Margie Andrew-Reichelt, Sunday Times Watercolour Competition exhibitor in 2015, has witnessed a significant evolution in her practice, moving from working primarily with clay to becoming interested in drawing and painting, with watercolour now holding a particular fascination for her. In fact, evolution lies at the heart of her artistic style, which is defined by a determination not to be constrained by any one medium or technique. In the following Q+A, Margie talks to us about a particular watercolour effect which she refers to as ‘scarring’ and the technique that she uses to prompt the viewer to question and delve deeper into a painting’s story.
Tell us a little about Being Rosa, the painting selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015 exhibition.
The painting Being Rosa is a ‘portrait of conversations’ I had with my 13 year old daughter about identity and how she felt she was being perceived by society. I realised that sadly her experience was not unlike mine 40 years before her! I wanted to show a strong and thoughtful young woman, but also the sadness and vulnerability coming through the eyes: watercolour paint was exactly the right medium to convey these emotions.
In your Artist Statement you say that your work is constantly evolving. What is it that prompts this evolution and how important do you think it is to sustaining a dynamic practice?
Experimenting with the medium, building on techniques and visiting exhibitions is essential to me, and being interested in the things that interest my now 15 and 21 year old children keeps me buzzing. I’m easily sidetracked with new ideas, so I always have several pieces on the go!
Your watercolours tend to be very dense, dark and atmospheric. How do you achieve this effect?
This effect is achieved by layering thin washes of watercolour paint until I have an almost matt covering, letting each layer dry before painting the next. I could use gouache to achieve a more dense covering but I wouldn’t achieve the ghostly marks that are created when the drips or puddles dry between the layers almost scarring the final painting.
Though you were born in England, you have travelled widely, living in Germany, Hong Kong and Australia, 4 particularly contrasting cultures! How, if at all, have these experiences impacted upon your practice?
My experience of living in many different countries (courtesy of my dad being in the British Army) as a young girl of colour in the 70’s and 80’s had a huge effect on me which I indulge by making subtle references to the emotions I recall in my work, some of which were negative. Cultures may be different but disappointingly, similar emotions drive all of them!
Many of your watercolours feature subjects whose face is in some way hidden – behind a mask or behind [a mask of] paint. Even in Zero Hours Till Morning we do not see the face first hand; rather, merely a reflection of it. What is the message or idea behind this trope?
There are hints about the initial ideas of the paintings but I enjoy hearing the viewers own interpretation of my work. The fact that the portraits are partially hidden gives them a sense of mystery and vulnerability, encouraging the viewer to look beyond the obvious – race, gender, age…what does this person actually look like, are they hiding something or protecting themselves?
Define watercolour, or describe what it means to you, in one word.