Q&A with Kathryn Maple

She was First Prize winner in 2014, and now Kathryn Maple has been selected to exhibit in the 2015 show too. Here she reveals some of the secrets of her success.

How do you go about choosing the subject matter of your watercolours? Are they planned, or spontaneous reactions to an environment/landscape?

I try to work from observation as much as possible.

It is important to build up a relationship with a place through drawing and painting. Information is gathered that, if not at the time, might be useful later on. I am interested in the interior/exterior spaces that I come across in the city landscape. As I wander through the various boundaries of open and enclosed arenas of space amongst the concrete jungle, there is a certain stillness and contemplative nature to these places. Peering in through a fenced off area there are delicious glimpses of life.

Tell us about the works selected for the 2015 competition. What inspired you to paint them and submit them for competition?

My two watercolours are based on a collection of stilted huts that I found on holiday in the Dordogne, a deserted summer camp for children and holiday makers. I enjoyed the playhouse feel of all the split levels. Railings and stairs gave diversion and framed the mini worlds beyond. There were some failed attempts to capture the space, but I thought these two works had charm.

Do you have any tips for artists trying their hand at watercolour?

The field box set from Winsor and Newton is very useful – watercolours, small sponge, extendable paint brush, water bottle and tub – all contained in one small fold out box. Always on hand and ready for use.

Be open to trying new materials, it may result in a whole new take. There are so many papers and some companies do have sample sheets which are ample size for a small painting.

What advice would you have for future entrants to the competition?

Be ambitious! Experiment with the medium of watercolour.

Are there any artists that particularly inspire you?

In Cezanne’s watercolour landscapes and Van Gogh’s ink landscapes there is a wonderful feeling of being able to walk through the spaces. Particularly in the foreground of Van Gogh, there are areas which have been perfectly observed and studied. The balance is perfect between heavily worked areas that knit together in a tight band and the open spaces, allowing the eye to breathe and make the image perfectly readable.

What has changed for you as a result of winning First Prize in the 2014 competition?

The 2014 win was a massive shock. I wasn’t even sure I would enter ‘Fat Boy’s Diner’, let alone win first prize. I was pleased to be given gallery space, a constant problem for new artists, but winning gives you recognition for your abilities. The prize money meant I was able to travel around India, after a teaching residency near Delhi, a mind boggling experience which has given me endless material to work from.

What projects are you working towards at the moment?

I am currently building a series of work based on the backwaters of Kerela. Building up layers in watercolours and inks through mark making,

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