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Graham Clark

Graham Clark

Sheffield, United Kingdom

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See my work in Painters Academics’ For the Love of Art,
sponsored by Solo Exhibition

June 2010 Juried Invitational Exhibition

GRAHAM CLARK

LIGHTFAST

By Dr. Sue Roe

Clark’s stylish handling of light is what draws us in, whether he’s evoking the leather interior of a car, the craggy rocks of the Yorkshire Moors, the architectural elegance of a grand hotel or the salty fascination of a landscape. The way he lights his scenes turns them into places of intrigue and fascination.

Though Graham Clark studied graphic design at art college he has never denied being self-taught as a painter. His graphic precision, striking colour combinations and stylish lighting put him in the realm of artists with a strong design sense, inspired by painters such as American Impressionist Ross Sterling Turner, who began his career as a mechanical draftsman in the US Patent Office – though Clark’s vision is undeniably contemporary. It’s the feeling of something unexplained, of a story as yet untold, that’s the special hallmark of Clark’s work. His landscapes often feel as if he’s just stepped ashore, not knowing quite what he’ll find. We wonder what has just happened on the twisting path between the tall trees, in Purple Fields, or in the deserted pagoda, empty of people on a summer’s afternoon, in Magnesia Well, Valley Gardens, Harrogate. That sense of mystery extends to his fascination with nature itself, and takes us to the heart of his vision. A particularly striking example is Farmhouse, Derbyshire, where we just sense that the sudden wash of light, picking out a blue door and a bright, striped wall, will last but a minute before the buildings again blend into the landscape, nestling back into the shelter of the surrounding moors.

Also intriguing are works in which the artist is subtly experimenting, as in Fishing Boat, Staithes, where touches of abstraction in the sea draw the eye to the crisp geometry of the blue and white boat and to the line of pink fenders, which set up a joyful contrast of colour and form and introduce another element, almost a party mood. Light itself is the subject of Alnmouth Beach, where the man and his dog walking the shore are just
shadowy figures within nature’s grand design. The light source seems to be cracking
open the horizon, flooding sea and sky with gloriously unfolding rays of colour.
At the centre of this moody celebration of variegated dusk light is a little shimmering mark, denoting pure light. Clark admires the work of many of the great masters of plein-air painting but his relationship with his materials is also personal, forged from his own experience and very much a product of his own, turbulent story …

Interview with the artist

SR When was the first time you realized you wanted to paint?

GC I still remember the moment at art college when ‘the lad who was good at drawing’ first realized the tactile feeling of paint. I was working on illustrations for a book of vintage Rolls Royces, painting a 1912 Rolls with a surrey on the top, and I felt myself being drawn right into the sensual fabric of the car. I could smell the button-leather seats. The paint seemed to be leading me right into the sensual materials of what I was painting. It just took me.

SR What was ‘the lad who was good at drawing’ really like?

GC I was a cheeky boy, the likeable rogue. My stepfather kicked me out at sixteen and I lived and worked in hotels for a bit, then I went into the Merchant Navy, which was a crazy, wild adventure, exciting and frightening; I was with people who’d hit first and ask questions later. But I was wowed by the sea and sky every day. We set sail from Antwerp, then sailed the Gulf of Mexico, where at times the sea was like glass. The sunsets were unbelievable, with vibrant colours I’d never seen before. Our first port of call was Miami. Suddenly I could smell the land, the ambiance of it all was overwhelming.

SR Is that what goes into your work – that sense of wonder?

GC Yes, the feeling of being at one with the elements. But there’s a flamboyant, colourful side to my nature as well.

SR What else did you learn at college?

GC I studied graphics, which is a practical kind of visual learning, which I’m grateful for. I’m still always pulled towards something that has structure, something you can see in all its dimensions. But now in my work I’m beginning to express something else. Even the Impressionists had to learn to draw, to go through that process. As a child I used to wander off for long walks, just me and the dog. I’m putting that feeling into my work now, that direct response to landscape. It’s the alternation of light that intrigues me, so I look for that everywhere I go.

SR What do you want people to feel when they look at your work?

GC I hope they’ll make an association, and their emotions will be stirred. Maybe my work will bring back an important moment, or make them feel more for the actual landscape depicted in the painting. I recently sold a print of a Venetian balcony to a lady who said, ‘it just makes me smile and feel happy’ I like that.

SR In some of your works there are abstract touches – do you think you’ll ever do purely abstract work?

GC I admire work where the form’s not clear but the light and atmosphere come through : where there’s a sense of temperature and ambiance, but no specific form. Abstract artists can have fun with that.

SR Do you have more fun with some media than with others?

GC I try to be as purist as possible. I have a long-standing respect for water-colour, and how it’s been used within the English tradition. But when I paint in acrylic I use palette knives, and they can be more daring and experimental : the outcome can be considerably different. Outcomes also vary, of course, with changes of subject. I want to work with figure, portrait and still-life in the future.

Much of the work Graham Clark has successfully exhibited signals his deep love of the English countryside. His widely admired depiction of the Yorkshire Moors, Brimham Rocks evocative, craggy, expressing the Moors’ inimitable hint of mystery – now hangs in a large country house in Yorkshire; his work has an uncanny way of finding its way back to its homeland. Equally, his paintings have clear global potential, celebrating strong feeling for the local landscape or reminding their owners of home. Clark’s landscapes by no means confine him to the role of English landscape artist. Always ready to broaden his vision and inspired by the challenge of discovering new places, he has recently been painting in Venice and later this year is off to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia looking for new subjects. The lad who ran off to join the Navy is still there in the painter’s soul.

Dr. Sue Roe

Sue Roe’s most recent book, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, hit the New York Times extended bestseller list in hardback. It is published in America by HarperCollins and in the U.K. by Chatto & Windus and will soon be available in Italy, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Korea.
‘Anyone who has ever lost themselves in Monet’s color-saturated gardens or swooned over Degas’s dancers will enjoy this revealing portrait of the artists who founded the Impressionist movement ….
For the armchair dilettante, as well as the art history student, this is lively, required reading.’
- People Magazine.

Anything that moves, touches or inspires Graham Clark is likely to be included in his work and his wish is that others that look upon it will feel the same.

Graham Clark is fortunate to be able to work in most media (oils, acrylics, watercolour, gouache, pastels, pen and ink) and cover just about any subject. His leaning at present is towards the huge subjects of land, sea and skyscapes, but plans to include still life, figure work, portrait and contemporary abstracts.
Born in Doncaster, April 1952, Graham says “I remember from a very early age being interested in capturing my surroundings through drawing on any blank paper I could find – the dog asleep on the rug, the living room full of furniture, my mother or brother relaxing watching the TV in the evening, my left hand holding objects, a pair of shoes, the dining table and chairs… anything that would stay still long enough for me to capture a likeness.
In 1970 I enrolled at Doncaster College of Art, and although I didn’t have the qualifications to enter the pre-diploma Fine Art course, my portfolio got me into Graphic Design, where I specialised in illustration. I graduated two years later with Distinction and gained employment as a junior designer/illustrator at the South Yorkshire Times and White Rose Press in Mexborough, followed by a year with an agency in Manchester.
I returned to Doncaster in 1976 and co-founded a graphics partnership. I married in 1978 and began a family. The demands of running a business and the advent of computers led to me losing touch with art and illustration. Some 17 years and 3 children later, I left the partnership to form my own business, and though this was successful for several years, something was missing: I was not fulfilled. So now a single parent, at the age of 57, I decided to let go of the graphics industry in 2005 and get back to the ‘real’ me and art”. After a wild time of rediscovery I fell in love and got married again in 2008, now blissfully living in Oughtibridge nr Sheffield and painting away… the story continues…

Exhibitions
2005
The Jerden Gallery, Crail, Fife, Scotland.
The McKenzie Gallery, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
2006
The Hothouse Festival, The Dome, Doncaster.
Open Up Sheffield & South Yorkshire.
The Great Sheffield Art Show.
Art in the Gardens, The Botanicals, Sheffield.
The Kings Road Gallery, Doncaster.
The Doncaster Open, Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery.

2007
Open Up Sheffield & South Yorkshire.
Art of England Art Show, Trentham Gardens
Safe @ Last’s Art in the Park, Earl of Scarborough’s residence, Sandbeck Park, Nr Maltby
The Great Sheffield Art Show.
Cliffhanger Event, Graves Park, Sheffield.
Art in the Gardens, The Botanicals, Sheffield.

2008
The Derwent Gallery, Derbyshire
The Jerdan Gallery, Crail, Scotland
The Royal Society of Marine Artists, The Mall Galleries, London

2009
The Jerdan Gallery, Crail Scotland
The Brevan Gallery, South Yorkshire
The Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London

2010
The Trattles & Geall Gallery, Whitby, North Yorkshire
The Ridgeway Gallery, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Open Up Sheffield

Private, Corporate & Public Commissions
I have recently completed work on a large commission – a 36”w x 55”h oil on canvas of Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire for a private collector.
An oil painting on canvas of a large country residence and grounds in North Yorkshire.
An oil painting of a view of Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.
I welcome any enquiries for private, corporate or public commissions.

Contact Details
Graham Clark Art
38 Haggstones Road, Oughtibridge, Sheffield, South Yourkshire S35 0GP, UK
Phone +44 1142 299 904 or 07739 227 855
Email: gc@grahamclark-art.co.uk
Web: www.grahamclark-art.co.uk

  • Age: 62
  • Joined: September 2009

Journal

*MY WORK HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR SoJie 4!*

Reflections on The Beck, Staithes / by Graham Clark / Join me at the Juried Invitational Exhibition… / I am very excited to have my art selected, from over 35,000 works of art, to exhibit in SoJie 4. SoJie 4 takes its name from the Solo Exhibition group’s Juried Invitational Exhibition. This month is only the 4th one, ever, and 55 other artists, besides myself, are represented. / Winn…
Posted about 4 years – 44 comments

Joined Redbubble in September 2009

A friend and fellow artist of mine Tony Swaby brought Redbubble to my attention, I took a quick look and instantly saw it was professional in appearance and looking around I soon discovered I was in good company… so without further hesitation I joined. / Its turned out to be quite a journey, I fumbled around trying to load up some of my work into one or two groups and before I completed tha…
Posted over 4 years – 4 comments