Hi, I am Anjana Dey Clark, a contemporary figurative artist. I pursue my art whilst juggling the roles of being a mother, wife and teacher. I have painted and drawn ever since I could hold a pencil, finding a canvas on backs of envelopes, fabric and even walls – indeed anything I could find! Despite taking a different career path, art has remained a constant factor throughout my life. In September 2019 I studied for an Art Degree which developed my creative, academic and professional skills and gave me confidence and self-belief in my artistic abilities.
My early works had a design, illustrative quality but over the last 5 or 6 years, they have developed into mature, rounded pieces. I create artwork that is representational and eclectic due to my varied passions and interests, though my main collection is inspired by Nature and Life. I am currently developing a body of work based on wildlife, landscapes and natural phenomenons. I enjoy experimenting and exploring different mediums and techniques though I work predominantly in acrylic and oils. My style is identified by broad, defined, expressive brushstrokes, harmonious colour and vivid textures. I work on self-initiated projects to build a cohesive and comprehensive portfolio, but I am always pushing boundaries to find ways to develop my practice. I like to challenge myself as an artist by exploring and experimenting with new techniques such as mixed media, collage, textured backgrounds and abstraction. Sometimes I will paint ‘en plein air’ but I do most of my work in my home studio, painting from photos or composing a still-life, developing and interpreting the original picture giving my own interpretation of the form and structure of the subject. I like to focus on single objects, still life or imagined scenes consisting of real-life items. I am a ‘painter of the real’ rather than a realistic painter and I have ‘happy accidents’ where I make a mark or produce a particular effect that I hadn’t intended to and can’t remember how I did it but it improves the work! For me, this is one aspect of what makes the process of creating art so exciting and exhilarating. I also have more than one artwork on the go as I am always brimming over with ideas.
My process is essentially an organic one. I sketch the outline of the picture with pencil, pastel or charcoal and then develop the form and structure by underpainting in a neutral colour. Once satisfied with the basic form and composition, I build on this by putting in colours, tone and shading to create a 3D effect on a 2D surface. Sometimes, I instinctively paint a picture without preliminary drawings because I have the composition in my head and work on that to develop it into a finished piece. I sometimes abandon traditional three-dimensional perspective and veer away from depictions of idealised forms and perfect symmetry. When painting I like to delineate my forms with clarity using hard lines and thick brushstrokes. I love creating large pieces, employing swirling, swaying, and exaggeratedly executed marks in the depiction of my subject. I am bold, energetic and expressive, giving me a sense of freedom and power to create or re-create the thing I’m painting. By contrast, I also create smaller, miniature pieces and still life works where my technique involves purposeful, delicate, lighter and loose brushwork capturing as much detail as I can see in the object I’m painting or drawing. I like my paintings to have textures and layers and use mixed media, collage and abstract designs which create a palimpsest effect showing how the piece is developed. A common thread is the vibrancy and boldness of colour and light and shade plays a huge role in my work in exploring form and texture. The shadows create form and light to bring a sense of drama and movement and my aim is to make an image that is striking from a distance yet still rewards scrutiny up close. I like experimenting with different mediums because it helps me evolve as an artist. I believe that working in a single medium is restrictive to my artistic process as each idea manifests in its own individual style, requiring a particular medium. Though the majority of my paintings are in oil and acrylic I love using charcoal and chalk pastels because of their powdery texture and the ease of blending colours to create tone and definition. One of my favourite mediums is Gouache which is wonderfully exciting as it is a mix between watercolour and oils and works well in creating figurative work depicting social subjects. Certain colours recur in my work. Green, the colour of nature, is significant because for me it has a calming effect, symbolising nurture, growth, positivity and is found alongside the other nature colours of blue which is an uplifting, fresh colour and yellow, the colour of happiness and solidarity. Purple is another of my favourite colours because it signifies spirituality, peacefulness and a kind of regalness which lifts my mood above the ordinary everyday.
I am inspired by nature and natural things in the world including people. My pieces are not typical depictions of the external visual world. Certain themes are explored and revisited including land/sea and cityscapes, people and places. However, Nature is the main inspiration for my work. I enjoy capturing scenes of natural beauty, from intricate, delicate details in flowers, solid, rusticity of trees to wide, sweeping vastness of colour in landscapes and real or whimsical depictions of wildlife and exotic animals. Flowers are a recurring subject because they are universally acknowledged to be symbolic of human emotions such as love, loyalty, passion. When I feel an emotional need, I paint a flower to represent that need i.e. sunflowers whose heads droop together in solidarity when light and warmth have disappeared. Similarly, animals and birds hold a symbolic significance representing major values and traits of human emotions. Essentially, my work represents the concept of life and living, of the natural and the man-made, alongside recurring references to landscape and architecture. The wider arts scene is explored through sketches and simple watercolours of real experiences made through travel and being out and about. I paint very simply what I see, think and feel and I don’t seek perfection in visual appearances. Instead, I have an “impression” of how a landscape, thing, or person appears to me at a certain moment in time.
There is a narrative in my work where I seek the essence of emotion and joy from the viewers of my art. My pictures are prompts to the eye to stimulate the imagination allowing the viewer to complete them from their own experience or find a point of recognition in the images. I would like my work viewed as a collection of the beautiful and the ordinary of our world and an appreciation of the contrasts between the real and the imaginary; the man-made and the natural. I view life as a spiritual journey and capturing the beauty of our world in art is a spiritual act. I paint because it is a form of therapy. My art comes from within me and is a confidante, who doesn’t judge me and is willing to be experimented with and upon. Ultimately, I want my work to be a lasting record of my life and my experiences as laid out before me. Through my work I want to show that I have observed and responded to the world directly and honestly, without agendas, as that is who I am.