Name: Jacqui Pemberton
Website address:
Location: Albany, Western Australia



Please tell us a little about how you got started in coloured pencil art.

I can still remember my early childhood days in England (my birthplace), when as a four year old, my grandmother would present me with a sketch pad and box of pencils whenever the family would go to visit her. I would sit for hours drawing and colouring, and can still recall one of my first drawings of my other grandmother’s very ‘English’ house and garden which I could reproduce to this day.  As I went through junior school, I would often be ‘caught’ by the teachers for sitting in the back row ‘doodling’ rather than doing the maths ( they obviously didn’t know about right brain power back then!), and of course my favourite subject was art.  I always seemed to enjoy drawing what I could directly see, in preference to drawing from my imagination, and was always good at copying from other pictures etc.  As a young teenager I would spend hours copying images from ‘Donald Duck’ comics. I would colour them with coloured pencils and crayons, and then my dad would spray them with some sort of varnish to make them shiny like the comics!  At age 14 I presented one of my comic pieces at a garden fete and won first prize!

By my early 20’s I had completed a distant ed certificate course in commercial art which covered all aspects of precise drawing and lettering, and also a certificate in art and design at a local Western Australian TAFE college.  The art and design course pushed me to work with many subjects in numerous mediums and in many styles. I was always happiest when reproducing what I saw in detail, rather than abstract contemporary styles.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s whilst living in some of the remotest national parks on the south coast of Western Australia with my ‘ranger’ husband, I found myself in paradise, surrounded by nature. I discovered that when I truly ‘looked’ into the heart of nature I could understand everything better. Each day as I fossicked about the bush discovering the flora, fauna, bird life, marine life, and the amazing textures found in the natural environment I wanted to draw everything in sight, in detail, to capture the precious moments.

My own style began to develop into detailed botanical illustration when I was asked in 1999 to work on a set of scientific illustrations from pressed specimens for the publication ‘Flora of the South West’.  Those drawings, some microscopic, were worked in pen and ink in line and stipple, and I enjoyed combining my art with science.  I continued to draw in detail and created a series of botanical graphite drawings which, when displayed in local galleries gained me a lot of positive feedback.  I also ventured into the art of pencil portraiture of people for a while, and created many drawings mostly of my family.

By 2005 I felt I would like to start adding some colour into my art pieces and whilst completing several units towards a B.A. in fine arts with Curtin university of WA,  I experimented with many mediums once again; oils (too smelly), acrylics (too heavy) gouache (too thick), printmaking (kept cutting myself!), textiles (too much sewing and not enough drawing!), charcoal (too messy), water colour (kept losing the paint on the paper), pencil (now your talking), coloured pencil ( I had arrived!) I went on to complete a distant ed. Course in Botanical Illustration with the London Art College in UK, and in 2009 was awarded a Certificate of Merit.  The work I completed, in graphite, coloured pencil, water colours, and pen and ink was submitted to the Society of Botanical Artists in UK as entry to their Diploma course in Botanical Illustration.  I was accepted, and due to the, apparently, high standard of my work, was offered the opportunity of completing the entire 2 year course in coloured pencil. I am now ¾ ways through that journey and consider myself so very fortunate to have one of the best coloured pencil botanical artists in UK as my tutor and mentor.

What do you love about using coloured pencils in your artwork?

My first love is drawing and coloured pencils are so immediate, versatile and transportable. I can take them anywhere quite easily and use them in a relatively small space.  It is possible now to make a CP drawing look like a painting due to the high quality of materials available today.  I can utilise the hundreds of colours available to me or work with a limited palette of a few colours to achieve a desired effect.  Compared to any other medium, when working with colour pencil  I feel much more ‘in control’ of what I am doing.  I can sharpen the pencils to equal the point of the finest sable brush to create the detail I require for precise botanical work. I love layering the colours and watching my subjects emerge, as if by magic.  If I don’t like the result, I can relatively easily remove it and start again as coloured pencils are so forgiving.

What are your favourite pencils and supports you like to work on?

Depending on the desired effect,  I enjoy having different types of CP’s to call upon – oil, wax,, soft, hard etc. My kit includes a range of  Faber Castell Polychromos, Faber Castell Albrecht Durer’s, Karismas, and prismacolour premier’s. I am also learning to use Derwent Artist’s which are a harder pencil, capable of holding a point for longer and suited to fine detail work.
I have experimented over the years with different brands and surfaces of paper and until recently worked on Arches 300gsm smooth water colour paper for both my botanical drawings and portraits.   I have since discovered a lovely paper by Fabriano -  Classico 5 HP smooth, I like to use 300gsm as the finished work is less likely to get damaged.  The Fabriano, although smooth has a lovely ‘tooth’ about it although the reverse side seems better for CP as it is slightly more smooth.  It is a whiter paper than the Arches, and for traditional botanical work is my preference.
I have also recently discovered a very smooth Bristol board, from UK which my current tutor uses. It is infact a paper, not a board and comes in various weights and sizes. The surface is very smooth with no texture what so ever and gives a more intense colour saturation, although Bristol board will only take a few layers of colour before the pencil slips and slides and the paper will not take any more pigment. Whichever paper I use, for me it must be archival – i.e. acid free, as after spending many hours on a drawing I want it to last for a few years!

Do you have any particular themes or subjects in your art? What are they and why ?

Yes, without a doubt, natural History and wildlife illustration – currently focussing on native flora of Australia. When I see something beautiful in nature which captures my attention, I am not content to just look at it or photograph it, I have a need within me to capture it on paper with my pencils, whether it be a quick sketch or a finished detailed drawing.  For me, completing a drawing of the different stages of growth of a plant is the equivalent of capturing a moment in time with a camera lens, only unlike a quick glance with a camera I would have discovered the true essence of the subject.  For me nature drawing is a journey of discovery. It is an art form which brings me the utmost enjoyment whilst at the same time, satisfying a sense of wonder within.I am constantly energized and invigorated by the coastal environment of Australia more than any other part of the natural environment.  I am fascinated by what the tide brings and takes away, the fragility of the plant life which clings to dunes and barren rocks in all weathers, the stories which can be imagined from finding beach flotsam or a piece of drift wood, the world beneath the vast blue ocean and the food obtainable from it and the fragile land, the bird life, the history, the colours, the smells, the sights, the sounds and the sheer freedom and wonder of the coastline. This is what drives my passion for illustrating the uniqueness of these diverse eco systems.  For this nature loving artist, the personal vision to illustrate the very essence of coastal Australia in art will be my life journey of self discovery. It will, perhaps, also be a source of understanding for those who choose to stop and gaze upon my art, which will then encourage them to discover an essence of nature not necessarily revealed to them before.

Please tell us about any Awards or Exhibitions  you have been featured in.

As yet I have not entered any of my work up for awards etc, however I intend to submit a piece or two for the ‘Canberra Botanical’  exhibition later this year, and would like to enter the Margaret Flockton Award, and the Waterhouse prize in the future.I do offer my work for sale, as originals, prints, cards and gifts, in shops and galleries around WA, and via my web site. I also conduct short workshops in town, and country areas for individuals or small groups, in the art of natural history drawing with pencils.

Thankyou so much Jacqui for letting us get to know you and your beautiful artwork and being our Featured Member for June.
Please leave a comment on Jacqui’s profile and visit her website to see more of her work.
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