The winner of Jackson’s Early Entry Award for Soft Pastel has been chosen! With over 1500 entries to Jackson’s Open Art Prize so far it was decided that Carlina Oliver’s ‘Under Blackcap’ was the winner of a Schmincke Handmade Soft Pastels set of 45 assorted pastels in a wooden box (worth £160)
Working mainly in soft pastels, Carlina Oliver’s depictions of rural life are based on her affinity with the Sussex landscape. We asked Carlina a few questions to find out a bit more about her practice:
Your work seems to have an affinity with rural landscapes, is there a particular reason for this?
I have lived in Sussex most of my life with the glorious South Downs in view and, consequently, have an enormous fondness for them. My husband and I also kept cattle, pigs, poultry and prize-winning sheep on our own small farm for many years, so I have a great affinity with the countryside. (I enjoy visiting towns, especially if a gallery visit is involved, but always notice a sigh of relief and a surge of excitement when the Downs come back into view.)
Sussex is blessed with such a diversity of landscape, from Downs to coast, from woodland to Weald, with heath, marsh and rivers adding yet further variety, all scenes to whet my artistic appetite. I love being out in the countryside, especially walking on the Downs, always with sketchbook and camera in hand.
Do you find working with pastels a challenge?
Pastels provide an immediate colour-punch which I find very exciting, my inspiration being drawn from the colour and light observed in my surroundings and which I aim to capture in my paintings. However, the subtle greys and neutrals are some of the most used of my pastels, providing a foil for the more intense hues, as well as being so compatible with landscape painting.
As any pastellist will say, you never have quite the right colour/tone you are looking for, so the challenge lies in blending the pastels, either physically or, preferably, optically to obtain the effect sought. They lend themselves so well to experimentation, leading to some really exhilarating and unexpected results. Using a sanded support, as I do, colours can be overlaid to produce a really vibrant surface without degenerating into the dreaded mud! Detail can be tricky with a big, fat, luscious pastel stick – rather like attempting fine embroidery using a rolling-pin – so much breaking of pastels into smaller pieces is called for; my boxes are full of small bits, adrift from their mother sticks, never to be reunited, but always useful. Keeping pastels clean is another challenge so that you can see at a glance what colour they really are although I don’t mind the mess I make of myself when painting! (Essential to glance in the mirror before leaving home.)
Is there any medium you haven’t yet tried but would like to?
I do enjoy switching medium from time to time which prevents the possibility of falling into a rut, keeping everything fresher. I have periods of painting with oils, acrylics or watercolours but have never experienced any sort of print-making (apart from trying to cut lino at school with impossibly blunt tools). I love the artwork produced by many print techniques and feel it would be a fascinating area to explore – but, alas, there is only a finite amount of time available for painting and I must get back to my pastels.
Can we see your work exhibited anywhere at the moment or in the future?
My work can currently be seen in the enterprising and innovative, award-winning Chalk Gallery in Lewes, East Sussex, a wonderfully supportive collaborative of 21 artists. I am working towards my own featured artist slot, from April 25th – May 15th, when I have the opportunity to occupy the whole window with my work, including ‘Under Blackcap’
I am also a member of the Association of Sussex Artists whose exhibition will be held in Horsham, West Sussex, in the second half of August. The Weald of Sussex Art Club, will be holding an exhibition in late October which I will be a part of and the popular Chailey & Newick Painting Group, of which I am chairman, which will hold its exhibition in Chailey, East Sussex, on November 19th-20th, 2016.
Coming up next: Oil Painting Week
An entry using oil paint will be chosen from the entries submitted by 20th March. The winner selected will be announced on 25th March and Winsor & Newton will provide £100 of your choice of Winsor & Newton oil colours.