Young Archie Winner Jaqueline Qin Discusses Creative Influences

Image: Jaqueline Qin’s winning portrait of her sister, supplied by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Amy Davidson

The positive impacts of art on the development of children and teenagers has long been a topic of discussion. In Australia, the growing body of scholarly evidence collected by The National Advocates for Arts Education highlights the relationship between young people’s participation in The Arts, and the development of their cognitive range. Reported benefits include improvements in social and academic skills, as well as confidence and motivation.

To champion the creative development of Australian youth, a number of visual arts competitions have been instated throughout the years, one of which being the annual Young Archie competition. Founded in 2013, the Young Archie is a nation-wide portrait competition that invites children and teenagers aged five to 18 to submit a portrait of someone who is special to them. Inspired by Australia’s oldest and most prestigious portrait award, the Archibald Prize, the Young Archie competition aims to foster creativity among young Australians. 

Hosted by The Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Young Archie just celebrated its ninth year in the running, with over 2000 entries from across the country. Among them was Pymble-based artist Jaqueline Qin, winner of the 13 to 15-year-old category. 

In an interview with Toby Hemmings on the podcast Interview With An Artist, Jaqueline discusses her life-long passion for painting, her creative influences, and the sources of inspiration behind her winning portrait. “I’ve been painting ever since I was a toddler, so, ever since I could hold a pen,” she explains. “It’s exciting to be able to create something that I can visualise in my head and put it on a canvas or on paper.”

For the Young Archie competition, Jaqueline created a portrait of her younger sister using acrylic paint and cardboard paper. “The acrylic style is definitely one of my favourite ways of painting because it’s really fun and I get to experiment with a lot of colours,” she says.

Inspired by the creative techniques behind Ben Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley, which won the Archibald Prize in 2011, Jaqueline describes how she adopted a similar approach to her painting.

“I used his art techniques of dabbing big strokes of paint of different colours to create an image of a face,” she says. “I used colours inspired by what you see in a sunset. For the cold colours, I used them for the shadows, and warm colours for the lighter parts.”

When it comes to portraiture, Jaqueline’s approach is all about depicting personal relationships. While discussing her reasoning behind selecting her sister as the subject for her artwork, Jaqueline expresses the importance of her feeling a close connection to the person she is painting. “I feel like it would be less special if I don’t know the person,” she states. In her entry into the Young Archie competition, she elaborates further on the deeper meaning behind the portrait. “My little sister has always been insecure about how she looks. I think she needs to know that she is beautiful, and the best way to tell her that is to paint the beauty that I see in her through a portrait.”

For Jaqueline, being selected as the winner of her age category was both thrilling and surprising.

“It definitely is really, really exciting,” she says. “I didn’t expect anything from it, I just saw it as a little fun project I should do. I might as well submit it into the Young Archie too, because my art teacher recommended me to do that…It’s pretty cool that my art got recognised, considering there are so many really amazing entries.” 

In terms of future portrait-making, Jaqueline highlights her intention to continue basing her artworks around individuals that she feels strongly connected to. If I have to paint another portrait, I would probably choose someone I know really well, someone close to me…I’ve been thinking of painting my dad,” she says.

Since the announcement of her win in July, Jaqueline’s creative environment has changed. As a result of Sydney’s current lockdown, Jaqueline’s restricted access to painting supplies has led her to explore the world of digital art instead. “For the portrait of my sister, I actually used the supplies from my school…I don’t actually have a lot of art supplies at home,” she explains. “So now I’ve been doing a lot of digital art, because it’s easier and more convenient and accessible.” 

As far as what the future holds for Jaqueline, she makes it clear that she won’t be shying away from continuing to explore new artforms. Despite her inclination to paint using her much-loved acrylic style, she intends to expand her artistic skills through the pursuit of other methods. “I definitely want to branch out from that and experiment with many other different kinds of mediums,” she says. 

Will Jaqueline be entering the Young Archie competition again? It’s not out of the question. 

“Maybe I should try my luck next year,” she says. “I’m still not sure though…”

For more information:

Listen to the interview with Jaqueline Qin here.

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