Moray Gallery

Francis Nicholls (1966-2020)

Artist Statement

My interest these days is painting contemporary impressionist landscapes in oil, using thick impasto paint applied with a palette knife. There is a blend of influences in my recent pictures and varying degrees of abstraction. I also like to draw on a daily basis and oftentimes paint directly from my drawings.

I use a variety of palette knives. Some are like trowels, and I really plaster the paint on in big impasto slabs.

My paintings are not always of specific places; a lot are a distillation of ideas, exploring more the colour, texture, and mark-making aspects of applying the paint. I try to capture a certain feeling or moment in time rather than accurately depicting a scene.


I was tutored by Ros Devaux at the Workshop Arts Centre, Sydney for several years in drawing, and was a long term member of a Plein Air painting class at the Royal Art Society of NSW. We would paint all around Sydney on a Saturday. I was also fortunate to have Joe Bezzina as a tutor, and he has remained to this day a great mentor and friend for me.

In 2010 I was accepted as an Exhibiting Member at the Royal Art Society of NSW.

Whilst in Australia I became involved with the Australia Plein Air Painters Group (APAG). APAG has a number of very talented and internationally recognised landscape painters including Kasey Sealy and Warwick Fuller. I attended many amazing painting trips to the Australian outback with this group of artists. Probably the most notable was a two week trip to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia which left an indelible impression on me.

In 2014 we moved back to NZ and to Roseneath, Dunedin. I joined the Otago Art Society in 2015 as an artist member.

Since being back in NZ I have exhibited at a number of group shows in Dunedin and Invercargill, and held my first solo exhibition in March 2018 at Moray Gallery, Dunedin. In November 2019 I am holding my second solo exhibition entitled “First Impressions II”.


Solo Exhibitions

View: First Impressions (Mar 2017)
View: First Impressions II (Nov 2-22, 2019)



2009 – Received the Godfrey Plein Air (Landscape) Award at the Royal Art Society of NSW, Sydney

2017 – Awarded First Prize in the Otago Art Society’s 141st Annual Exhibition

2017 – Received Honourable Mention at ILT Art Awards in Invercargill

2018 – Awarded First Prize in the Otago Art Society’s Summer Exhibition

2018 – Awarded First Prize in the Otago Art Society’s 142nd Annual Exhibition

2019 – Received Highly Commended in the Otago Art Society’s Spring Exhibition


Morning Light, Inlet Vista $880.00 High Cliffs Impression I $980.00 Emerald Sway $980.00 Lost Arcadia $1100.00 Lower Gardens Mystique $980.00 Capertee Aglow $880.00 A Heatwave Day $880.00