Artist Interview: Carne Griffiths

As part of our seventh birthday celebrations, we spoke to artist Carne Griffiths about a number of pressing topics, including what makes for a good pizza topping. 

Tell us a bit about yourself: how did you get started in and what kind of background did you come from?

We travelled about a lot when I was younger and I was lucky enough to have lived in New Zealand for three years from the age of 8. I had an interesting path to becoming a full-time artist, studying illustration at Maidstone college of art and then working as an embroidery designer for 12 years.  My goal was to try and combine all the things I am passionate about and becoming a full-time artist has enabled this to happen. 


You use unusual but everyday fluids in your work such as vodka, tea and coffee. How did this evolve?

When I began to paint full time I worked with a very limited palette.  My usual style involved drawing with sepia and blue calligraphy ink and applied washes of plain water.  On day one I had poured myself a glass of brandy to celebrate the start of the journey so to speak and the brush ended up in the brandy glass.  This very subtle introduction of a third colour into my work was a real key to the development of using other liquids in my pieces.  I began to experiment with different alcohols and a range of different freshly brewed teas.  This, in turn, gave me the confidence to work more freely and with more colour until I arrived at the painting style I now use in my work. 


You recently had your first book ’The Organic Painter’ published. What did you learn about yourself and your work through the process?

This was a great little project for me.  The brief from the publishers was to write a book about my approach to painting.  I extended this to involve chapters which were also experiments for me, so the book really was an exploration of the painting process and a natural extension of what I generally do in the studio.


If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive who would you choose to work alongside?

I don't suppose Da Vinci would have been much of a collaborator but I have a real passion for his work, methods and inventiveness.  If it wasn't him it would be Andre Masson, the surrealist whose exploratory drawings and experiments with the automatic process were a revelation to me whilst at college.  The surrealists were big on collaboration and I think I would have enjoyed being there at that time.


There’s a certain level of vulnerability in sharing your art with others, particularly online. Do you worry about people judging you and how do you handle negative feedback/comments?

I don't feel a vulnerability when sharing work.  I am confident in what I do in that I enjoy making the work and enjoy the journey.   The really important things to me in art are quite transient so when I have completed a piece I am looking forward to the surprises and chaos in the next.  Social media gives a good way to chart each piece as they are completed but I take criticism as it is.. an opinion of the viewer.  There will always be people who connect to your work and those who do not.   


If your five-year-old self suddenly found themselves inhabiting your current body, what would your five-year-old self do first?

Oh definitely run as fast as they could... I had endless dreams about running faster - slightly longer legs would be just the ticket!! 


And finally the most important question of the day: pineapple on pizza?

Yes, please oh and anchovies and capers as well... rip up the rule book. (Sorry Italy).


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