At Birchall Tea, it always fascinates us how artists look to capture natural environments in different and alluring ways. South Wales offers some of Britain’s best countryside and landscapes; it is no surprise then that it has inspired artists for centuries and continues to do so. Phil Clark is an acclaimed artist who grew up with the Brecon Beacons on his door step, providing the perfect subject for his art. We shared a pot of tea with Phil to discuss South Wales and his fabulous work.
Q 1. You are an experienced theatre director, writer and professional artist. How do you manage your time between the three professions?
I suppose you could say that I’m a workaholic, but I make no difference between work and play. I am always striving for new ideas, new thoughts and new experiences. This is true for the rehearsal room or the beautiful solitude of painting the landscape whilst sitting in the landscape. My paints are always with me no matter where I go in the world. I predominantly work with gouache paint on black paper. The process makes me really study the light, which of course is always changing. But I like change. I embrace change. There is nothing better than after a full days rehearsal with actors/artists to walk into the solitude of the evening landscape and paint and reflect and find a new expression. My favourite time to paint is between 4pm and 8pm when the light and colours are so rich.
Q 2. When did you start painting British landscapes? How do they inspire your work?
I was lucky enough to have great Art teachers at school. I’m still friends with one 50 years on. They always encouraged me to reinvent the world through expression. Such innovatory teaching touched my inner self and has stayed with me throughout my life. This was the same in my Youth Club art class and the local Art Society. Such inclusion at an early age ensured that painting would always be a part of my life. They ensured that I looked closely at the world/landscape and reassessed it daily. They gave me a sense of celebration and a way of seeing.
Q 3. What do you try to capture most in your work?
I try to create a dialogue between me and the landscape through the painting. Yes I see the enormity and the beauty and the sense of epic before me and I then struggle to reinterpret that in my work. It is my expression of that moment. It’s what I saw. It’s what I felt. ……in that moment. Therefore it is unique. Part of the reason that I paint is that I want to share my joy of the landscape and this incredible world we live in.
Q 4. What season do you love the most?
I love all the seasons of the year. They each have a story to tell. They each have their own beauty. I was born in the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales. I grew up watching that landscape change from season to season and being amazed by its ability to reinvent itself with a new beauty. Every season is a challenge, but every season has a new voice.
Q 5. What’s the hardest and best thing about being a landscape painter?
All painting is hard. It’s emotional. It’s tiring. It’s demanding. It’s obsessional. You have to give all of yourself to the landscape before you can re- interpret it. When it works it’s exciting, challenging and exhilarating. As an Artist, a Director and a Writer you constantly strive for the exhilaration in order to find your unique voice to share in the world.
To see more of Phil’s great work, please visit www.phil-clark.org