Angus (Gus) Watson has been painting for a living for more than 25 years. Originally from Invercargill, New Zealand, he moved to the Queenstown region in 1974 and has lived here ever since. He lives in the beautiful home and artist’s studio he built himself, on what was once an empty paddock on the fringes of Queenstown. 

Gus’ association with the Central Art Gallery team goes way back. Gallery Director Julia Milley worked alongside Gus at his interactive history experience, a gold-rush themed tourist activity which included 16mm film, slides, sounds and smells! The activity ran for 12 years from 1974, after which Gus settled into a career as an artist. 

Gus Watson paints bright and colourful watercolour paintings, often concentrating on figures with a unique and impressionistic result. 

Find out more about Gus and his artwork in Central Art Gallery’s latest artist interview…

What do you enjoy most about being an artist in Queenstown, New Zealand?

It’s very exciting. People on holiday are in the right frame of mind to buy art… they worry about the credit card later! In a small tourist town like this, artists and galleries are more easily found and visitors love to have a reminder of happy times. 

How would you describe your art? 

Impressionistic, using many bright colours. It’s all about the colours! 

I like to capture something without making it too obvious what the subject matter is. People have to think about it. 

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What inspires you to create? 

I like building and creating things. Art is something that’s obsessive, but it’s not a bad obsession to have. You always want to go back and do more. You can’t ever get it exactly right so you’re always trying, that’s the best thing about art. 

Once I have an idea, I start sketching. I never have an end point in mind, it just unfolds. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I end up burning it! 

What makes your artwork different? 

It’s interesting to see the artworks which click with visitors. They’re not especially different [from my other] pieces, but people can see something in the art which clicks with them, something special they can’t quite put their finger on. 

My style is very different, it’s my own. I love playing with colours and getting colours which work together into a shape, or whatever I’m drawing. The subject is irrelevant, it’s about colours working together. 

How did you become an artist? 

A neighbour asked me to paint some hens for them, so I did. The neighbour’s friends saw it and they wanted me to paint some ducks… and it went from there. I’m just lucky I had the ability to do it. 

I enjoy commissions, it makes you pull your finger out and challenge yourself. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Build things! A boat, furniture, an apple-shaped jewellery box for my daughter… even the camper van outside my home, I built that with a friend. 

Do you have a mantra to live life by? 

You’re obliged to get your money’s worth out of life. Get your boots on and go for it!


See Gus Watson’s colourful artworks in our gallery at 71 Beach Street, Queenstown. Central Art Gallery is one of the oldest privately owned galleries in New Zealand, showcasing a huge range of artwork from Kiwi and International artists.