Championing the versatility of watercolour, Cass Art chats to Louise Jenkins, whose illustrations and beautiful paper cuts are inspired by the Worcestershire countryside. Her contemporary pieces prove that the traditional medium of watercolour can be used in an array of different styles that everyone can explore!
When was it that watercolour became your speciality?
I was first introduced to watercolours at University. I studied Ceramic Design for Industry and back in 1990, watercolour was the chosen medium for surface pattern designers in the industry. We were never exactly “taught” to use watercolour, but rather encouraged on experimenting with it and one day a week was devoted solely to painting.
What was it that kept you keen?
I loved that there are so many different ways of using the medium, but I particularly fond of using it quite wet, which means that I never really know the exact outcome. I also love the translucency and being able to see the layer of paint underneath. I take a lot of time to build up layer upon layer of colour washes, which takes time, but I love the effect and I feel totally emerged into the process of doing this.
What materials are your favourite to use with watercolour?
I always use half pan watercolours, I have a few tubes, but I find half pans a lot more economical and like the clarity of the colour. St. Cuthbert’s Mill paper is always my favourite and I really love their printing papers. As I combine my watercolour painting with paper cutting, I find that it cuts cleaner and also the paper can take a lot of washes without deteriorating.
What couldn't you live without?
There are two things I couldn’t live without and that are my two metal watercolour boxes. One is the Winsor & Newton Artists’ Watercolour Box, mine is at least eighteen years old and was the first thing bought for me when I started work. The other box I own was my Aunt's when she was a child, so is at least fifty years old. They are both battered and bashed but very well loved.
Where do you go to seek inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from the natural world. From walks locally and from places I have visited.
What is your working process like?
I take quite a lot of time mulling things over in my head before I eventually put it down on paper. It then starts as a very haphazard line drawing or map of the piece. My pieces are built up from several separate layers of watercolour and paper cut work. I never really know when I start a piece how many layers there are going to be. I never have an exact plan, sometimes there were three, sometimes there are eight. I think it works better to be a bit more spontaneous and be able to change things as I go.
Do you have any tricks of the trade for achieving the perfect piece?
Have to say, I love Frisket Film to mask off areas. A bit of spit and loo roll for cleaning up areas never fails.
What would you advise a budding artist interested in this practice?
I would say that there is no one way to use watercolour, I like because its so free. Just experiment with using it with different sized brushes and different papers until you find an effect that suits you. I would say that better quality papers gives you more possibilities and gives better effects.
Just enjoy enjoy using watercolour and its so handy, you can carry it around in a tin … just add water.
Stock up on your art supplies, this month is watercolour season and Cass Art has some fantastic exclusive offers for our customers. Not only that, there's plenty of sable brushes, watercolour pads and masking fluid for everyone to begin their successes in watercolour.