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In the spotlight with Carne Griffiths

Carne Griffiths work is beautiful, intricate and captivating. Each piece is built up with numerous detailed layers to create stunning visual portraits. He very kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his unique style…

CF: Thank you so much for talking to us today, we really appreciate it

CG: It’s a pleasure.​

Ok. So firstly, how would you describe your wonderful work?
In short, I would describe my work as a fascination with portraiture, nature and the automatic process – I love to mix figurative and abstract elements and to tap into a free-flowing drawing style which relies very much on impulse and the subconscious to create layered paintings. 

The intricate detail in Carne's work is stunning. This is piece is called Guilt.
‘Guilt’ by Carne Griffiths is a wonderful example, showing the incredible detail and layers that go into his work

You can certainly see that in your work, the detail is incredible. Earlier in your career you worked as a highly successful gold wire embroidery designer, did this influence your painting style?
Embroidery design was a real challenge for me. I served an apprenticeship with a wonderful guy, Ken Miles, who was fastidious, organised and meticulous in his preparation and penmanship – all things which do not come naturally to me. When you are drawing floral pattern for 4-5 hours a day over a period of 10 years you build up a visual language and kind of handwriting which then creeps into everything you do. When I began painting portraiture again I couldn’t help but include these elements and as my style developed I wanted to include more and more of the elements which were unique to my background. My aim when painting is to include as many things that I am passionate about as possible.

You are referred to as ‘The Organic Painter’, can you explain a bit about this?
The organic element is a little bit of a play on words and refers as much to my approach to painting as it does with the materials I use. in the same way that Organic architecture is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world, my paintings aim to embrace the elements of the natural world we may have lost sight of.

Carne’s beautiful book ‘The Organic Painter’ reveals great tips and tricks using a variety of unusual ingredients

You were recently invited to paint in Cambodia, which must have been a wonderful experience. What have been the highlights of your career so far?
There have been many highlights on my journey so far, Cambodia was definitely one of them, but any opportunity to travel and paint or at least exhibit my artwork is a real bonus for me. I have had solo exhibitions in Hong Kong, Dubai, Italy, Germany and of course around the UK  

Where do your ideas come from, what inspires you? 
I will normally begin a painting without a concrete idea or message – part of the painting process that interests me is what happens in the moment. Each mark made on the paper or canvas will create something unexpected and the proceeding marks are in fact a reaction to what has happened beforehand. I love chaos and chance but I like it to evolve in the work. A change of materials will change my painting style quite a lot and this is because I like to see what the materials will do with little intervention.

The underlying ethos behind the work is our relationship with nature yet I do not aim to paint an explicit message in the piece. The message is contained within the layers and marks in each painting and to some extent the way it is painted and my experience of painting itself. 

We love the idea of the paintings evolving. Do you have any favourite pieces you’ve produced?
I always try to look forwards with paintings – the most satisfying part of painting is the element of surprise while creating something new, so I don’t really look back at the work as much as I look forward to painting the next. However, it is the paintings that break new grounds that stick in the mind most for me. Paintings such as ‘Just out of reach’ and ‘Relinquished’ both stand out as turning points in my work. 

‘Just out of reach’ by Carne Griffiths
‘Relinquished’ by Carne Griffiths

Both of those paintings are stunning, Which other artists do you admire?
I love to collect work and have several pieces in my own collection from contemporaries. Particular favourites include works from George Morton Clarke, Ben Murphy, Marco Mazzoni, Rowan Newton and Dan Baldwin. I’m also a big fan of the works of Anthony Micallef, Jake wood Evans and Robert Sample.

We’re huge fans of Micallef too. What are your thoughts on the art scene at the moment?
I am enjoying the freedom artists appear to have with organising their own practice, there are so many ways to bring your art to an audience now and there is a strong element of creativity involved in this. It also breaks away from the traditional mold of Agents and Gallerists which although are really important shouldn’t be the only way for artists to successfully build their careers. 

What advice would you give artists just starting out?
Don’t focus on selling or showing – give yourself a period of time to immerse yourself in your work so that you can understand your potential. I read recently that Ireland is looking to support early career artists by enabling a benefit system to allow this freedom of expression without the worry of producing commercial work in order to survive. It’s refreshing to see this kind of support. My other advice would be to combine all the things you are passionate about in your painting.

What’s next for Carne Griffiths?
Next up on the list is The Asylum II show at the Crypt, Kings Cross, which opens this Thursday evening (25th July) – a great line up and what promises to be a knockout event.!!

CF: We’ve seen the line up for that show it looks amazing! Thanks so much for talking to us and good luck for the show.

CG: Yeah it’s gonna be a great event. Thanks for having me.

If you want to find out more about Carne’s work, here’s a few links that’ll get you started…


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