PHILIP CRAIG Landscape Painting
in the Peak District

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"“As with the opening bars of a Beethoven symphony, don’t ask – what’s that supposed to be? – it just is!”"

~Albert Irvin

Artist Statement

For me, I think I have always been a painter. It's not something you choose when you're having your school careers interview at 16, although I actually did tell them I wanted to be a 'painter'. I can't remember what they told me I would be best suited for, but I didn't really pay any attention, I'm not sure many of us did. I do have a really early memory, of drawing shapes with coloured chalk on a chalkboard on my first easel, I have a Polaroid somewhere, I look about 4 or 5 with a big grin on my face. I remember being frustrated because the chalk was hard and wouldn't give me the marks I wanted, but I loved just making marks with the colours I had...I didn't know how to draw 'things' or even what to draw at that time, but, the love of mark-making was there and seemed so natural, I remember clearly making scribbles and enjoying the sensation. Nothing has really changed for me from that moment, I want to explore the effects and emotion created by light and colour with paint, that's why I make paintings.

Motivation, Landscape Painting and living in the Peak District

As a contemporary landscape painter, I work in oil paint, and charcoal on canvas, linen, and boards. I love the way pigment is held in linseed oil and how it reacts to light, it is a traditional medium but that isn't why I use it over acrylics or other mediums, I find oils more suitable for impasto and wet on wet. I feel it gives you more without adding mediums. Plus I just like it and its history with painting.

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Untitled Landscape II

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Untitled Landscape III

Deconstruction, Reconstruction and Construction

I'm interested primarily in mark-making and colour. My paintings explore those areas of the landscape where the chaos becomes a pattern, creating scenes and objects with familiar and more abstract metaphors exploring the line between abstraction and depiction. I construct paintings from the mental deconstruction and inspiration that I see around me. If you stop and listen to the sounds you hear, the forms and colours you see, you start to infer patterns and rhythms, like the static in between the radio frequencies I reconstruct these into images and finaly paintings.

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Untitled Landscape I

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Considered Clambering

I reference the landscape in my abstract painting, my studies start with observational work from the land around me, Once the work has started it will take on its own direction, changing and forming itself on the canvas. Often bringing images back and forth in the space created by the lines and marks already there, then at times re-affirming the initial idea composition and form to bring it together again.

I often work over digital photographs of the painting, which helps to try different avenues and can unstick a painting if the process gets sluggish, transferring that back into the painting quickly progresses the work allowing me as the painter to keep the energy high and decisive. Although, all artists enjoy sitting in front of a piece of work mulling it over.

There is something hidden, 'a mystery', a 'truth' in painting, I am trying to explore what that is.

Abstract painter Derbyshire Dales

Living and working as a painter close to Ashbourne, which is known locally as the 'Gateway to Dovedale' gives me access to the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District in particular. Although I paint from across the UK, Most of my work is inspired by the local countryside and surrounding Villages.

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Winter Sunset Ashbourne

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Lone Tree Back Tor

Contemporary Art and modern art

Most people see modern art as everything that isn't a direct representation of a subject matter. Damien Hurst said that "people don't my art because it's Contemporary art and they prefer classical artworks", he said that "even classical art was once contemporary". Not everyone outside the art world wouldn't know the difference and most would see everything as modern or contemporary and lump the two terms together to describe what they are seeing. The modern art movement can be dated during the 1950's, 60's and 70's and signified a break away from the traditionalism of the time. Contemporary art means the 'art of the day', the distinction between modern and contemporary art can be described as a shift in focus away from aesthetic beauty to the underlying concept of the work. The end result of a work of Contemporary art became less important than the process by which the artist arrived there, a process that now often requires participation on the part of the viewer i.e. Performance art. I've always imagined the viewing of the artwork to be the participation and thought that was the point of art but that's not the case, sometimes the artwork itself is the point, Banksy shredding his work at auction comes to mind. Growing up viewing Contemporary art gave me a desire to make conceptual and theory-based artworks but honestly, it's a struggle to let go of the need to portray something or see something 'in' a painting, it feels like it's human nature to do so. That for me is the challenge and the mystery of the artwork through the practice of making it. It's something I strive for.

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Moments before the blossom

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The butchers window

Works on paper

Quite often I will explore ideas over a period of time. Sometimes I will come in from a days hiking in the Peak District and I’ll want to immediately put the sketchbook drawings onto a larger format, or explore memories of a place or event, something that inspires me to make a drawing, a 'hook' if you like. I like to work quickly, the rawness of lines and marks adds to the energy of the drawing and charcoal enables this. These end up on the studio wall for a while to serve as inspiration or mark making references. Here are a few.

View more works on paper by Philip Craig

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Perhaps the single most reliable finding in our studies is that creative work takes a long time. With all due apologies to thunderbolts, creative work is not a matter of milliseconds, minutes, or even hours—but of months, years and decades.

Howard Gruber

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