My Favourite Interview – Hampstead Artist Matt Phillips

This one’s the result of a happy accident. I (David) was doing my Hampstead Walk a couple of Sunday mornings ago and up ahead an artist had set up his easel and was “rapt” (Shakespeare’s word). He was in what I later discovered he calls “the zone” – the act of creation. The painting was (is) very beautiful. And, look, myself and my two walkers were a bit forward. We got to him and stood back away and watched him work. And then we were even more forward: we spoke to him. I was aware that maybe just then we were “three persons from Porlock” (it’s a Coleridge reference, I mention it in the interview) but the scene – the street, his painting, himself – it was so delightful we frankly couldn’t resist. Well, lucky us. He turned out to be a wonderfully generous guy – as well as a superb artist. His name is Matthew Phillips. A dual national (like me, American and British), he lives in Hampstead. I ended up asking him if he’d let me interview him. The answer was a very generous, “yes.” This podcast is the fruit of that moment and the interview it gave rise to.

I loved every minute of the interview, learned all kinds of fascinating things about light and “wet on wet” painting and practical aspects of the “craft” and getting “narrative” into buildings and judging colour and what goes into a commissioned work, etc. etc.

You can find out more about Matt and see some of his work by clicking here, bringing up his website:

And he regularly exhibits at various galleries, including his home gallery, Hampstead’s Aeon Gallery.



“when you’re planning a painting part of the thing is to be flexible with the environment”

“you have to contend with a myriad of changing factors”

“the changing light is a big factor”

“Van Gogh painted it top to bottom”

“I tend to decide what the direction of light is”

“you can get too dogmatic”

“it gives you a fresh communication with the subject”

“the hardest thing is more the time of day”

“paint the bits that I know will be in shadow”

“a building down in central London I’d love to do a painting of”

“I”m not terribly interested in buildings themselves”

“I try to infuse narrative into them”

“drama into the bricks and mortar”

“it has to have an emotional human narrative content to it as well as being an interesting building in terms of its fabric”

“it also about the clarity of light”

“the quality of light there is crystal clear”

“it is a diffused light”

“I began to fall back in love with London”

“it was then that I started turning my eye to London in a way that I hadn’t done before”

“it gives things a more muted hue that I really appreciate now”

“I’m with Turner on that”

“light could be the main focus of one’s work”

“that was actually a commission for someone”

“the human factor is what’s so interesting to me”

“more importantly trying to capture the soul of the person”

“it has to come from an internal place”

“how vibrant the colours are that I’m using”

“I mostly use oils…I like to paint wet into wet”

“you get a tide mark with oil”

“there are real benefits to painting outdoors”

“I sculpt as well…do some welding”

“I have my backpack with my paints, my palette”

“need to keep direct sun off the surface of the canvas because it really alters one’s judgment of colour”

“better to paint in shade”

“I don’t mind a bit of debris in a painting”

“where do you go to the toilet, can you abandon your station?”

“every single thing is a micro decision”

“you’re keeping a piece of work within a bracket of light and time of day”

“time and space kind of drifts away”

“the wonderful coastlines of western Scotland”

“an impression of them at that moment that they’re sitting with you and trying to capture how they’re feeling”



2 responses to “My Favourite Interview – Hampstead Artist Matt Phillips”

  1. Terri Ward says:

    So enjoyed this interview. Matt is my cousin and I am always amazed at his talent and perceptions as I view and appreciate his art. It was also wonderful to hear his voice speaking about his inspirations. Thank you.

  2. David Tucker says:

    Many thanks, Terri. Matt is a great guy and the most wonderful artist. So glad we bumped into him that day.

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