Por­trait of an un­cer­tain artist

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By DEB­BIE JAMIESON

De­spite his suc­cesses, Ivan Clarke still has no idea what makes an artist.

The Queen­stown land­scape artist who un­ex­pect­edly de­vel­oped the Lonely Dog fan­tasy world, is sched­uled to speak about the no­tion at the inau­gu­ral Ar­row­town Spring Arts Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber.

He is happy to share his artis­tic jour­ney and says unan­tic­i­pated ques­tions can lead to unan­tic­i­pated an­swers, which even sur­prise him­self some­times.

His life as an artist be­gan in Auck­land where his fa­ther was a com­mer­cial artist who had stud­ied at Ilam Fine Arts School. He also held ex­hi­bi­tions and Clarke ju­nior’s first paint­ing sold at one. ‘‘I don’t think they told the buyer it was done by an 11-year-old.’’

Aged about 20 he en­tered the fam­ily busi­ness as a com­mer­cial artist and il­lus­tra­tor, un­til one day his fa­ther’s close friend and fel­low artist Ran­dall Froude ar­rived at his Auck­land home.

‘‘Ran­dall is a re­ally gifted tu­tor. He has a way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing to peo­ple and his work­shops have al­ways been well at­tended,’’ Clarke ex­plains.

‘‘He just made this throw away com­ment that I needed to be paint­ing as a pro­fes­sional. ‘Why spend your time in the com­mer­cial world when you can en­ter the world of fine arts?’ In the next breath he said he was do­ing a work­shop the next day a cou­ple of hours away. ‘Why don’t you come?’ he asked.’’

Clarke did and over the Bon­Voy­age –

the first paint­ing in Ivan Clarke’s Lonely

Dog se­ries. week­end pro­duced two paint­ings to the one painted by the other par­tic­i­pants.

‘‘I dis­cov­ered then that’s what I re­ally wanted to do mov­ing for­ward. It was a turn­ing point thanks to an old fam­ily friend.’’

Now aged 84 and liv­ing in Kim­ble, near Fair­lie, Froude will also be shar­ing his knowl­edge at the Ar­row­town fes­ti­val with a work­shop.

He has taught more than 3500 pupils, many who seek him out from all over the world, and says that in four days he can teach any­one to paint like a pro­fes­sional.

‘‘When you take the mys­tique that has been built into the public’s mind by the press over the years – that these artists are on some great pedestal – it’s a lot of garbage. We’re just do­ing what god’s given us. It’s a gift and the gift is there to be shared with oth­ers,’’ Froude says.

Clarke also con­sid­ers his abil­i­ties as a pain­ter as a ‘‘gift’’, which has seen him take an un­con­ven­tional route to com­mer­cial and artis­tic suc­cess.

Pri­mar­ily work­ing as a land­scape pain­ter, he later dis­cov­ered the cre­ative world of fan­tasy with the Lonely Dog se­ries. Warner Broth­ers bought the movie rights in 2009.

‘‘That was not pre­med­i­tated. It just grew that way. Through the jour­ney I’ve dis­cov­ered writ­ing – I didn’t know there was an au­thor in me. It’s like I’m be­ing led down this path and I don’t know what’s through the next door.

‘‘I am quite happy about that.’’

Queen­stown artist Ivan Clarke, left, and the man who inspired him to be­come a pro­fes­sional artist, Ran­dall Froude, will be mak­ing ap­pear­ances at the new Ar­row­town Spring Arts Fes­ti­val.

Photo: Deb­bie Jamieson/Fair­fax NZ

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