Raquel Clarke is a third-generation artist from Auckland, New Zealand. Her career started in 2007 with an apprenticeship with her father, renowned Lonely Dog artist Ivan Clarke. She went on to study art in Australia at Sydney’s Hillsong College and the Australian Art Institute. Raquel now paints full-time from her studio in Queenstown.
Raquel’s beautiful, flower-filled impressionist landscapes show a deep appreciation and skill in rich colour palettes, ambient light and textured oils. In October 2017, Artbay Gallery was thrilled to host Raquel’s very first solo show, The Secret Place in our Exclusive Exhibitions space on Marine Parade.
On the opening night, as the wine flowed and Queenstown’s art lovers poured through the doors, we asked Raquel about her inspiration, methods and career so far.
Artbay: This is your first solo show! How do you feel?
Raquel: It’s so nice to see all of my art in one spot. Usually, they get sold one by one and I never see them again. It’s not often I get to meet the buyers either. They [the paintings] feel like children to me, so it’s nice to meet the people who might take them home.
A: What inspired The Secret Place?
R: I wanted to create a place where the viewer could go alone, to reflect and enjoy. These landscapes are imagined, but you find flower fields like this across New Zealand and the world. They’re like nature’s abstracts, with colours everywhere, they make people happy.
It’s hard to explain in words – I’m a painter – but I have a place inside me, a secret place that’s happy and inspirational for me. I’ve tried to re-create that in each painting.
A: How did you decide which paintings were going in to this show?
R: Most of the paintings were made for the show. I carefully measured all of the gallery walls and made a Photoshop image of the gallery, then planned what I wanted to create for the space. For example, the three large paintings on this wall have matching horizons – it flows across the room.
A: (Without revealing your secrets,) how do you create the texture in your paintings?
R: I use coarse canvas and oils, applying a lot of texture on the bottom layer. I start with cool colours and shadows, then work my way up to the brighter colours. Each individual paint colour has its own drying time, red and white can take a month to form a dry skin to the touch. Most colours will form a dry skin after a week or two, but it often takes months and months for thicker parts of certain colours to dry all the way through.
A lot of people think I use a stick to create the texture, but I actually use brushes of different shapes and sizes. Most of them are hand-me-downs from my father or Rowan (my partner)’s father, who is also an artist.
A: What was it like growing up in an artistic family?
R: I grew up being dragged into art galleries. At the time, I wasn’t always inspired, I felt like I’d seen it all before! But as I’ve grown older, dad’s critiquing eye and constructive criticism has been really helpful, as has having a family who is interested in art.
Discover more of Raquel’s artworks here.
The Secret Place is on show until 13th November. Watch our artist documentary on Raquel below...