Jan 18, 2011

An Interview With Jeff Phillips - Welsh Artist & Illustrator

Jeff Phillips is an accomplished portrait artist and illustrator based in Swansea, South Wales. He is a professional artist with over twenty five years experience and has built up an extensive portfolio of art work. On 23rd November 2001 he received a life long fellowship for his Millennium award winning project “The Wheel of Balance”, He subsequently lectured in Spain where he delivered a series of talks to the students at the Torrevieja institute and at local schools in the Alicante Province. Jeff has kindly donated a series of original artwork to AmeriCymru to help raise funds for the West Coast Eisteddfod in September 2011. AmeriCymru spoke to Jeff about his life and work:-

Jeff Phillips at work

AmeriCymru: Hi Jeff, many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. You are currently involved in a project to set up a new travel group using Welsh stars and Icons birth places as visiting sites. Care to tell us a little more about this idea?

Jeff: For quite a long time my business partner, Alan Maggs and myself have had an idea about setting up Welsh Iconic tours. In 2010 we built up good connections with well established travel promoters in the UK, through our involvement with the 'Dylan Thomas Experience', and now seems like it might be the right time set up such a venture. We have such a lot to offer visitors to our region and adding to it some of the great 'sons and daughters', of Wales, can only be good for raising the profile of Wales, home and abroad.

AmeriCymru: You have kindly offered to donate the original artwork from this project to AmeriCymru to raise money for the West Coast Eisteddfod. Can you tell us what the lucky winner will receive after adjudication in LA in September?

Jeff: Each winner will receive a signed original pencil drawing of a Welsh Icon, the drawings are on A4 art card and mounted to fit a 14ins x 11ins frame. With this I will include a printed copy of the stars biography and a certificate of authenticity.

AmeriCymru: You have also done some work for the Dylan Thomas Experince. Care to tell us more?

Jeff: The Dylan Thomas Experience consists of three partners, Alan Maggs, of Summerhome Tours, Mike Leahy, Business Sales & Marketing consultant and myself. We formed the partnership 12 months ago with the aim of attracting visitors to South Wales and can now offer really good holiday tours, tailored to the needs of small groups, families, school groups or large parties.

AmeriCymru: How many media do you work in? Do you have a particular media that you consider your favorite to work in? Why?

Jeff: I work in many different types of media depending on the required product. For most of my illustration work I use pencil, watercolour paints and inks, I often use acrylic on canvas for promotional displays and acrylic and masonry paint for wall murals, in my community work. However my environmental, exhibition work is usually in oils on canvas, as are most of the portraits that I paint.

AmeriCymru: What is your process? Do you start with a gesture or in pencil or draw in paint? Do you work from live models or photographs?

Jeff: Other than commissioned pieces, most of my work starts with the writing down of an idea on a theme, working out what is required in the way of research and trying to see the best way in which I can tell a story through my artwork. I use all sorts of information for a themed project, my own sketches, photo's, pre-designed imaginative scenes, sketched and painted backgrounds, and I use full colour or monochrome in the imagery of my work to get the best atmosphere required for each individual piece.

The Water Cycle The Tree of Concern

AmeriCymru: How many hours a day do you spend creating?

Jeff: How long is a piece of string, unfortunately the light in Wales is not the best to work under and artificial lighting is a pain, but I do put in an incredible amount of hours during the summer and often start at 5.am to get the best out of early morning light. The other thing of coarse is if there are deadlines required, as it is with some of my illustration work, then I work until the tasks are complete.

AmeriCymru: Do you have a particular message in your work, an effect you want it to create in your audience or does this vary from piece to piece?

Jeff: As I mentioned earlier, I try and tell a story through my artwork and for many years most of my work was in creating paintings to raise awareness of environment issues aimed at primary school level. One of the biggest environmental, educational projects that I created was 'The Wheel of Balance', portable exhibition. It consisted of 2 x 8ft x4ft oil paintings on canvas and 12 painted triangular panels that open out like a Spanish fan and form an 8ft circle. For this project in 2002 I received a Millennium Award and a Life Long Fellowship from the Millennium Commission.

'The Wheel of Balance' ( click to enlarge )

AmeriCymru: Where can our readers find your work online ?

Jeff: Apart from the work that is on AmeriCymu you can see more of my work and read about the many projects that I am involved with on www.class-art-from-the-heart.co.uk and on www.artistjeff.co.uk and also on www.dylanthomasexperience.co.uk www.greenhousevisual.com

AmeriCymru: What's next for Jeff Phillips?

Jeff: I have some exciting projects on the go at the moment and one of them is 'Denzil the Dragonfly's Environmental Journey', an animated, educational DVD. Denzil, was originally designed and written by me for a children's book to raise awareness of environmental issues. However, I was introduced to a web designer and animator, Ben Hannibuss of Greenhouse Visual in March, last year and since then we have been working on the DVD of Denzil, in our spare time. We are hopping to have the pilot film ready for screening by the end of this school term and if it is successful there are other stories I have created that lend themselves to animation, they are 'Toby Toucans Jungle Jeopardy', and 'Bottle Nosed Bob's Bubbles & Troubles'.

'Denzil the Dragonfly' ( Click to enlarge )

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Jeff: Yes, I would just like to say how much I like being able to contact other talented people of Welsh descent, I recently introduced my daughter Donna, to AmericCymru, she is much better at this type of networking than I am. Donna acts as an agent for performing artists, singers, dancers, musicians and actors and since she came on to this site she has already built up good contacts from home and the US, this dose go to show how good a networking site this is.

It only leaves me to wish all staff and members on AmeriCymru a good and prosperous New Year and to say Diolch for now. Jeff

View more of Jeff's work on his AmeriCymru page here:- Jeff Phillips

Interview by Ceri Shaw Email

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