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Out to Sea, Beachy Head, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

Out to Sea, Beachy Head, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

Why watercolour?

Local artist Stephanie Fawbert talks to HOT’s Xaverine Bates about her work and her upcoming watercolour workshop at The Beacon.

Tell us about your relationship with painting – when did you start painting, what subjects make you want to paint and why is watercolour your chosen medium?

“I discovered watercolour in my final year at art school in Newcastle. While I was there, my mum ran the art school shop at West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham. This was great for me as she would pass on any free samples of new equipment. I’d constantly be trying new boards to paint on, new pens and so on. I think it was this way I discovered Dr Martins concentrated watercolours: vibrant, vivid colours that leapt off the page and swirled and merged in a tantalizing fashion. I was hooked. From then on it was my main medium and my final show comprised of some huge works on paper of sleeping and meditating faces in bright translucent turquoises and rich red watercolours. I’ve been using it ever since.

Poissons d'Or, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

Poissons d'Or, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

I’m quite an energetic painter. By that I mean that I work fast and watercolour suits a painter who wants to create quickly. You can wet a huge area of paper with water and lay on pigment quickly. This worked particularly well when I was working with musicians and needed to respond to the music immediately as they were playing. It is also good for landscape, when an artist is working outside in situ. I enjoy the tension between control and chance with watercolour. Mistakes where colours run into each other when you didn’t plan it can give work more interest, make it more dynamic. I also love watercolours’ sensuous qualities. Loading up a fat paintbrush with water and pigment and making marks on a delicious white piece of 300g watercolour paper is a joy!”

Which artists have inspired you?

“Marlene Dumas is a huge influence for her powerful figurative work in watercolour, as well as Emile Nolde for his vivacious use of colour.”

Do you make a living as an artist? What obstacles have you had to overcome to do so and how do you subsidise your practice?

“At the moment, I am working part time as I have two small kids. In the past I have subsidised my work by working in newspapers as a graphic designer and by teaching. I also had a long break from painting and worked in West Africa and in the UK as a health promoter using puppets and visual aids to promote health issues, family planning and advice for carers. It was after the birth of my son that I took up painting again.”

You are about to start a series of workshops at the Beacon – tell us about those and who they would be suitable for. 

“To start with I am running a one day workshop on 19 May. From there, I hope to run a weekly session for those who want to explore the medium further. At the one day workshop, we will get stuck in straight away with various different watercolour techniques. Participants will experiment with how to control the paint, draw with watercolour, use wet on wet techniques. I hope by the end of the day that participants will have had the chance to loosen up, take risks and play with watercolour. All levels are very welcome. No previous experience is necessary, just a willingness to try new things!”

Are you planning any other workshops or exhibitions?

Eli with Newt, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

Eli with Newt, watercolour on paper © Stephanie Fawbert

As I mentioned before, I’m planning to run a 6 week course in watercolour at The Beacon following on from the initial workshop on 19 May. I’d also like to get some painting classes for children up and running. I’m also aiming to start exhibiting again from next year.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers of HOT to know about your work?

My more recent work has been focusing on portraits and paintings of children. You can see this work on my website.

The watercolour workshop runs from 10am to 3pm on Sunday 19 May at The Beacon, St Mary’s Terrace, Hastings. The cost is £35. To book: Tel: 07717 223 997 or email: or like it on  Facebook.

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Posted 16:13 Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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