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Interview With Artist Phil Kent
by Karen Adler, Dip Transpersonal Art Therapy
ATH Asst. Editor of Arts & Art Therapy



This sketch portrait won me a prize - very thin paint  applied quickly. The highlights are unpainted areas.

Phil Kent is my new landlord here in beautiful Killcare, on the Central Coast of NSW in Australia. Phil was a builder before he retired and leaving the building trade has enabled him to spend more time on his painting. Like most people I know who are involved in art, Phil doesn’t fit the stereotype of the mad artist. He’s someone who knows that, as with most things in life, it’s a matter of practicing your craft, working at it until, little by little, you start to see progress.

The older I get, the more interested I become in how people age well. That, plus my interest in the role that art plays in people’s lives, lead me to ask Phil a few questions about his development as an artist and how art has changed the way in which he sees the world. A few sentences and some very fine paintings give a comprehensive picture of Phil Kent, the artist.

1. How has art enabled you to see the world differently?

I think it’s interesting that as you develop your art, the more you do, the more your own style emerges so that painting becomes your own interpretation of the world. So art enables you to express your individuality, your own unique way of seeing the world. I’ve also come to see that painting stops you being so dogmatic about your own ideas, it makes you realise there are many different ways of viewing things.

2. How does making art/painting contribute to your sense of wellbeing?

I often find that when I paint I become totally absorbed and completely forget everything else. I think the process of creating can clear the mind of other issues. It’s always a nice feeling to look at a painting and to think that I have learned something new. The more we look the more we see and this can carry over into our personal lives.

3. How does doing art make you think differently about life, the world?

I think that Art is a very personal pursuit and the creative effort can give you a lot of personal satisfaction. Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle as each work is an exciting new journey. Often a lot is learnt from the mistakes and failures.


I also won a prize with this painting. Very sketchy....almost drawing with paint...with a lot of the natural colour of the board showing through....it was an object lesson in stopping at the right time and not overworking the painting. I got a lot of favourable comments for this work. Because it evolved very quickly I think I tended to down play it but in retrospect it is a bit of a culmination of my experience to date.



This was painted plein air and I was awarded a " highly commended" in Ryde Art Show. Paintings always seem to work better for me if I keep it loose and free and don't overwork it.


This was also painted plein air and I got a lot of personal satisfaction as I let myself go with color and painted what felt right for the subject. The ship was old and rusty and seemed to have its own personality. I think I learnt a lot by just giving myself over to the subject and letting things happen. It also won a prize and is a bit of a watershed painting for me. I think it is very easy to get bogged down with a painting and then you get frustrated and annoyed. Better to start again sometimes.



Another quick portrait done as a demonstration at Drummoyne Art Society. Failure is always a short step away in this type of situation but the sitter was very happy with the result which was encouraging. It was painted under great difficulty - poor lighting and the model was roped in at the last minute. In hindsight  I think that working under a bit of pressure may have helped as I had to get straight down to the nitty gritty.




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About the Author

Phil Kent was a builder before he retired and leaving the building trade has enabled him to spend more time on his painting. Phil liked to draw from a young age and took art as a subject at high school. He started painting in oils in his early 20’s and then went to classes to improve his knowledge and skills. He sees himself as having been fortunate in having had some good teachers over the years.


About the Interviewer

Karen Adler, ATH Asst. Editor of Arts & Art Therapy, is a Transpersonal Art Therapist, an artist, writer and researcher. She is a firm believer in the inherent healing qualities of the Arts. She has run art therapy workshops for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, self-harming behaviour, eating disorders, for post-flood and cyclone trauma and for people seeking to bring about positive change in their lives. Karen also uses Art Therapy to help in the resolution of her own life difficulties and is continually surprised by the insight it brings. 
Contact Karen at karenadler222@gmail.com or karenadler@allthingshealing.com.



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