Jack Willetts, born 1922, began painting as a young man
in 1944, without formal training.
He discovered then his attraction to portraiture. In
1946 he began community farming in Motueka, He married and he
and his late wife Nancy had six children. He supported his family
with a variety of jobs - including running a Saw Sharpening business.
Jack then enrolled in a diploma of figurative studies course at
Whitecliffe College of Art and Design.
travelled to Florence when he was 57, where he began to study
under a master painter. As a result of these studies he began
his career as a painter. In the 80s with his family grown, he
began to devote his time to portraiture. In the late 80s he spent
more time in Europe and London to study and paint copies of the
great European masters. He gained a commission in Philadelphia
in 1989, and in the early 90s toured Canada for two months, painting
for his keep.
some time painting in New Zealand again, he began to find enthusiastic
subjects to sit for him - the local Maori. He painted 18 portraits
of decorated tribal elders for Maniopoto Maori Trust Board, and
17 of the founders of Te Wananga O Aotearoa. These paintings are
hanging throughout New Zealand, in meeting houses, maraes, trust
board rooms and private homes. You can see some samples of Jack's
Maori paintings if you click
works in a traditional way, using patient sitters prepared to
spend a few hours keeping very still. If a sitter isn't available
he'll work from photographs - but prefers a "live" sitting
to achieve a better result. His self portraits are painted using
a mirror. If you would like a portrait made you can go to the
section to get more details of the requirements.