From intricate flower drawings to large wall art- Clara Wilkinson talks about her varied art practice


Hi Clara.  This year you’ve been working on a body of work called ‘Beneath the surface’. Can you tell us about the ideas behind this series?
This series of botanical works ‘Beneath the surface’ comes from a period of great creativity during the past year inspired by the landscapes of southern Spain, Exmoor and the South Downs. I find beauty and depth in the overlooked – weeds, dried seed heads, fading wild flowers or the dark and light of foliage deep within the hedgerows. 

My oil paintings are becoming an almost abstracted jumble of shape, colour, light and dark.  I’m interested in what is not clearly on display – what’s going on beyond the surface in nature –  as in life.  


Would you like to tell us about your observational drawings of local people and places – how you make your selection of what and who to draw?
I try to draw regularly to capture the stuff of normal life. My drawings are a snapshot moment and could be anything from a crisp packet on a bench to a  person on a train.  I like unusual angles and perspectives and capturing accurately a single moment – beauty doesn’t necessarily come into it.  For example I often focus on signage in the background –  the merry advertising slogans on a train that are often at odds with the reality of the journey..

I draw using a single black line pen in my sketchbook. My process is immediate and honest –  when it’s done it’s done – I don’t return to the drawing to rub out or add detail. 


You are also one half of an artist partnership, Living Wall Murals, who create wall art – where and how do you paint them?
Fellow artist Mary West and I create finely painted wall art for commercial and domestic spaces.  We specialise in botanical and abstract murals.  We tend to paint freely onto a wall, rarely scaling up or projecting. Each piece develops just like a canvas painting.  But working on a larger scale, means that considerations such as scale, negative space and colour need to be well throught through prior to a project.

Mary and I are excited about our new mural book ‘Making Murals’ published by David and Charles coming out in September.  In this we explore all the different techniques we use in mural making and it is intended as a practical  guide for anyone wishing to have a go at making their own mural.



And you work as an illustrator – how does the change in scale from large walls to small illustrations impact the way you work?
I love the change in scale and yes the two are different. For my illustration work I mainly use watercolours, pen and ink and I work on a flat surface so I can see all of my work as I progress.  For murals I paint using  larger brushes on a vertical wall – sometimes up ladders or scaffolding, which I need to stand back from constantly to check the overall design. 

I find it easy to move between the two scales because the different techniques help inform the other.  For example the techniques I use for watercolour  illustrations give me confidence technically when painting a wall.  Whilst the freedom I feel when painting a wall, encourages a ‘looseness’ and a ‘letting go’ when painting illustratively.


Is there anything else about your Open House this year that you would like to share with us?
Open house has been a wonderful experience.  I’ve enjoyed getting my space ready for exhibition because my home, studio, art and my love of interior design have always been connected.  It’s also been brilliant to make connections with other artists and visitors and meet the neighbours.

I live with my three sons and the Open House has been a positive experience for them.  Obviously I’m mainly still ‘mum’, but they are learning more about the other side of my life as an artist –  witnessing first hand how art is created and sold, how an exhibition is hung and the work and commitment that is needed to make a living in the arts.

Visit Clara’s Open House:
Clara Wilkinson Art
Flat 1, 33 Adelaide Crescent, Hove
On the Hove Trail

Open 20th, 21st and 22nd May only