Art Words by Michael Clark


Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1983, Michael has been painting and exhibiting. His latest work can be seen at Auchterarder’s Ruthven Gallery, from 12 May to 7 July

When I first travelled to France as an art student in the 1980s, it began a love affair that has lasted thirty years. The early trips were to Paris, followed by family holidays in Normandy, the south-west and Provence. I devoured French art and French films, relished French food and wine, and admired a way of life that seemed to me to be pretty near perfect.

About ten years ago, I rented a house in Montjoi, in the south-west of the country. The owners, David and Marion Donaldson, introduced me to David Brown, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and the former owner of Gullane’s Michelin-starred restaurant La Potinière. He owns a house in France with his former wife and business partner Hilary.

What began as a casual invitation to join him in the Sud-Ouest in October to draw, cook, enjoy wine and conversation, has become a regular feature of my diary and has inspired many paintings. The house in Puymirol is only two hours from Bordeaux, a city I adore.

‘Waiter, Bordeaux’, 16 x 16 inches, oil on linen

My paintings are often inspired by a fleeting moment, just a snapshot. For the photographer, the picture is captured in a fraction of a second; for me, though, as a painter, the work has just begun.

Waiter, Bordeaux shows an everyday scene. It’s just a waiter doing his job and a woman about to order coffee. Of course, the colours help – the awning, a huge block of red against honey-coloured stone, was a gift. I wanted to strip the painting down to the minimum, to say everything in a pared-back way, but still hint at the warm day, the richness of the building and the scene being played out.

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