Finding Inspiration through Friends, Telemann, Chopin, and Dragonball Z: Interview with New Zealand Artist Zenobia Southcombe

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my
world. ”
Leo Buscaglia

“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away. ”


Inspiration can come from as close as a freshly plucked garden flower or in this case flung from as far as a continent on the other side of the stratosphere.  Recently I’ve been enjoying the act of building community  and catching creative sparks from across the globe though swapping blogs and sharing stories with Auckland artist and elementary school teacher, Zenobia (Zee) Southcombe.

So here, gentle reader is your fodder for today.  Sit back, enjoy the works and join me in getting to know a little more about the many charms of my new friend, Zee!

1.      Introduce yourself…

Kia ora! My name is
Zenobia Southcombe, and I’m an artist & teacher from New Zealand. When I’m
not making art I am learning, reading, teaching, gaming, blogging, cooking,
drinking tea, eating, meeting friends or watching TV. (Sometimes I am doing
these while I am making art as well).

Just a few of Zee's charms. . . 😉

2.      What inspired you to become an artist?

From a young age I
had wanted to be an artist – not a famous artist, mind you, I couldn’t handle
that much attention, I’m way too much of an introvert for that! – but able to
make art as a ‘job’. I followed through with this throughout highschool, and
began a Bachelor of Visual Arts, but withdrew before the end of my first
semester because I am not a huge fan of post-modernism (feel free to try and
convince me otherwise!). So I went into teaching, which I absolutely LOVE,
finished my degree, began teaching, and dropped the dream for a while. One of my
students once asked me what I wanted to be when I was little. I answered
“Artist”. Hmm… so why aren’t I? Then I got started again and couldn’t

Zenobia Southcombe, "Wistful" 2011

3.      What media / material & process do you like best,
and why?

Pen & Ink! I’ve
always admired the ink & wash technique (also called sumi-e) of Zen Buddhist
art, and I’ve always loved drawing. So it was a no-brainer, really (having said
that, it took a good 20 years to drop the paintbrush and pick up the pen so
maybe not).

Zenobia Southcombe, detail from "Sun Splashes"

4.      Tell us a bit about your creative process…

Since I’m a
part-time artist, I first have to take over the dining table so I have my space.
I then put on Bach / Chopin / Telemann or Dragonball Z and get down to it. I
carry a sketchbook and a camera with me to capture the creative moments I get,
or to note down research that applies to my subject / technique /

Zenobia Southcombe, "Magnus Monster"

Generally, I work
from reference photos, so sometimes I’m sitting on the computer for ages trying
to find that ‘perfect photo’. However, with the ink wash technique it’s more of
a compositional challenge.

Zenobia Southcombe, "Barnacle Geese"

5.      Where do you feel most inspired?

Mission Bay, or at
my artist friend Jane Thorne’s place. She’s awesome.

6.      What sets your work apart from others in your

All my works are
originals, and I try to make it affordable for the average student, starving
artist & general public to have some original art in their lives.

I always try to
show some emotion and character in my drawings, and I really enjoy doing custom
artworks for people, be it a portrait, idea or otherwise. My work covers a range
of subject matter, that still link together with the ideas of freedom &

Zenobia Southcombe, custom portrait

7.      If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would
it be?

Hmmm… a toss-up
between Monet and Turner. My two absolute favourite artists ever. Although I
would also really like to meet some of the Zen Buddhist artists.

8.      If you could ask this person any question, what would
you want to know?

Easy –
can I watch you paint?

9.      What advice do you have for emerging

Make art that you
love. Your passion for the media, process, style and technique WILL show
through. Persevere in your dreams, and try to make friends along the

Zenobia Southcombe, "Zee on the Road" ink and acrylic on paper

10.  Link love – where can we find you online?





The Big Idea
Profile (for the New Zealand Creative Community)

Zenobia Southcombe, "My Life in Charms" ACEO, ink and watercolor


5 responses

  1. Wow what an introduction! I am honoured! I love how you have put this interview together, Tess, thank you so much 🙂

  2. Pingback: 6 Reasons to start Featuring Artists on your Blog « ZENOBIA SOUTHCOMBE Fine Art & Illustration

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