Clare Bonnet graduated with a degree in fine art from Leeds University in 2004, which included a year studying painting at the Accademia di Belle Arte di Brera in Milan. After graduating Clare carried out her artistic practice alongside teaching fine art, and she now works full-time as an artist in Bristol. In 2017 Clare was selected by the Affordable Art Fair Battersea team to paint the portrait of the winner of their spring fair portrait competition.
Clare is inspired by the human form and the story of the individual. Her work explores their struggles and triumphs, yet aims to provoke feelings in the viewer that are known to us all. Female beauty is a theme, but it is one of several.
During a recent year-long stay in Cornwall, Clare began exploring the resonance between the figure and landscape, producing work that provides a contemporary reference to British artist Laura Knight’s pre-war figurative landscapes. Placing the female form within rock lines and on cliff tops marks a natural progression from her previous figure/interior series. The elemental force of the sea asks everything yet nothing of both the subject and the viewer. The use of dynamic colour and lose mark-marking creates a poised contradiction of expectation and peace. Clare was particularly interested in the internal dialogue each individual has with the sea – the questions we ask when greeting the ocean.
Clare continues to work in Bristol, exploring the female voice through paint. Her recent oil studies are created with larger pieces in mind, but are subtle, quietly beautiful artworks in their own right.
Alongside creating work inspired by people she knows, Clare enjoys working on private portrait commissions. She places much importance on the collaboration between the sitter and the painter, working to create a balance of quiet beauty and dramatic atmosphere. The painting begins after discussions and shared experiences, which brings an honesty and history to the work. Narrative plays a big part in the development of the paintings, although this is not always played out visually.
Combining oil paint with a variety of other materials allows Clare to contrast areas of loose mark-making alongside finer blending. The comparison of expressive and painterly versus formal and traditional brings an immediacy to her work. To uphold the essence and vitality of the figure and suggest tension or movement, Clare leaves areas unfinished or outlined. Her aim is to give the viewer a notion of possibility – a sense that something has just happened or is about to happen.
Clare’s work is exhibited at art fairs and gallery shows around the UK, most recently being selected for group exhibitions at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford and Surface Gallery in Nottingham.