A gracious Glebe home houses ?the life and work of the highly-respected Canadian artist.
Philip Craig picked up his first paintbrush in kindergarten and knew he was going to be an artist. He never thought of anything else. Painting gave him a great level of satisfaction and sense of involvement in his own creativity. His supportive mother told him that whatever he was working on was the most wonderful thing she had ever seen.
Born and raised in Ottawa, he now lives in a rambling century-old Glebe home with his childhood sweetheart and collaborator, Di. The walls serve as a veritable gallery for not only his works of landscapes and still life in oils and acrylics, but also of works by his accomplished children too. Jordan (36) specializes in black and white photography, Shannon (33) paints in oils like her Dad, and Jonathan (29) works in films and is a special effects makeup artist.
The basement workshop is where Philip spends his time these days, as he is building the cabinetry for a new kitchen. With a penchant for fine wine, Philip's wine cellar is conveniently right next to the workshop and these walls also exhibit his artwork. In the three-storey home, Philip's studio takes up grand space on the main floor, but the small painting shack at the cottage on Snake Rock, Otter Lake is his favorite painting place. Philip and Di spend their summers there while he creates work for his fall shows. The U.S. and U.K. markets are target goals, as long as he doesn't sell all his popular works beforehand.
What inspires you to paint? I either see something and it will tweak an idea which I have probably already been thinking about, or I have an idea and then go out and seek something to satisfy that. I have these abstract notions of what a painting should be, and then I find the subject matter. Basically, I paint anything and everywhere I am. I am always working and can't turn it off. It is not just the demand. It is my demands on it and I am never quite satisfied.
How did you and Di encourage your children to embrace the artistic spirit? If they showed a desire to get involved in something we would help facilitate. If they did something we would praise them for it. We let them be what they are. We let them do what they want to do. Their interests are broad and we follow that. We never encouraged our kids to be artists but we encouraged their likes.
How do you choose which works to showcase in your home? There is a constant rotation. We try to keep a permanent collection as I am supposed to be adding to a legacy of collected works. It's hard because a lot of my work sells quickly. Even though my background is in production, interior and set design, home decorating is not our main thing. Di is much better at it than I am. Since the kids are gone and it is just the two of us we have a little more time to fiddle things around.
How is Di your creative muse? We have a close relationship artistically and professionally and I need her around me in the creation of my paintings. We've worked together since our early teens and I bounce themes, ideas, plans and ambitions off her. I have moved my studio back into the house, which makes a huge difference for the ease of creativity.
What advice do you have for up and coming artists? Don't worry about the market or whether you are going to sell or be accepted into a gallery. That shouldn't be your guide to painting. Love painting and don't worry about the rest of it. If your work is marketable, it will happen on its own. An artist is a creator and interpreter. That is basically what I do. It is not an overly important role, but we need artists because they project what we want to do. Thank heavens there are people out there that like it. I'm an artist and I want to paint!
PHILIP'S FAVOURITE THINGS
Glebe hang out: Flipper's Restaurant
International gallery: Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Prized possession: Photos I have taken over the years
Work of art: Michelangelo's La Pietŗ
Romantic destination: Crillon-le-Brave, Provence
OPPOSITE: The second-storey sitting room is a respite from the bustling workspace found on the ground floor. THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE: A grand foyer creates a gallery-like space; a recently completed Philip Craig painting; the third floor provides ample room for storage of more of Philip's stunning artwork.