Meet the Others: Jessie Woodgate
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.
The Other Art Fair London artist Jessie Woodgate‘s work is a beautiful contrast. Urban, graffitied landscapes are painted using soft, fluid watercolour in a composition dissecting social history, colonialism and cultural diversity.
Tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am a London based artist currently working in watercolour. Having lived in both Indonesia and New Orleans, I have developed an appreciation and curiosity of other cultures which I include in my work.
My work is focused on ‘urban life’ and illustrates the city as a living, breathing thing in all its grot and glory by exploring its buildings, streets and people.
I include figures in my work, presenting funny or odd interactions and confrontations and showing people’s emotions and feelings in their gazes and gestures. By presenting a window into the lives of strangers, I want people to be curious about the interactions in the scene and the lives of these characters.
I am interested in history and tie the past to the present by referencing historical moments and individuals in my work, whilst at the same time recording our ‘current history’, a snapshot of contemporary urban culture.
If you only had three words to describe your work what would they be?
Gritty, detailed, contemplative
How did you first get interested in your mediums and what draws you to them specifically?
I was always an oil painter until 3 years ago when I lost my studio space. I needed something clean that I could do in a flat share so I took up watercolour. Having never painted in watercolour and quickly realising they are extremely difficult to work with, I had to go back to basics and learn everything. It was an exciting challenge to learn all the different processes and techniques – things you can’t shortcut if you want to gain a professional level of skill in watercolour. By overcoming the challenges, I discovered a new way of painting for me and a level of ability, particularly with detail painting that I didn’t know I had. What I love about watercolour is the smoothness of how the pigment goes onto the surface, the look and textures that can be created with washes and the sharpness and accuracy I can get with my mark making.
With watercolour, the stakes are high as one mistake can mean a ruined painting and whilst this can create a sense of stress and pressure, I do like the fact that it forces me to think of everything before I paint a piece, everything has to be planned and executed accurately and for some strange reason, I enjoy that!
Can you walk us through your process? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it’s finished?
Mostly I work from photographs that I take in different urban settings. Sometimes I paint exactly what I see but more often I create scenes that are an amalgamation of different bits of a city. First of all, I play around with various compositions on both paper and in procreate on iPad, trialling different backgrounds and foregrounds, people, buildings, graffiti etc. I then produce a detailed drawing onto the paper I will use, and then from there it’s case of building many layers of watercolour to get the depth of pigment I am after and the right look. My pieces are detailed and time consuming and can take from 50 -350 hours. I think I might be lucky as I always know when a painting is finished – for me it is an instinctive thing and that can’t really be explained.
Has being in isolation affected your artwork practice in away way?
Being in isolation has affected my work in a good way. Since my day job as a self-employed recruitment consultant (3 days a week) is obsolete for now, the silver lining of that is that I am now able to focus 100% on painting. I have had the time to focus in on an idea I’ve had for a while for an exciting new series of work. Isolation has also given me time to reflect on my career as an artist and what I want to achieve, so whilst it has been a very sad and difficult time for many and stressful at times for myself, it has also been a very positive period of reflection and creative development.
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
On the technical side when I was learning to paint in watercolour, I had a watercolour artist say to me “just paint what you see” which seems obvious but is useful advice that works on many levels. The best recent advice I have had is from my artist mentor who said “Don’t be embarrassed to make work with depth and feeling, be brave and take risks”.
Shop artwork by Jessie and other trailblazing artists at The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios.
Introducing The Other Art Fair Online Studios, a new online platform offering art lovers around the world access to over 800 Fair artists. The Online Studios will keep our community feeling inspired, engaged, and continue to spread joy through art.