I taught art at Queen Elizabeth College (Palmerston North) through its continuing education programme.
“In 1988 I made the decision to become a full-time artist and I have never looked back. Although a late starter as a professional artist, I have a lifetime of art experience. I specialise in contemporary art as it allows me the freedom of expression to paint what excites me, what I feel. Painting on site (‘plein air’) enables me to use all my senses to capture the essence of the landscape as my brush touches canvas. The connection I feel with the land and for New Zealand is, I believe, evident in my paintings.”