Interviews with other artists.
Who inspired you to paint, Jacki? Which other artists do you admire?
“Pauline de Braux, who was then chairman of Taunton Art Group. After watching me dabbling with watercolour, she told me "that's it – you're going to get there - all you have to do is keep painting". I only knew her for a short time and I miss her terribly, but I will never forget her because she had complete faith in my ability and she believed in me.
I admire the work of Elizabeth Blackadder, Shirley Trevena, Ann Blockley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Kurt Jackson, David Hockney, J W Waterhouse, da Vinci (drawings) and Turner to name just a few – there are so many brilliant artists out there: I find new ones every day, just by being on Facebook.”
Watercolour is said to be the hardest medium to work with. Why do you choose to paint with it?
“Watercolour is magical – I like to watch it blend and flow and react, often letting it do its own thing, in the knowledge that no two paintings could ever be the same. I use strong washes of wet in wet colour, often using mixed media and experimental techniques to achieve exciting effects and textures.
Although I’ve been painting with watercolour for many years now, I am still amazed and continually excited by this most magical of mediums. I’m still on my journey of discovery; a journey which I hope will never end. Every time I pick up my paintbrush I wonder where the paint will lead me. In my recent landscape and tree paintings I like to encourage the watercolour to evolve and "paint itself" by using lots of paint and "directing" the flow by tilting the board: I think I get more of an organic feel this way.
I think watercolour appeals to the scientist in me: I did science A levels and didn't do A level Art until I was 25.”
“Winsor & Newton Artists' quality paints, Sanders Waterford, or Hahnemuhle NOT paper, or if I'm doing studies the cheaper Langton paper. I also love Daniel Smith watercolours because of the beautiful colours and the tendency to granulate, but I do find them quite expensive, so I buy them as a treat!”
What is your preferred method for reserving the white of the paper? Do you ever use white paint?
“I used to be a watercolour purist but now I'm getting more into mixed media and use anything that comes to hand: gouache, white acrylic ink or paint, white Inktense sticks (unless exhibiting something as a "watercolour" in which case I'll use masking fluid if there's really no way around it).”
If you had to limit yourself to just six colours, which would you choose and why?
“For flower painting I tend to use a lot of transparent colours rather than opaque ones:
Cobalt Blue and Permanent Rose because I love soft lilacs and intense purples.
French Ultramarine because it granulates, Quinacridone Gold – just such a lovely colour, and good with Ultramarine to make green.
A yellow – Winsor Lemon or Aureolin – I can't decide.
A red, and here it's really difficult because I still haven't found the perfect red. Quinacridone Red goes on a bit "oily", but is transparent, whereas Cadmium Red is a great colour but too opaque and heavy for me.
Truth is I couldn't limit myself to just 6 colours – there are so many scrummy ones around that just can't be mixed easily: Green Gold, Peacock Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, Cerulean etc.
For landscapes I would choose Aureolin, swop Raw Sienna for Quin Gold and add Burnt Sienna instead of the red.”
“I would recommend painting whatever floats your boat; whatever excites you. I'm known as a flower painter, and yet I've gone right off it – preferring now to experiment with landscapes and seascapes! As artists we are always re-inventing ourselves and that means that sometimes people will say "Oh I used to like your work when you painted flowers, but I'm not so keen on your newer work" Better to hear this than to slavishly churn out the same old thing, which no longer excites you, but you are afraid of ditching because it sells.”
Art galleries do not favour watercolour paintings and oil paintings fetch a much higher price. What are your thoughts on this and do you feel this will change in the future?
“I think it is narrow minded – the only objection to watercolour paintings could be that they wouldn't last as long as oil paintings, and history shows us that this simply isn't true: as long as they are painted using artists' quality paints and archival papers and are not hung in direct sunlight. Or, maybe that watercolours are too traditional. I think exciting, experimental watercolour artists such as John Blockley, and his daughter Ann Blockley, Shirley Trevena and Michael Morgan, have helped to "modernise" watercolour painting, and helped dispel it's "chocolate box image", which makes it sit more comfortably in a gallery alongside more modern work, so yes I'm hopeful that things will change. Have a look at the website of one of my favourite galleries: the Marine Gallery in Beer – they hang a lot of watercolours: http://www.marinehouseatbeer.co.uk/”
When is your next exhibition?
“I have work in one now: The Artists' Garden Exhibition at RHS Rosemoor, Devon, until September 21st 2014.
I don't have another until next year – the winter is always a quiet time, but I do have a week's Artist Residency in Cornwall in October.”
Are you a full time artist? If not what other job(s) do you have? Do you find it difficult to find time to paint?
“I do not have a full-time job anymore, but I do not yet have a Pension, so sales of paintings and greeting cards is my only income. I find it hard to find time to paint and I find that marketing, preparing work for printing, framing etc. also takes up a lot of valuable time when I could be painting. It's something I envy about "established" artists – they can pay someone else to do the framing, marketing etc.”
What is/are your goal(s) as an artist?
“To continue to experiment and play and have fun. If it stops being enjoyable then I'll stop painting. This is one reason why I won't do commissions. Of course if people like what you do, even though you're just enjoying yourself, then that's a huge bonus! I always think this when I see Kurt Jackson painting – his energy and enthusiasm and how happy he must be to know that his paintings sell for tens of thousands of pounds – bliss! See http://vimeo.com/59025604, for him in action.”
I find social media sites take up too much of my time. You, on the other hand, are very good at posting things. What benefits have you gained by using these sites and have you experienced any drawbacks?
“Tell me about it! I've made some great "e-friends" (like yourself), received amazing feedback, and seen some fabulous artwork on social networks, but I don't think it has helped drive sales unfortunately, so commercially I might have been better off spending that time painting. But it's a bit like waiting for a bus: the longer you wait, the harder it is to walk away because then the bus is bound to turn up. Maybe today or tomorrow, all that time spent will pay off………….. or maybe not.”
“All of them hopefully: use black; drop water into a drying wash to create backruns; drop ink into a wet wash to create fabulous granulation textures; grate watercolour pencils into a wet wash to create random spots; rinse a watercolour under a tap; splatter, spray; turn it upside down; stick bits on; use mixed media; messy it up a bit; let it run; smudge it with my fingers – anything I feel like as long as I don't make MUD!”
What advice would you give to people new to watercolour?
“Buy artists' quality paints in tubes.
Buy just 2 or 3 decent brushes with a good point plus a rigger. When the point goes, demote them to gesso or glue brushes, and replace them.
Use the biggest brush you can for the size of paper and subject; more paint than you think you need; more water and most importantly have fun! You can always tell a painting that was created with joy.”
Can you ever imagine yourself not painting?
"Hopefully not, but I do have very painful arthritis in my hands, so that's a worry. I suppose I would just have to use much bigger brushes and larger paper! When Matisse couldn't paint any more he coped by making beautiful cut-outs even when bed-ridden; Georgia O'Keeffe started making things in clay when her vision failed and she couldn't paint anymore – the need to create probably never goes away."
More examples of Jacki's work can be found on Redbubble.