Monday, February 1, 2010

Phil Garrett - Monotypes and Paintings Inspired by Nature

Memento at Kyoto IV
Acrylic Painting on Panel 24" x 24"

I don't remember exactly when I first met Phil Garrett but from the start it was clear that art was at the center of his life. Phil has worked hard over the years and build a life infused with and supported by art. A quick overview of his path includes a BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute, numerous artists' residencies, art instructor for museum schools throughout the Southeast and Founder and Master Printer of KING SNAKE PRESS a collaborative print studio in Greenville SC. He has also worked with Golden Artist Colors Working Artist Program teaching acrylic painting for the past 10 years. While keeping all of those plates spinning, he has continued to be a very productive studio artist with work in a long list of private and public collections in the USA, Europe and Japan.

Phil's work is radiant with color and the prints and paintings are covered with marks made by his hands and other tools he employs in the creation of his work. The images and figures are certainly recognizable but have a dramatic plasticity which I find intriguing. While the color is rich it is in fact thin and mostly transparent. In observing the work you can see little pools of color and areas where color has been wiped away with quick decisive strokes. The work that is featured in this article is of horses, a subject he has worked with for some time. However, he also works with other themes from nature which you can view at his website listed at the end of this article.

Thank you Phil for sharing your beautiful work.

Memento: Kyoto I
Acrylic Painting on Panel 10" x 10"

Interview with the Artist

Terry: At what point in your life did you know at your core that you are an artist?

Phil: I was in the US Navy and stationed in Hawaii and had lots of time to ponder my future. I started taking drawing classes at night at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and it was clear to me that visual art was it. That is when I got serious.

Terry: Do you ever get into an artistic slump and if so, how do you rejuvenate yourself?

Phil: I work my way out of it. I make bad work until the good work comes.

Encounter at Niko
Acrylic Painting on Panel 8" x 10"

Terry: Please describe your studio activity....your work habit.

Phil: I usually do studio related business in the morning and the actual work of painting or making monotypes in the afternoons and early evening. Sometimes coming back at night to continue work. I am a night owl and always have been.

Nikko: Horse Variation II
Monotype with Chine Colle' 32" x 25"

Terry: How has your work with other artists at King Snake Press impacted your work?

Phil: Facilitating other Artists is always interesting. Each artist seems to have a different approach to the process and I enjoy the camaraderie and sharing of ideas that is natural to this type of collaboration. It has kept me from being isolated in the studio.

Terry: What is it about monotypes that attracted you to that process?

Phil: The spontaneity and immediacy of the process. I am an impatient artist and having constant feedback is essential to my visual thinking.

Terry: What are you currently exploring in your work?

Phil: I have had the opportunity to travel to Japan several times in the last 5 years with Mark Golden of Golden Acrylic and the visual and spiritual hum from those experiences is affecting my latest work in painting and monotype.

Artists Statement

My Work is informed by nature, a kind of mythical nature. The power of storms, the spiritual quality of the elements, the beauty, grace and ferocity of plants and animals.....Something greater than myself, something I can't comprehend. Painting and making monotypes is my search for the mystery within the subject, within myself.

Phil Garrett


South Carolina State Collection, SC State Museum - Greenville County Museum of Art - State of Hawaii - US State Department - McDonald's Corporation - RBC Insurance - Wachovia Bank - Sterling Drug Company - Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond - Friends of the Arts, Spartanburg SC - Southern Progress (Southern Living) Birmingham Al. - Bank of America - Price-Waterhouse-Coopers - BASF Corporation - Carolina Telephone - Palmetto Bank - Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, Winston Salem, NC - Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, Columbia, SC - Glaxo-Smith-Kline - Morris Communicationa

To see more of Phil Garrett's work:


  1. I love his comment "I make bad work until the good work comes." Every so-called artist ought to write that on the wall. However, sometimes the challenge comes in knowing whether the work is bad or good....

  2. That's an excellent question. I invite all of you to comment on this. How do you know when the work is good or bad?

  3. A good piece lasts...leave it up a few days to check!! A good piece enriches, intrigues, causes a physical and emotional reaction within you. I can taste his gorgeous colour connections!

  4. Great posting Terry.
    I like Elizabeth's comment. And - I love Phil's piece "Encounter at Niko" - to me it's good work.

  5. Phil has a beautiful series of work inspired by floral elements too. I'll have to have him share some of those as well. Thank you for commenting.

  6. When I can keep going back and finding new things to discover; things, feelings I haven't seen or felt before. To me " Memento: Kyoto I " does this. I am intrigued by the image on the right, almost as much as the horse is. The surfaces are rich and seem to be very spontaneously applied with a lot of variety. A beautiful piece.

  7. thanks for the interview, Terry. I, too, am inspired by Phil's ability to live his art focused life.
    Good work...yeah, staying power. I have to come back to it the next morning. Sometimes that little voice will say right away "this is working, this is gonna be good" other times that takes a while. With printmaking, I think sometimes the piece is good or not good before I even start it. It's in the soul of the plate.

  8. I think finding whether a work is good or bad only really comes over time and becoming familiar with what the work is. It can be very hard to see our own work. My favorite painting teacher at MassArt, Rob Moore, said it was "seeing what is there instead of what you think is there."

  9. These insights are wonderful. Would love to hear more.

  10. As an abstract artist I strive to evoke emotions and engage the senses of the viewer. Phil's art work is very successful in this regard. I clicked on Memento and was able to see the brush strokes, the lines, the marks and the layering of color. What a great intimacy he is able to create with the viewer. Wonderful.

  11. Thank you Denise. Phil has really explored the monoprint technique and developed some beautiful work.