News > 12 July 2016

Interview With The Artist: Philippa Savage

Here at Mayne Gallery, we love finding and showcasing emerging artists, displaying their talents for all to see. Philippa Savage is one such artist and we currently have a lot of her work exhibited on our website. Have a browse - and enjoy reading this interview with Philippa herself, finding out all about her passions, inspirations and her favourite artists. Plus get her top picks of what to see and do while looking for things to do in Devon and Cornwall.

Mayne Gallery (MG): When did you first become interested in art and painting?

Philippa Savage (PS): I have always enjoyed drawing since my teenage years, painting came later on. I have been interested in art in general and the collecting of artworks for a long time, and have always spent time wandering around galleries and museums. My love of painting resurfaced once we moved to Cornwall from which I have never looked back.

MG: How long did it take you to find your medium? Did you do a lot of experimenting?

PS: Having always drawn I then digressed from pencil and paper experimenting using charcoal, ink and watercolour and then on to oils when artist Trevor Felcey told me “to just get on with it”! He was right as the freedom of movement with oil paint opened up a new world to me.

MG: What appeals to you most about working in oils?

PS: The freedom as I mentioned before, the ability to move the paint around, to scrape and layer at varying stages of wet to dry, the depth and richness of colours. It gives me thinking time if I need it as paint dries and it is essential for making glazes.

MG: Do you still have the first thing you ever painted/made?

PS: I still have a pot that I made in my pottery class when I was studying O Level Art so that’s pretty old – it is now spattered with paint as it lives in my studio! My eldest daughter also has my first oil painting that I felt was worthy of being framed, a small seascape of Nare Head and Gull Rock in Gerrans Bay.

MG: What inspires you particularly?

PS: Nature, especially the changing mood of the sea, wildflowers and hedgerows springing to life. I am lucky to live very close to the coastal path along the south coast where I walk daily with our dogs. Everything changes from day to day, be it the look of the landscape but also the sounds and smells. Things can alter so quickly which is why my paintings come from not a precise moment but depict the ever-changing landscape over a passage of time. Much of my work is deeply influenced by my love of flowers, sometimes these are nature studies while those in still life are about my memories of people and events or just taking the wildness from outside to in.

Music… I am always listening to music in my studio and it has great bearing on my paintings be it the brush strokes, use of a palette knife, use of colour or even how much paint I layer onto the canvas. The sensory effects of music definitely affect my painting process! Sometimes it can be a real struggle in knowing what I want to do or how to proceed, music can inspire me to just get on and not think too hard about what I am trying to achieve, to go with the flow.

Stained glass for its colour and its vibrancy when brought to life in sunshine.

MG: Which artists do you most admire and why?

PS: Giacometti for his draughtsmanship, I love his searching lines relaying the importance of space and how different objects relate to one another.

John Piper for his versatility working in a number of different medias – it’s his watercolour and ink drawings and his relationship with the outdoors that are an inspiration to me.

Marc Chagall for colour, texture and his poetic style of painting. I was introduced to his work by my father many years ago when he took me to Tudeley Church in Kent to look at its beautiful stained glass windows, the only church in the world I think where all the windows in the church were designed by Chagall. A dull day was brought to life while inside, the sun appeared making the vibrancy of colour in the glass magical.

Monet as a colourist and as a painter of light and atmosphere but also the way he built up texture through his brushstrokes and how his later works went on to have a degree of abstraction to them.

Trevor Felcey – a Devon-based realist painter who has been an inspiration to me through not only his work but also his conversation. I admire every aspect of his work be it pencil. charcoal, ink or paint, tree studies, landscapes or portraits. His work is all about feeling, the results being both beautiful and emotional.

MG: How would you describe your style in five words?

PS: Richly colourful textured multi-layers.

MG: Do you always carry a sketchbook around with you?

PS: No, however I always have one in a small bag that I take out when walking the dogs, I have one in my car and when on holiday I take one with me along with my watercolours.

MG: Do you have a particular artistic process or do you simply go with the flow?

PS: Everything I paint originally comes from something in front of me, whether it starts from the object or scene itself, a sketch from my sketchbook that I have used out and about or an oil sketch done on site. I sometimes use compositional drawings if starting a still life, however even those often become irrelevant over time as I add new objects to the painting, edit them out again, reinforce by redrawing with paint, scrape paint from canvases or boards revealing undersurfaces that become relevant again. The whole picture can dramatically change as time goes on and as I go with the flow! Basically, it is a lengthy and patient process of using many layers of oil paint and glazes slowly being built up over time.

MG: What’s your studio like?

PS: It has lots of natural light from windows, doors and skylights. I think most people think it is a mess! I guess it is a bit mad in there, everything is covered in paint as a lot gets splashed about initially. There are books on shelves, books piled up on tables, drawings and sketches everywhere, objet d’art, painting materials and rags all over the place, flowers in vases, canvases on easels, canvases in hanging racks drying, dogs lying around be it on the sofa or on the floor, turntable and records and of course a mixture of mine and others’ paintings on the walls! I do know where everything is!

MG: What do you love most about country life?

PS: Open spaces, beautiful landscape, the pace of life, fresh air and being part of nature.

MG: What would you recommend people see and do on holiday in Devon and Cornwall?

PS: Explore our wonderful coastlines and peruse the art galleries. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are a must.

Mayne Gallery, 14 Fore Street, Kingsbridge, South Devon, TQ7 1NY ...or call us on 01548 853 848