Hello and welcome to a new post on Foxglove and Bee.
This post marks the start of a new series on here all about how the natural world has inspired various artists.
In this interview, I speak to Jazz Austin, an artist and conservationist who loves to take her sketchbook on various adventures across the world. She has also spent lockdown creating 100 free paintings, requested by followers on her Instagram page, one of which I am lucky to be an owner of, and they are so stunning. It is such a kind and generous gesture, and showcases her talent perfectly.
What, in particular, sparked your interest to use nature and wildlife as your subject in your artwork?
When I first started painting in this style, I was simply trying to create a sketchbook diary of the places and landscapes I had visited. The more often I did this, I realised that by sitting down and sketching for 20 minutes I could take in a place far more vividly then if I had taken a quick photograph and moved on. Regardless of how technically ‘good’ a sketch is, when I look back at old sketchbooks I can almost hear, smell, and feel each scene and remember who I was with and what we were doing that day.
More recently, I have been enjoying drawing plants and animals. There is so much diversity in the natural world, that there is always something different to learn about and try to capture. I work in the conservation sector and this is where I like to focus much of my drive and energy. Longer term, I would like to find a way to use my art to help towards combatting the ecological and climate crisis.
Have you always wanted to become an artist or was it something you picked up later in your adult years?
I have never really thought too much about wanting to become an artist, but I have always enjoyed art and spent time drawing since I was very young. Despite always loving to draw, I would often stare at a blank piece of paper and wait for an idea of what to create and never had a distinct style. It was only after university when I went travelling with a tiny sketchbook and set of paints, that I started illustrating landscapes in my sketchbook diary and my current style developed.
How did you settle on your preferred medium to use, or do you like to vary them? Do you have a favourite or a favourite for a particular type of subject?
Most of all, I sketch to document long walks and trips, which has mean that I have tried to make my kit as compact and lightweight as possible. I prefer to draw using a waterproof black fine liner pen and then add colour using a small travel watercolour set. My travel sketchbooks are also little and usually no larger than A6 in size. To protect the sketchbook and paints from the elements, I store them in a small waterproof pouch, which can easily fit in my backpack or large pocket.
What would you say to someone, who really wanted to express themselves through art, but was afraid to start through lack of confidence?
Firstly, find a sketchbook and scribble all over the first page, as it removes the fear of ‘messing up the new sketchbook’. I would then suggest starting to create simple observational drawings using a 2B or 4B pencil to get comfortable with capturing basic shapes, texture, and perspective. Next, start to use shading to create different tones, by looking at which areas are light and dark. Once you have practiced creating different tones in pencil, it is then easier to start to play with paint and colour. I would recommend starting with watercolours before moving onto acrylics or oils as they are a bit more versatile and forgiving when experimenting with mixing colours and capturing tone. These tips are based on how I learned to draw and paint, but there are no set rules as to how you should start, and the most important thing is that you are enjoying it!
Contact Information and Social Media
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jazz for taking part in this interview. It has been an absolute pleasure to discover and share her work. I absolutely love her paintings (or sketches as she calls them) and I am sure many of you will too. I strongly recommend that you give her a follow on social media with the links above. She is also available for commissions if you would like one of your own (and who wouldn’t?!).
I hope you like this new series of posts on how the natural world has influenced various artists. Don’t forget that Foxglove and Bee has a Facebook page, so please give it a follow. I will leave the link here.
See you soon.