Q+A with Katherine Jackson, winner of the Pegasus Young Artist Award

The 32nd Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is currently on display at Mall Galleries, London, where it will remain until Sunday (22 September). It will then tour to Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge from 5 October - 9 November, before moving on to Guildford House Gallery where it will be on display from 16 November - 2 January. Katherine Jackson, winner of the Pegasus Young Artist Award, is thrilled that her winning painting won't just 'be slid back into her portfolio’, rather will be travelling around in the company of other accomplished artists.

What inspired your winning painting?

I’ve recently moved and for my submission I painted myself in the room I’ve been using to make work in. It has odd little doors which make me feel outsized, and the walls seem to be a very different colour depending on the time of day. I was drawn to paint myself in the new room because it was unfamiliar, and I wanted to picture myself working there.


What materials and processes did you use in your winning painting?

My painting was made using watercolour on paper, which I stretched beforehand so that I could apply washes smoothly (although I find the way watercolour paper cockles if it’s left unstretched appealing too). I personally prefer quite thick paper (at least 300 gsm) because it will withstand me manipulating the pigments quite roughly, and I usually use hot pressed. I did a tiny drawing on a scrap of paper to determine the composition and then built the painting up by layering broad, diluted washes, concentrating on colour and tonal relationships and letting it emerge gradually. If I want to reintroduce soft-edged highlights later I do it by scrubbing at the paper with a damp, firm brush and lifting away the pigment with tissue. I usually like to have several paintings in progress because it stops me worrying too much over any one of them. 


What is your preferred medium and which brands do you favour?

I like to use watercolour, oils and graphite. I’ve been enjoying making animations recently too. I don’t really have a preferred medium, but I like making work on paper, perhaps because I’m a drawing student. It has tactile appeal for me and the way the blankness of the paper can become part of the image is interesting. The watercolours I use are Winsor and Newton. I like quite a few brands of paper (Fabriano and Saunders Waterford) and usually buy Faber-Castell pencils. Recently I’ve been trying to consider the environment more carefully when I buy things. 


Do you enter art competitions frequently? What do you think is their value?

No, hardly ever, but since I’ll be leaving university relatively soon it seems important to be proactive in trying to make my work visible - I probably ought to have begun before now. The opportunity to have your work seen and get feedback from a larger audience is exciting and seems really valuable. 


You are studying at Falmouth School of Fine Art - what projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I’m going into my final year on the BA Drawing course so I’ll be working towards my degree show. We start the year with a project which we’ll negotiate with our tutors. I’m not completely sure what this will be yet. I’m interested in using the close attention involved in painting and drawing to discover curious qualities in everyday things. Domestic imagery and the figure feature a lot in my work, and I’d like to make images which are suggestive of narrative, so perhaps a project which will involve exploring those things.


Do you have a plan for what you’d like to do after Graduation?

I’d love to do anything which would enable me to continue developing and making work! I’m considering applying for Master’s degrees and I will definitely be looking out for opportunities that could help me to achieve a career as an artist (although I’m not sure that can be called a plan). 


Do you have an artist mentor? A tutor or famous artist, for example?

My friends on the Drawing course have been very supportive and inspiring - I’ve learnt a lot from them over the last two years. I’ve always been really lucky in my art teachers. When I was studying on the Art Foundation at Bath College I had some wonderful mentors in the teachers in the print department, who helped me to clarify my interests when I couldn’t myself pinpoint them and who made me feel at home. I’ve found the life classes at Falmouth invaluable in giving me strategies with which to approach my drawings so I’m very thankful to the life drawing tutors there too. 


What websites or resources can you recommend to support artists? For example, do you use Instagram a lot and do you find it useful? Are there any particular framers or art groups that you’d like to give a shout out to?

I know I’m really susceptible to getting distracted by social media so in the past I’ve tended to avoid it as a way of showing my work, but I’m sure this is a mistake on my part. I realise how useful it can be - I like that online platforms can give an insight into an artist’s process that you don’t get from looking at a single image. I’ve recently got an Instagram account (my username is @km98jackson, please have a look) and I’m going to be more active in using it, but I’m afraid I can’t really recommend it or otherwise as yet. 


Would you like to sell paintings and be represented by a gallery?

Yes, that would be wonderful!


Are you excited about your painting being exhibited at Mall Galleries, Town Hall Arts and Guildford House Gallery? What does it feel like to win such a prestigious award?

It’s a lovely surprise to win the award and to have the opportunity to exhibit - it’s so nice to think that my painting will be travelling around and not just getting slid into one of my portfolios. I’m really looking forward to going to the exhibition myself and seeing what everyone else has made. I’m sure it’ll be inspiring.

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