Tīkapa Moana

Happy New Year! 
I hope you and yours have had an amazing start. Here is hoping the 2022 is an improvement on it’s predecessors.

Tīkapa Moana 2022 by ellaquaint

While up in Auckland celebrating Christmas with my own whānau (family), I was busy bringing a concept to life. Tīkapa Moana was conceived in 2020 with the hope to paint it while I was still living in up there. As we all know the 20’s are the decade where it appears few things go to plan, the project had to be pushed out. Logistics surrounding getting the whale tale blanks into the country were problematic and lockdowns continued to sabotage timelines.

Studio shot of Tīkapa Moana in progress

From Wānaka I had intended to fly up to Auckland to work on it, however Covid hit again and those plans were dashed. We were then in discussions about trying to get it down South, while I was trying to find a space that I could work in. As the final time line drew nearer, it was looking less and less likely that it was able to happen. The job I had didn’t work out, which was such a blessing as it meant I could dedicate some serious time to working on the project, while back up in Tāmaki Makaurau over Christmas. 

Back view of Tīkapa Moana completed

A special thank you to my amazing sponsors Vector Lights for sponsoring my concept. If you follow the link above you can find the program for the special light displays on the Auckland Harbour Bridge in celebration of the Whale Tale event. Thank you too to the lovely team at the Pukekohe Resene colour shop who helped me sort out my paint supplies. And last but not least, thank you to Lucy and the amazing team at the WWF Whale Tale project for going above and beyond to make this extraordinary event come to fruition.

Tīkapa Moana by ellaquaint in front of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Tāmaki Makaurau
Photo credit Lucie Fowler

Tīkapa Moana in situ. I am so delighted with it’s position and I can’t wait to get back up to Auckland to see it installed as well as check out the other amazing works around the city. At number 12 on the trail you can easily find it on the Whale Tale interactive map app. Grab your whānau and some bikes and have a fun day seeing how many you can find!

Pink Pussy Hat Cat

Product testing

Today the unthinkable happened, who would have thought that The Simpsons could have been so prophetic. I was unable to make it to our Women’s March held here in Auckland but I wanted to demonstrate my solidarity for all folk who are going to be affected by the inauguration of President Trump. The result was this colouring page which I intended to be a freebie for you to colour as you wish. However I do think that the cat wants it’s hat to be pink.

Image of The Women’s March Washington courtesy of ABC News

You can download it from either my website ellaquaint for free! If you have any issues you can message me and I can send you the full sized file or you get it via my etsy store ellacute for a token gesture amount (at 25c it covers the listing and sale fee).

Colouring is said to be excellent for mindfulness, a technique that helps easy worry or anxiety. I have to admit that drawing colouring pages has a calming effect on me. An insightful thought by Matt Haig . . . ‘to be calm becomes a revolutionary act.’ Please enjoy this token of my passive resistance. When times like this happen it is important that we stand together and let the powers that be know that we are watching and we are judging. Kia kaha (stand strong) you fabulous folk in the U.S who are making a stand against that ridiculous man and all that he represents.

Pink Pussy Hat Cat 2017 by ellaquaint

Footage that I have seen of the turn out has been so inspiring and I get the sense that this is only the beginning. Thanks to Sway-rey for sharing this amazing clip of the phenomenal turn out across the US.

The hat pattern that inspired the had that this wee kitty is wearing is sourced from the wonderful Ravelry and is by Destiny Meyer.


Snow Beasts


There is something rather amazing about animals that have evolved to survive some of the most extreme conditions on the planet. The Arctic and other similar environments have influenced the evolution of such creatures as polar bears, arctic wolves and snow leopards. Like many folk who are aware of the increasing issues associated with global warming, how these stunning creatures will continue to survive in altered climates is a something that is of concern to me. It is alarming that increasingly we see in the news and social media evidence that the climate is changing faster than we can act.

Sir David Attenborough is one of my biggest heroes and I have so loved watching the programme Frozen Planet that was screened in 2013. Like many of his documentaries, it has been the source of inspiration for one of my most favourite series; ‘Snow Beasts’.

Polar Bear 2013 by ellaquaint

This series was attempting to explore notions around how animals who are dependent on arctic conditions could potentially survived in an environment where the temperature has increased. Already places are having issues with wild animals hunting / foraging closer to suburban / urban areas, due to habitat loss. Animals who are domesticated face a greater chance of survival.


Peruvian llamas as pictured here are marked with coloured tassels on their ears to note their bloodlines and ownership. This inspired me to experiment with similar adornments on wild animals who live in cooler climes.

Snow Leopard (unedited) and Arctic Wolf 2013 by ellaquaint

This was my initial idea, but while painting them, I started thinking that conceptually it was a great idea, actually having these amazing wild beasts with their ears pierced like cattle made me cringe. Also there was that 80’s association . . .

So in the end I edited out the ear tassels in Snow Leopard and I am very pleased with the results. I did however end up keeping the Arctic Wolf as I had initially visualized. It still alludes the ideas that I was exploring without being lost to 80’s pop music references.


The animals themselves were rendered using watercolour washes layered up very subtly in a manner akin to oil paint glazes. It is a time involved process and requires you to pretty decisive and quick so as to not shift and blend the previous layers of watercolour around. For the intensive pops of colour, I used gauache as it is near impossible to get that same sense of opaque saturation with watercolour paints.

Snow Leopard 2013 by ellaquaint


Arctic Wolf 2013 by ellaquaint

The limited edition giclee prints of these, both in A3, A4 and A5 format are still available for purchase. Some formats in the editions are getting low in stocks. Polar Bear, Snow Leopard and Arctic Wolf can be found on my website ellaquaint or on my Etsy store ellacute.

Because this is a blog article I wrote a couple of years ago, I was slack when it came to documenting where I sourced the images from that weren’t my own. If you recognize any and can let me know, then I can give credit where credit is due. Thank you!

Snow Beasts 2013 vertical pinterest logo.jpg