Artist Interview: Faye Bridgewater, Derwent Art Prize People's Choice Award

Artist Interview: Faye Bridgewater, Derwent Art Prize People's Choice Award

Posted by Cass Art on 24th Feb 2021

The Derwent Art Prize aims to reward excellence by showcasing the very best 2D & 3D artworks created in pencil or coloured pencil as well as water soluble, pastel, graphite and charcoal by British and International artists. Derwent, internationally renowned fine art brand, are proud to announce that the fifth instalment of the Derwent Art Prize is now open online in the form of a virtual gallery

We caught up with the first people's choice winner Faye Bridgewater to talk about her creative journey, her work and her experience of the prize this year!

Congratulations on winning the First People’s Choice Award in the Derwent Art Prize 2020! Could you tell us a bit about your journey as an artist?

I am a contemporary, expressive landscape artist, living in Brighton.  I studied fine art at Sheffield Hallam University and received a BA (Hons) in Sculpture.  After I finished my degree, I worked in some galleries in and around London and also managed some pottery studios in Fulham and Richmond.  I then took a brief break from art so that I could be a full time mum. 

I picked up my paint brushes again three years ago.  This was a completely fresh start with new eyes looking at the world in a different light.  I had already set up a photography group called Brighton Skies, with 14000 members, and this provided some inspiration along with my emotional response that formed the foundation for my landscape paintings. 

Since then, I have gone from strength to strength and continued to clarify my vision of how I want to express myself.  I have exhibited my paintings at various events in Brighton and London, as well as on my website.  My current series of small, expressive paintings is entitled “140 studies”.  Two paintings from this series have won the Derwent Art Prize (Peoples Choice Award) and the John Purcell Paper Prize with the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

Beside painting, I am a keen potter.  I am also a full time mum!

How have you found your experience of the prize? We’ve all had to adapt and find new ways of working and giving our creativity a platform during this time.

Winning the Derwent Prize was an absolute delight.When you are locked away in your studio, you never really know whether what you are painting will connect with people. That’s why winning the Derwent Art Prize - People’s Choice was so special. On top of this, winning the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - John Purcell Paper Prize was fantastic.

In terms of new ways of working, the lockdown was a bit of a blow because I had exhibitions and private views all arranged at the Mall Galleries in London, in the Gallery@Oxo, as well as an exhibition in Paris.  I was also due to open my home for the Brighton Artists’ Open House throughout May. However, it also presented some new opportunities.   When people are forced to stay at home, many of them turn to art so there has been a great deal of interest in my work and I have made lots of sales. I have also been keeping a photographic journal, each day, which I hope to make into a book once the crisis is over.  I featured with my family in JJ Waller’s photography documentary of life under lockdown, featured in the Guardian.  Another adjustment has been engaging with lots of people on Zoom, including an interview that I did for Latest TV, press interviews following the prizes, and supporting the local school with their curriculum during Arts Week.

There’s such an energy to your winning piece, the birds dance across the surface from scene to scene. Could you tell us a bit more about the work - and your multiple drawing format approach.

These works are so important to me because they all tell a story. I am not trying to capture a true representation of the landscape but rather the feeling and emotion that it conjures up. I make economic use of line and colour to produce something that is intended to be beautifully calm and unfussy. I am extremely lucky to live here in Brighton, especially during the recent lockdown because I could enjoy these snippets during my daily walks and then recreate them in my paintings.

In terms of process, I take many photos of the view that I am going to paint. I then draw a graphite grid and then paint each of the squares as a miniature watercolour. Finally, I do a blind contour drawing of the landscapes within each square, using the photos taken as a reference points.

What materials do you enjoy working with? Are there any brands that you turn to?

I use all sorts of materials, including objects that I find on the beach; from fisherman's knots and driftwood to feathers and bottle tops.  As you can imagine, I am a very messy artist (my studio is a complete state which drives my husband bonkers) but it’s a creative place! 

Of course, like all artists,  I need their more conventional materials as well and these are in abundance in my studio.   I spend many a happy hour in the Cass Art shop in Brighton. The staff are all so helpful and friendly and there is plenty in their to keep the children occupied while I browse. The Seawhite Concertina Sketchbooks are great, as are the Windsor and Newton canvas boards and inks. I also love the Cass Art Professional Watercolours and the Liquitex acrylic paints. They flow so beautifully. Derwent pencils (of course)!  Brush-wise, I am a big fan of the Pro Arte. Finally, I use Fabriano paper for my prize winning paintings. I particularly like their rough looking edges. I always end up leaving the Cass Art with many more nice things than I originally planned to buy!

Feeling Inspired?

Keep up with Faye Bridgewater: