Iain Nicholls won the Jackson’s Painting Prize in 2019 and joins the Expert Judge’s panel for the upcoming competition. We caught up with him, 6 months on from his win, to find out how being awarded the overall prize affected his practice and what advice he has for artists entering the Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020.
Above image: Elsecar Canal Study, 2019, Iain Nicholls, Acrylic on watercolour paper, 35 x 30.5 cm
Clare: What, if anything, has changed the most dramatically in your practice since you won Jackson’s Painting Prize 2019?
Iain: Nothing as a direct result of winning the prize. I was able to buy a lot of good watercolour paper of smaller sizes with rough edges and surfaces which I got from Jackson’s and have been painting on those.
Clare: What have you been working on since then?
Iain: Large acrylic paintings and medium size ones on good watercolour paper. It makes a big difference to painting on card. It’s more absorbent so the paint can be applied in more subtle ways. Just about to combine with actual watercolours to see what happens. Then I’m starting on on 4 large oil paintings on canvas primed with rabbit skin glue which, again, is an interesting surface to start on compared to ordinary primer.
Clare: Has winning the competition opened up more creative avenues and opportunities for you?
Iain: The prize money and selling the painting at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead has given me breathing space and I now have time to paint and experiment more for the coming year which is great.
Clare: How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Iain: Very important. A painting can cost anything from the price of a washing machine to a holiday and getting someone to part with that kind of cash for something that hangs on their wall is difficult and a rare event for most artists. Also even if you don’t get anywhere with a competition or award entry they are an incentive – goals and deadlines you sometimes need to sustain the momentum.
Clare: What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Iain: Honesty, open mindedness and self doubt. A train of thought which could only be best expressed through painting without the need for any support from a linguistic explanation.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Iain: I usually think the last painting I make is the best one because it’s new and fresh from my mind. Paintings – for me at least – take a couple of months for me to be able to judge them objectively with all my previous work. So I think its best to choose from paintings that are a month or older that have had a period of settling down time and you are able to look at alongside other work objectively. Unless of course you are really really sure your last painting really really is the best ever!
Clare: What are you working on at the moment and where can we see more of your work online?
Iain: I’m showing two acrylic paintings on watercolour paper at the Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery in a group show of RWS members from 11th October – 9th November. http://iain-nicholls.com/
Click here to find out more about Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020