Meet the Artist: Jacqui Kiff
Jacqui Kiff is an artist who, after sustaining an injury that provided her with the time required to pursue her true passion, ‘found the missing piece’ of herself. After countless commissions and exhibitions, Kiff is now completing a Fine Art degree at Glyndwr School of Creative Arts in North Wales, and is featured alongside other artists as part of the Fine Art ‘Colour in Your Life’ TV series by Graeme Stevenson. We’ve recently had the opportunity to ask Jacqui some questions about herself and her work.
How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a fairly quiet and self-conscious person but with a good sense of humour. I am a bit of a perfectionist who likes order and appreciates fine detail and am blessed with lots of patience.
How did you initially become involved in the arts?
I was very passionate about art as a child and gained ‘O’ Level grade A when I finished school. However, I was extremely lacking in self-confidence and didn’t have the courage to pursue my passion in terms of a career.
It wasn’t until 5 years ago, when a roller-blading accident left me with a broken right wrist and damage to my hand and fingers, that I picked up some pastels and began following Vic Bearcroft tutorials on the Painting and Drawing Channel. I couldn’t grip a pencil or a paint brush, but the pastels were an ideal size and required little pressure. I slowly began to get the use of my fingers back and bought many books on ‘how to’ for beginners of painting and drawing.
I have tried many different mediums, looking for the one which suits me the most, but I love them all. My career in pharmacy ended as a result of my injuries and I have never looked back.
How would you describe your artistic style?
My artistic style has been described as ‘very delicate’ (not surprising). I would describe my work as ‘traditional’. I love modern art and have tried to loosen up my own style, however it feels very unnatural to me and so I am staying true to my own natural instinct.
What is your favourite medium, and why?
For painting animals, I prefer to use pastels on velour paper. I have recently begun to teach myself to paint portraits of people, and am now studying how the masters created their paintings through YouTube tutorials. I have a great respect for oil painters and I am currently trying to master the use of oils in my own work.
Tell us about a piece of your work that you’d consider to be your favourite:
My favourite artwork is of my daughter’s black and white horse ‘Bendigo’. The evening sun had cast beautiful colours on him.
‘Time Changes’ is a painting which I created for the last assignment of the second year of my degree course in April this year. I had expressed my desire to paint in the traditional style and, after focusing all of the detail on the face, experimented by adding some ‘fine art’ elements to the finished painting. I had really pushed myself in terms of patience and skill with this painting, but feel that it paid off.
Working from photographs fits in with my lifestyle. My top tip for highly detailed work is to use high quality photographic references and to thoroughly study them before beginning to paint. The initial drawing is very important for accuracy and so I use grid lines to make my outline drawing. After studying my reference photo, I make decisions about how I will build up my paint layers, using thin opaque layers for the basic skin tones, then overlaying layers of coloured glazes for a translucency that allows light to pass through the final painting.
I am currently focusing on researching traditional painting methods and improving my skills and technique. Most of the techniques I use have been based on instinct, however, I feel that I would benefit greatly from learning from the masters and others who follow in this time-honoured tradition.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a portrait of Tom, a fellow student who I met at Glyndwr School of Creative Arts in Wrexham, North Wales. I have cropped the original photo reference image in order to draw attention to the intensity of the expression in his eyes, which are cast in deep shadow and which I have located at the centre line of the surface I am working on. I am now working on the final stages of glazing, where I can really pull this painting together. It has some way to go at the moment, but I am enjoying the processes.
Where do you complete the majority of your work?
My conservatory is doubling as my living room and workshop at the moment, which is not ideal as it gets very warm, although the lighting is good when it is not too sunny. My intention is to convert my garage into a workshop and gallery and I am currently saving to fund this project.
What has been your favourite new product or discovery over the last year?
My new discovery is painting using oil paints. I enjoyed painting a couple of portraits using acrylic paints, and was curious to know what oils would be like to work with. I am now loving the challenge, even though it takes much longer, I feel that I am starting to get the results that I am looking for.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the photographic image and the effects that light has on a subject. I began to realise early in life that black and white do not exist, that the sky is not blue and grass is not green etc., and it is this observation that I put into my paintings which help to prevent them looking like two-dimentional flat images. I paint exactly what I see, retaining the integrity of the reference image. I want my work to look as close to real-life as possible but still look like a painting.
I am inspired by the great masters, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Ingres- the list is endless! I am also in awe of the beautiful works of the American, contemporary-realist painter David Gray. His online blog has helped me enormously with finding out who I am as an artist and being true to myself. I also love Richard Stergulz work, Joshua La Rock, and so so many more. I owe so much to all the YouTube tutorials I’ve watched, and highly recommend that platform as a place to learn.
What advice would you give to those looking to become an artist?
The main thing I have learned over my artistic journey is that art opens up a whole new world, a world where we can be ourselves. I say experiment as much as you can and enjoy the different techniques and mediums, try them all, you don’t have to stick with just one. There are no rules except to have fun and do what makes you feel happy. Don’t be put off by the blank piece of paper, as I was- it’s just paper!
For more information about Jacqui Kiff, visit her website at www.jacquikiff.co.uk!