Cass Art: Phoebe Cripps Interview

Cass Art, a Nitram Charcoal retailer in the UK, shared with us their exclusive interviews with Sky Arts Portrait Artists of the Year 2017 heat winners - who had some really great things to say about Nitram Charcoal! Read below for the interview with Heat 2 winner, Phoebe Cripps. Phoebe Cripps impressed the judges with her romantic approach to oil painting, translating a very excited Sue Perkins into a poised sitter against a wash of earthy greens. Born in England, Phoebe studied at The Florence Academy of Art in Italy for three years before returning home to New Romney, Kent where she spent her childhood. Cass Art caught up with Phoebe to find out more about how Italian masters have influenced her work and her romanticized palette of colours…


Cass Art

Hi Phoebe! Congratulations on winning the second heat of Sky Arts Portrait of the Year! You must be thrilled – How has the experience felt so far?

I feel so very lucky to have been a part of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. I had watched all the previous years and loved seeing different artists interpret different recognisable faces, so it was very exciting to be chosen to be part of it. It was such a brilliant experience, if a bit surreal at times!

Have you always painted with oils?

I was introduced to painting with oils by my art teacher when I was 16. My mum paints in watercolour, so I had no experience with oils before - but once I started I was hooked! I fell in love with their versatility and vibrancy. They can be used so differently from artist to artist, from canvas to canvas, and I know I still have so much to learn in the way to handle them. My favourite canvas to work on is Claessens oil primed linen, and I love Michael Harding paints. They are such good quality, wonderful to paint with and have never let me down. When it comes to drawing materials, I love Arches paper and Nitram Charcoal. The difference of having a good quality paper to draw on can make such a difference to the drawing. Nitram Charcoal gives you a fantastic level of control, with it ranging from soft to hard charcoal, allowing you to get incredibly fine lines and detail that you would associate more with pencil.

Do you think studying in Florence has influenced your painting style? Where do you find your inspiration?

Florence is such an overwhelmingly beautiful place. I wondered if I started to take it for granted, but when I had friends visit me, I got to witness their reaction to the city and it would renew my appreciation of its beauty. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to live somewhere like that for 3 years. The Florence Academy of Art taught me so much, but the most wonderful thing was being part of the artist community there. I find every face inspiring. With Photoshop and filters all over the place, the concept of what is ‘beautiful’ in our faces or bodies is being placed into an increasingly narrowed category, with all the wonderful things that make us all different now seen as flaws. I love these differences. These are the things that make us individuals, make us interesting. Looking through the work of my favourite artists like Sargent, Serov, Sorolla or Fechin I am instantly inspired for a new piece, although I don’t quite have the confidence or the ability to paint what is in my mind.


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