Camden South artist Jane Wray is chuffed to have been this week announced as the winner of a major award in pastel painting.
Ms Wray picked up the First Place in Still Life accolade in the Pastel Society of Australia's annual awards for her artwork Irises.
The competition was held online for the first time year, as the pandemic prevented it from being held in person.
Ms Wray said, as a result, there were many more entries in 2020.
"A lot of master pastelists from Australia and New Zealand and everywhere else entered this year because they couldn't physically hold the event," she said.
"My first thought when I saw I'd won was 'oh my god'.
"I'd forgotten that the winners were even being announced that day, and when I started looking through the categories I'd sort of resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't a winner.
"Then the very next entry I scrolled past was mine, the winner of the still life. It's a great win, when you look at the competition."
Ms Wray said her husband Keith had a 'good feeling' about Irises when she entered the piece, but she always submits her works without getting hopeful.
"You can never be sure you're going to win something," the 2017 Camden Art Prize local artist of the year award winner said.
"I usually submit things and then just forget about them, because you don't want to get your hopes up.
"But I'd had a lot of compliments about this piece of work. It is one that has a real 'wow' factor, it's really dramatic with its blue violet colour and maroon background."
Ms Wray said she works exclusively in 'soft pastels', which are crushed mineral sticks. She said the process is much more like drawing than traditional brush painting, but, as her artworks cover the whole canvas, the correct terminology is still 'painting'.
Ms Wray says she doesn't like to pigeon-hole herself in any one genre of artworks, and enjoys playing around with landscapes, portraits and even abstracts as well as still life.
She takes photos of things she finds inspiring, then works on the images - "I might darken them, lighten them, take some things out or add other bits in" - until she's satisfied, then begins crafting her work on the canvas.
"Even in the process of working on it, you change your ideas," Ms Wray said.
"I think it's a real evolving thing. You never end up with what you decided to do at the start."
Ms Wray has entered another of her works into the Fisher's Ghost Art Prize this year, and has a exhibition coming up at Old Fire Station Community Arts Centre in Kiama from October 2-7.
Explore more: janewrayart.com