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 Stroud.
Clare is inspired by the human form and the story of the individual. Female beauty is a theme, but it is one of several. In her latest work she paints female figures using broad, simplified brushstrokes, placing the figure in semi-abstract interiors and juxtaposing detail with large areas of solid, vibrant colour. Her figure studies in oil are created with larger pieces in mind, but are subtle, quietly beautiful artworks in their own right.
Although the paintings represent portraits of individual women, they reveal shared stories about the female experience: “I am interested in the collaboration between the subject and painter in order to create paintings that hold both universal and personal meaning. The painting begins after discussions and shared experiences between myself and my subject, bringing 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. My work explores the struggle and triumphs of individuals, yet aims to provoke a feeling in the viewer that is known to all of us.”
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.
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. She frequently paints portraits for private clients and welcomes new commissions. Her work is widely exhibited at art fairs and gallery shows around the UK, most recently in a solo exhibition at Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford.