Inks, vodka, tea and embroidery: the Art of 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. 



Carne Griffiths Original Painting Anna Lee Fisher

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. 



Carne Griffith’s art book The Organic Painter

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.



Carne Griffiths Limited Edition Print First Sight

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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