Clifford Blakey - Renowned Northumberland Artist of Contemporary Landscapes and Seascapes
Did you always want to pursue a career in Art?
I don’t think I did immediately. However, I loved DC Comics and remember collecting and drawing them as a child. They were a very real early passion. I suppose the lightbulb moment came when I was 15 and visited the Laing Art Gallery and saw real paintings for the first time. From then I knew I had to become an artist. I did both my degree and MA at Newcastle University and also gained experience working in museums as well as a spell as an Arts Development Worker in Manchester. I then had an enjoyable period as editor of the Northern Arts magazine, subsequently becoming an independent graphic designer. I was painting abstract paintings at this time but looking for my true voice as an artist. A friend then inherited a farm in the Borders and I went to the housewarming party. The landscape was amazing and from that point I knew I would be a landscape painter. My style developed and I exhibited with the British Watercolour Society as well as the Dial Gallery in Warkworth and finally became a full-time artist. I have now exhibited all over the country, had numerous solo shows and have paintings in private collections all over the world.
What do you most enjoy about your career?
The ability to pursue creative ideas on a daily basis. It really is a privileged position.
What should people expect to see at your exhibitions?
A love of landscapes, a love of Northumberland and lots and lots of passion. I want people to enjoy living with my paintings, see something different in them every day. Hopefully they speak to you!
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
Professor Norman Adams, who was an absolute inspiration. He taught me to paint from the heart, adopt a range of attitudes and styles and to try to get better every day, both as a person and an artist.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in Art?
Ensure you get the support of a good gallery and don’t work in isolation. It is very important to have a plan and mix with different kinds of artists. Be prepared to work really hard and most importantly paint from your heart.
Who are your heroes?
JMW Turner, possibly the greatest of all landscape painters from the Romantic period and Samuel Palmer, who was a very underrated artist.
What are you currently working on?
I am working with the Blagdon Gallery on an exhibition showcasing some of my new work in the very near future. I am also looking forward to various fairs over the summer including the Alnmouth Arts Fair. Following that I hope to do a solo show.
How do you like to unwind?
Playing flamenco jazz guitar is an obsession and I love to perform the odd gig when time allows.