Art portrays me exactly the way I see myself
Something of value, full of potential, adorned in light
A primary colour, in coexistence with others
I am never just one thing
But an amalgamation of many things
The perfect portrait
J C Cowans
Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time.
-How long have you been creating art?
I picked up my paintbrush again last summer. Before then I had experimented at school like we all do, but never even considered how fulfilling or how important painting, portraiture in particular, would become for me in the following years.
-What inspired the creation of Prelude?
For me, sharing is something that sits close to my heart. As artists, I feel we are challenged with the idea that we must not show anything which is unfinished or imperfect, but it’s the process of painting which leads to the end result that inspires me.
I had been going to lots of arts and culture events and kept bumping into people who expressed how much they loved my work and would ask when I was exhibiting. For me an exhibition was something only an artist could do and because it was so early on in what I now consider to be my artist journey, I had shyed away from the idea. Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time. I also wanted to introduce a few new works from my debut art series Common Thread.
I created the Prelude piece specifically for the event, a self portrait with a stem of Iridaceae Gladiolus and a single bloom that framed my face. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Asia, its name derives from the Latin gladius meaning sword. The flower represents strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, integrity and a spirit that does not give up.
New ventures shouldn’t be taken lightly and the first steps are always the hardest but I knew how passionate I was about creating a space where people could be inspired, connect with the like minded as well as have a personal experience with my pieces. It was like welcoming everyone into my art studio.
image courtesy of Instagram/ @farfromjaded
-Why was the use of watercolours important for Prelude?
Watercolours can be manipulated in so many ways, for me they are dream to work with. I guess it’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it! The transparency and delicacy of the medium itself lends to how I view the subjects I am painting, whether muses or myself; open, honest and made up of many layers. Being able to overlay different colours is like a visual representation of the characteristics and personal traits of a human being. Sometimes these mix well, sometimes they are compatible and other times they conflict but never reject. We are who we are. Watercolour perfectly depicts that for me.
-How do you get to the stage as an artist, where you aren’t afraid of being transparent?
I have never been taught that I was perfect. But I have always been taught that this is completely and utterly okay. It’s always been easy to be transparent. But with art. I remember speaking with my friend and telling him that sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers. If poetry is feelings and thoughts spilled onto a page in the form of words, then art is the same just with colours and marks.
Sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers.
-What do you hope people take away from your art?
I hope people, women in particular, can look at my pieces and see how beautiful we all are. That they can see their true selves, with all their layers both visible and hidden, in all their colours both dull and vibrant, that in their entirety they are invaluable.