“I have found a painting style that I enjoy and am experimenting with colour and pattern”
As we come to the end of the Worthing Museum 2013 open, w.art has managed to interview Claire Garcka, one of the prize winners. Claire trained in Ceramic design, but her desire to experiment with different materials has led her from painting to jewellery making to lino printing. Claire is best known however for her colourful work in oils. She combines all this with her work as a gardener at Highdown Gardens in Worthing. We spent some time with her in her home studio and out and about in Highdown Gardens, where she spoke about how lucky she feels to have such a creative/artistic job in gardening, since earning enough to make a living from art can be very difficult. Claire admits it took a while for her to relax into her current style of painting…but completely loves what she does, and we think it shows in her beautiful work…
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
Really positive early memories, we painted a huge jungle mural in the hall at primary school. At secondary I remember the teacher removing part of someone’s painting with a razor blade as we were forbidden to use black (or maybe I imagined that?!) Possibly explains my love of using black now!
What would your school report have said about your art?
Imaginative. Good colour. Lacks depth.
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I did a Foundation in my early twenties which I absolutely loved, then went on to do a degree in Ceramic Design. I took up painting four or five years ago when I started an evening class. I’ve been hooked ever since, on painting and evening classes!
What or who has inspired you over the years?
I’ve always been really inspired by nature and architecture. I love colourful landscapes, quite often my paintings are inspired by places I’ve visited.
I’ve had some lovely tutors over the years who have inspired and encouraged me.
What Artists do you admire?
Paul Klee, Alfred Wallis, Tom Thomson, Graham Crowley, David Hockney, Lowry, Picasso, Van Gogh.
What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?
Wreck of the Alba by Alfred Wallis.
With mine, usually the one I’ve just finished.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved?
Winning a prize at the Worthing Open this year. I’m still surprised!
What have you sacrificed for your art?
Cooking. Not painting would be a sacrifice.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
Stick at it.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
I guess, just do what you love. It’s tempting to do what you think you should do, but better to follow your instinct and do what you want to do.
How do you start a piece of work?
I usually start with a photograph and sketch out the composition I want. I give it a black outline then block in the colour.
When is it finished?
When I’ve been over and over and over it. Then over it again maybe…
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
Yes, I love listening to the radio while I work. My painting is at its best when I’m a bit distracted from the process. If I think about it too much it all goes wrong (a hangover can help!)
What is your favourite medium to work with/in?
Oils, I have a tendency to overwork anything else and I love the colour you can achieve. I am currently trying out lino printing and finding it highly addictive!
Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever?
No, thankfully, I don’t need that kind of pressure!
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?
Yes, I love painting. I used to be idealistic about making a living solely from art but now it’s about what I get out of doing it. I’m striving to create more time for it.
Is there anything you avoid with your art?
Portraits, especially of anyone still living! I did a painting of my son once, he was most disgruntled that I’d done him the wrong colour.
Thank you Claire, we love your style, brilliant.