“Don’t worry, be happy”

26 March 2008
"They called out my name as the winner and my parents shouted and screamed because they were so proud of me. I was stunned by the win." Peter Zlatkoff tells his story.

Work by Peter Zlatkoff

I like coming to Vincents. I come four days a week – every day I can. Free, big, friendly tutors and people. On the farm I painted in a shed, alone. it was kind of monotonous.

At sixteen years old I had a brain haemorrhage. I thought I was going to die. I am still alive. My philosophy is don’t worry, be happy. I had to start all over again.

Now I am painting and I like it. Since coming to Vincents in 1994, I have had several solo shows and been a part of many group shows.

They called out my name

Also I won the Telecom Art Award for Wellington in 1998. My painting was on the cover of over 250,000 telephone books. I had entered the Telecom Art Award for four or five years. In 1998 I won first prize. We went to the ceremony for the top twenty entries in the Wellington region – very posh – wine and cheese. They called out my name as the winner and my parents shouted and screamed because they were so proud of me. I was stunned by the win.

When I first came to Vincents I was dubious. It was messy and chaotic. I had been going to an art place in another town where I lived for a while for two days a week. It was full of nice little old ladies and very tidy – there were no tutors there. I didn’t know if I wanted to go back to Vincents. It was different to what I had been used to. My dad said "It’s okay, give it a couple of days and you will get used to it.” I came back, settled in, made friends by walking around the studio, talking to people, saying hello, then got into my paintings.

People started talking to me about my art. Tutors boosted my morale. When I did a painting the tutors praised me. I started to explore my painting styles – to challenge myself (and my family). After a while everybody began to praise my abstract and cubic artwork. Before this time I used to paint realistic paintings – my family used to love them. Now they do not understand my work to really appreciate it but this is not worrying me, I still continue.

Work by Peter ZlatkoffBefore I was using dull colours and doing scenery but my father encouraged me to try bright colours. Although I am colour blind, I began to use brighter colours and decided not to use any black paint and to explore a more abstract style. The tutors and some other people who go to Vincents were encouraging.

I have exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and Wellington. I have also sold paintings overseas.



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