Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mind Body Spirit Artist Series - Amanda Clark


Fairytale enchantment - uplifting, dreamy and mystical illustrations that draw you further and further inside every time you look.  That's what the beautiful artwork by UK artist and book illustrator Amanda Clark does to me every time I see it.  I hope you will enjoy reading about Amanda and her work as much as I did interviewing her! 

                                                                                                                  ~ diane fergurson


Chalice Well
Question 1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How did you get started in art?

Amanda:   I always remember drawing and painting as a little girl and spending hours colouring in detail and pattern and drawing make believe characters, part human and part animal. Quite shaman like really now I think of it.  My family are all creative people whether the creativity is art, writing, story telling or music and textiles and our family home was a colourful affair and my room especially  full of creative mess, as I like to call it.  We are all nature lovers and love going for walks through woodlands and the English countryside gathering inspirations from the colours of the seasons and the change in the sky and clouds. I remember how I used to feel just being in different places, like walking through poppy and barley fields with the breeze making the waves in the grasses or heavy storm clouds coming towards us over the hills.  I have two lovely children of my own now and can share all of these wonders with them.

Apart from the teachings of my family, and the odd art course as a teenager.  I am mostly self taught in art and illustration, and many crafts.  The art and illustration I have as my income and has been for many years now.  The crafts I still have as a hobby if I have the time.  

MBS: That is quite a jump - from being a self taught artist to becoming an illustrator that is published throughout the UK.  How did that process occur?


Amanda:  Robin Clark, one of my brothers, is a writer and Homoeopath.  When he moved to Australia from our home in England about twenty years ago, he started writing a book he titled 'Voyager'. On a visit back to England one year, Robin saw the kind of art I was painting and it seemed as if we had been living parallel lives with all kinds of 'spiritual teachings'. So he asked if I would like to illustrate his book and he gave me free rein to paint what I felt would go well with his words.  Some years later, Robin has written four books and I have illustrated them all. You can see these beautiful books on Robin's web site:  www.peliguin.com.  Or there is a link for each book on my blog page: http://earthangelsart.blogspot.com/.

I still live in the U.K in a lovely country village called Shalford and Robin is now in Perth, Australia and sells these books world wide.
I currently illustrate for my own greeting cards to sell and I have a few ideas for my own 'Fairytale and Folklore' books. People that have collected my art and illustrations have asked about an 'Oracle Card Pack'. Well, I think I will have to find a publisher first.  For the last four years, I have illustrated for a wonderful Pagan diary called 'Earth Pathways Diary' along with other artists, writers, poets and all manner of creative souls.

Meeting Damh
MBS:  That's wonderful - and your book covers are gorgeous!  Thanks for sharing the links. 
Your work is such an enchanting, quiet reflection of the magical, mystical aspect of nature.
How do the ideas for your work come to you? Where does your inspiration come from?

Amanda: I've always loved fairy tales, especially the old European kind, and after reading these tales many of them seem to be shaman in nature. The characters from the fairytale 'East of the Sun, West of the Moon' for instance. The white bear is a prince and needed the love of a girl to rescue him so he could be human again and the spell broken. - 'Shape Shifting'. In another part of the story, the girl was flying on the back of the wind from the four directions.  There is so much magic in these kind of stories and they can symbolize teachings in our own lives in some way. I don't know if other people see the things that I do in fairy tales but this is a great inspiration for my art.  A quote from 'Einstein' is; If you want you children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.   I believe fairy tales can be very healing.

So with fairy tales, myths and shaman ways being part of my inspirations, I have the English countryside too. Very early in the warmer seasons, I go for dawn walks in the mossy woodlands or gentle hills close to my cottage. This part of the day has it's own kind of magic and enchantment.
When everyone else is sleeping, all you hear are the sounds of the birds  creating the 'dawn chorus' and sometimes the land is covered in ribbons of mist and dabbled sunlight shining through the trees. The wildlife is easy to see, with hares, deer and sometimes a fox. Here  I can feel the energy of my totem animals.  Morning dew making the cobwebs glow. Walking bare foot on the grass. Delicate wild flowers moving gently in the breeze.   This is when I feel the most connected with our Earth and she takes my breath away with her beauty. I find a place to sit quietly while watching the sunrise.  For me, this is where the mystical aspect of nature lies and is a constant source of inspiration for my paintings. 

MBS:  How do you make your paintings and illustrations?  What materials do you use, what size do you work in, etc?

Amanda:  I paint on artist's board, canvas or thick watercolour paper and card using acrylics, watercolour pencils, and sometimes mica for a little natural sparkle.
I have painted directly onto wood and even furniture.  When I paint illustrations, I keep them size small, usually no larger than 12x 16". Some of the original paintings I have as larger canvases and I exhibit these unframed.   When my children were small, I painted their rooms with sky, clouds and moon to go with the sweet, dreamlike animals and trees.

Trackways
MBS:  Do you work in a series?  Do you have any favorite characters or themes you like to re-visit?

Amanda:  I try to work in a series for a certain body of work but find I go back to add more paintings to this series later on, or inspired to create paintings that are similar for a future collection.  I have painted, 'Hares', 'Dreamy Landscapes', Tree People, Totem Animals, Fairy tales, Goddesses and the Greenman and I have many other ideas for my next body of work including paintings and illustrations for the astrology signs and artwork for future books.

MBS:  How long does it take you to complete a piece?  Do you work on more then one painting at a time?

Amanda: If they are small paintings, I tend to work on three at one time, especially if they are similar in colour.  I suppose one of these may take around six to eight hours, sometimes more.  Larger paintings on canvas can take up to one month or so and I work on one of these at a time. The larger the painting is, the more I need to concentrate and become absorbed by the creative process. This is a kind of meditation to me.

Shaman Flight
MBS:  What are you currently working on?

Amanda:  I'm currently working on new paintings for art galleries and collectors. These are a mix of the Dreamy Landscapes and a new series of Tree People that I will soon have limited edition giclee prints made.  After the Spring this year, I will be starting to paint new Fairy Tale illustrations.  When I'm trying to find fairytales to paint, I will re-read them until I find twelve that really resonate with me at the time. Inspiration, I believe comes from the heart not the mind. I'm sure when artist's speak of their muse it is when their hearts are open to receive inspiration and time alone, walks in nature or a walk on a beach somewhere, clears away the blocks to the muse.

I have a short tale I have been writing and illustrating. I can't say too much about it yet.  If you have ever been to the UK and visited Yorkshire, there you will find a beautiful and mystical harbour called Whitby. There have been many strange and wonderful stories about Whitby but not yet a fairy tale. I will make this story a handmade book to order for collectors.

MBS:  No, I haven't visited the UK (yet) - but I am always so intrigued by the depth of historic and
mystical lore that seems to inspire so many artists and writers who live there, and I'm always trying to find out from artists who I talk to and interview, what they attribute that to.  What are some of your thoughts?

Amanda: For me, the ancient history of the UK holds so much for mystery and magic. There are legends and myths that run deep into the history where people lived inland and by the coast.   The UK and Ireland are surrounded by the sea, they are both quite small Islands really.   Legends that are well known to everyone are those surrounding King Arthur. Merlin, Lady of the Lake and mythical beasts like Dragons. So many writers have their own fantastic tales but my favorites are 'Tolkin's  and C.S.Lewis.. Both of these creative writers had incredible insight into the land and legends and I'm sure walked through portals to bring back tales of mystery and magic.  Some would say that these stories were based on 'Christian beliefs, but even these were from more ancient ways that were taken from us long ago and changed into another way.  In the West, Druids and sacred places survived more than anywhere else on these Islands and are now still held strong and the pagan ways, including shamans, still celebrate at festivals throughout the year and live  a sacred life connected to nature.

Stories and tales of mystical creatures such as, Elves and the Fae come to mind and you can feel an energy in mossy woodlands and the moors of the UK and Ireland.  Goose bumps and tingles run up the back of my neck sometimes while walking in my favorite places.  Granite stones, Tors and other ancient sights like 'Stone Henge' are sometimes said to be like portals into another world. Even the 'Old English Secret Gardens' with their roses and herbs boarders hold an energy of another world.
I feel all of these things are in my blood and while I'm in the natural world I can sense the energy and feel the magic of it all.  Maybe it's creative people that are sensitive to this way of being, and all over the world in other ancient sacred places . It remains a mystery to me.


MBS:  What is a typical work day like for you?  

Amanda:  My typical working day? I'm not sure I have one of these, every day is so different and painting doesn't feel like work, it feels like play. My partner, Nolan, and I home school our children too, so I suppose I mostly paint in the evenings.  In the Spring and Summer I love to paint until the early hours of the morning and then go for my 'dawn walks'.  It's great that both Nolan and I work from home because then we can be very flexible to who and when we teach our children. This opens up all sort of wonderful opportunities each day.

Moon Dream

MBS:  I see that you sell your work online.  How has the online experience been for you? 

Amanda: I sell mostly prints and greeting cards online from my etsy shop and website. This seems to work well.  The first year on etsy was slow to get started but I prefer to be painting and and spending time in nature and beautiful landscapes where I get my inspiration, than on a computer.  I have requests for commissions of original paintings from my facebook page and seem to have quite a following these days.  This always takes time to build up but is worth planning for because you meet some incredible  people and other artists and writers.  Of line, I have art galleries and shows I'm busy with and always busy painting for these.

The Queen and the Blue Crow
MBS: Any advice for those who (seriously) wish to pursue an artistic path?
 
Amanda: Have patience and just do what you can. In time your creativity will shine through and your work will get noticed.  Most important of all is to follow your heart and dreams then everything is possible and before you know it, you are selling your art to collectors.  Have faith in what you do.


MBS:  Where can people find out more about your work?

Amanda: I am painting for art shows and galleries  and finding many wonderful shops to sell my work in. You will be able to see my lasted posts on my blog page with links to my website, facebook page and pop-up gallery and Etsy shop.  I will be showing my latest artwork and illustrations  and will soon have giclee prints available to buy from my website.
My email:  amandaclark@hotmail.co.uk

Etsy shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/earthangelsarts?ref=seller_info



Thank you Amanda!



Links to other interviews in the Mind Body Spirit Artist Series.





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3 comments:

  1. A lovely interview from one of my favourite artists! I see where the extra special spiritual feeling in the paintings comes from now.:)xx

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  2. An awesome Interview with one of the best Artist. I hope you must have enjoyed the interview and realized the spiritual feeling in the paintings.

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  3. Oh wow, they're so beautiful. Really interesting read, I'm a yoga instructor and am always interested in new arts and insights into other's spirituality. I really find English mythology fascinating, especially the Druids and their connection to the universe and their dedication to explore. They're the scientists of spirituality. Great morning read!

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