Artist Interview – Portia Geach finalist talks inspiration and motivation
It’s been a busy year for New South Wales artist and graphic designer Jac Clark. After missing out on being shortlisted for her first Archibald Prize entry, Jac was announced a finalist in this year’s Portia Geach Memorial Award. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Award is recognised as one of the most important celebrations of the talents and creativity of Australian female portrait painters. For both prizes, Jac had the privilege of meeting and painting two of her heroes. We caught up with Jac to talk art prizes, inspirations and The Meaning of Life.
What inspires you?
Painting … there are no rules. You just go for it and who knows what the canvas will become.
Which of your works means the most to you?
Art for Sale has a lot of meaning to me. I still remember the drizzly day very clearly when I sat inside watched Monty Pythons The Meaning of Life and started this little series. This piece questions what makes a piece of art valuable. It got accepted into the 2011 Agendo Art Prize in Melbourne and this was very exciting and encouraging.
Do you like commissions?
As I paint mainly portraits, the commissions are special because the buyer knows the subject so there is a unique connection between the buyer and the artwork. However, I really enjoy having an afternoon free to start painting whatever might come.
What artworks by other artists have influenced you?
Every year there are about 40 artworks in the Archibald prize that inspire me. I find this exhibition influential and motivating.
Why did you decide to enter the Archibald Prize for the first time this year?
I thoroughly enjoy the Archibald Prize. It has always seemed so out of reach to me, however, after going to the 2014 Exhibition I was just so inspired that I thought why not give it a go? Then I started to consider if I were to try to enter, who would I like to paint. The person that stood out to me was Dr Karl. The funny thing is that I used to listen to him every Thursday during Art class at high school. I never thought I would get to meet him but I did and it was such an amazing day!
Dr Karl, Pose 5 didn’t make it into the finalists this year but a tweet from you guys was retweeted on the Art Gallery of NSW with Dr Karl in it. Very exciting!
Yes, we were excited by that too! Speaking of exciting, congratulations on making it to the finals of this year’s Portia Geach Memorial Award for your portrait Meeting Rosie Batty!
It was such a great experience to not only meet Rosie after all this time but to get to paint her portrait. I am so excited to have been selected as a finalist.
Who are your favourite artists?
I follow Stephen Homewood‘s work. I already have two of his amazing creations. I have loved Del Kathryn Barton’s work for a long time now, along with Ben Quilty and Chuck Close. Even though their portrait styles are completely different they are all so inspiring.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?
I always remember an art teacher at University saying, “Never be afraid to make mistakes.” Some pieces work and some end up in the back of the cupboard … never stop aspiring to create.
Buy Jac Clark’s art online here.
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