Narooma artist Janet Jones wins River of Art prize

Janet Jones and her painting "Autumn Rosehips" won the $2000 River of Art Festival art prize.

Janet Jones and her painting "Autumn Rosehips" won the $2000 River of Art Festival art prize.

Janet Jones is no stranger to art prizes, yet she shed tears when was awarded the $2000 River of Art Festival prize in Narooma on May 16.

Mrs Jones said the art prize, presented at the SoArt Gallery, was "colossal" and she did not expect to win.

"I was lucky at the Basil Sellers, I got the People's Choice there, I thought this time I'll put something small in and see how it goes. So I was absolutely amazed," she said.

She was surprised people were still interested in still life.

"I put a very small one in the MACS Easter art exhibition last year, a small still-life oil painting because I thought maybe people aren't so interested in still life these days," she said.

"But that one won first prize too," she laughed.

She spent several weeks painting the still-life composition, made up of rosehips she first saw in her garden.

"They were on the bush, and I thought I have to paint those because they're so beautiful," she said.

"It can take a whole day to set up a still life and make it work to your satisfaction.

"The rosehips were a tremendous challenge and I had to work really fast because the leaves start to droop and the rosehips themselves start to droop.

"You have to work it out quite carefully, knowing what's going to droop first and work on that bit, and then work on the stationary objects."

She may have won the River of Art prize but said her house was too messy to host an open studio as part of the festival.

"My husband is an invalid now and so my time is pretty tight," she said.

"Finding time to paint is one thing, tidying the studio comes second. As long as there is a little bit of space and a clear bench."

The Narooma artist is a member of Narooma's Montague Art & Craft Society (MACS), the Bowral Art Society and a fellow of the Royal Art Society in Sydney.

She said being part of an art community was important to her.

"Discussing subjects with like-minded people, exchanging ideas, going out painting with groups and other artists is very interesting, and they're very supportive," she said.

Mrs Jones said the River of Art Festival put the Eurobodalla Shire "on the map".

"The longer it goes on and the more events that become part of it will really spread the word and bring visitors to the area," she said.

The Busking Festival and the Oyster Festival were other events she thought made Narooma one-of-a-kind.

She lived in Surry Hills for 32 years before making the sea change.

Still life, landscapes and portraits were all of interest to her.

"I was interested in coming down here to paint some landscapes because the area is so beautiful," she said.

"(Landscapes) aren't as easy to organise (as still life) because of the weather, the flies, the traffic and so on."

Second prize was awarded to Ian McKenzie with "The Billabong" and third prize was awarded to Peter Van de Maele with "Nun's Beach View of Burrough Point".

Finalists of the award are being exhibited at the SoART Gallery in Narooma until May 26.

Other artworks submitted and not shortlisted are being exhibited in the Salon de Refusés at the Narooma School of Arts' Studios.

This story How to set up for a prize-winning still life? | River of Art champ shares secrets first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.