Meeting Sussex based landscape artist Christopher Baker


- Credit: Archant

Christopher Baker started his professional career whilst still at art school, where he was regularly selling work to pay for materials, alongside exhibiting his work.

Autumn Fields in Progess

Autumn Fields in Progess - Credit: Archant

But his interest was sparked much earlier in life: “To develop a skill and a technical basis for work I began to copy Leonardo and Michelangelo figure drawings at 11 years old.”

After sixth form he went to art school and then a postgraduate course, before becoming a resident artist in a public school. “I took on a full-time teaching post until the age of 30 years old, and only then did I decide to make a career of being a painter.” Whilst still a student he was awarded a landscape scholarship by the Royal Academy of Arts – other major accolades include awards from The British Arts Council and The Canadian Arts Council.

When asked to name his favourite piece, Christopher talks about some of the plein-air paintings he did in the Antarctic. “They had a direct contact with the subject and are done for the moment. I am planning to go back to the Arctic.”

Christopher is now the founder and director of the School of Landscape Painting and lives and works in Arundel. “I have travelled extensively to find new landscapes, and settled in Sussex. I would not say that my subject is Sussex – my subject is a personal reaction to space and nature.”

When asked about his working space, he says: “I once walked into the old Tate Britain where the Mark Rothko room was, and felt that this size of studio would be appropriate for my work. So I found a studio that was similar in scale, and this gives me room for ideas.”

Christopher’s pieces range vastly in size, from the diminutive to the very large-scale. “The largest piece I have done was at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Called Ice Garden, it was a monotype and was for the Watercolours and Works Behind Glass section. It measured nine feet in length and was five feet high.”

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Christopher has had two solo shows at Pallant House Contemporary Art Gallery, near Chichester, as well as some group shows there. He has also exhibited at the Moncrieff Bray Gallery near Petworth, Petworth House itself, and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Christopher’s next show opens on 4 May at the Moncrieff Bray Gallery near Petworth. It is a solo show based upon the idea and the practice of working continuously for 64 days up on the Trundle, near Goodwood. “There are also some very large works which were completed and carried out on site in all-weather conditions.,” he says.

When creating a new piece, Christopher has a few pieces of advice for aspiring artists. “First, draw and find out what it is that is making you react forcefully to your subject. Do lots of drawing and then a do few more! Think about a painting idea and colour, think also about how big the work might be and what will best express the emotional force of your subject.”

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