An exclusive interview with renowned Jamaican Artist Alphanso Blake, whose landscape paintings have been featured in numerous group exhibitions worldwide.
Interviews

People To watch: Jamaican Artist Alphanso Blake

Born in Jamaica, Alphanso originally started working in oils but has since moved on to acrylics – which he now uses exclusively. He lives and works in the hills of St. Andrew, from where he seems to get the inspiration for a lot of his stupendous landscapes.

Talent, dedication and perseverance aptly describe the virtue of Alphanso, who has had numerous group exhibitions and two very successful solo showings to his credit. His most recent overseas appearances have been in Charleston, South Carolina, New York, Barbados and the Jamaican Consul in Washington D.C.

His works are constantly shown at various galleries in Jamaica and Trinidad and have held places in many distinguished private collections, both in Jamaica and overseas, among these persons is popular American singer, Roberta Flack.

His name is renowned in Jamaica’s national JCDC Festival of Art Competition, where he has been presented with three Certificates of Merit, two in 1996 and the other in 1998. He attended the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts and at the Edith Dalton James High School, he was awarded “Most Outstanding Student” in Art for the year 1988-1989.
“Painting has taught me to be patient and to work carefully for what I want.” Alphanso says, “One of my greatest motivators is the challenge of attaining seemingly unreachable goals.” This approach he feels is largely due to his Christian beliefs.

Although clearly influenced by the works of Jamaican Art professionals such as Richard Hall, Barrington Watson and George Rodney, he thinks he has largely developed his artistic ideas by individual inspiration and God-given abilities.

His subject matter ranges from Landscapes, to Seascapes, Abstracts, Semi-Abstracts and Figure Studies.

Ultimately, Alphanso wishes to be an ambassador of Caribbean art worldwide.

Marcia: Hi Alphanso, we at Jamaicans.com are very impressed with what we’ve seen of your work.
Are you currently stationed in Jamaica?
Al: Yes I am.

Marcia: What do you hope people will see in your paintings?
Al: The culture and vibes of the Jamaican people as well as the beauty of God’s creation.

Marcia: How long have you been painting and how did you get started?
Al: I have been painting now for 14 years. My talent began to show from as early as basic school and was kept alive throughout secondary and all my life.

Marcia: When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
Al: I was a teenager of about 14 years old.

Marcia: As an artist, is a sketchbook important to you?
Al: In my early years this was so but now my canvas is my sketch pad.

Marcia: Tell us about yourself, your background/lifestyle?
Al: I am 31 years old, easy-going, jovial, nature-loving and adventurous. I enjoy people and positive environments. I am also a Christian. My family is a small one, three brothers and myself, with parents of humble beginnings who brought us up through hard work and discipline. I am married to a sweet wife (Janice), we have no children as yet.

Marcia: Is there any style of art that really makes you angry?
Al: I don’t appreciate art which makes you feel depressed. Art should make you feel alive!

Marcia: Was art your first love or do you have another passion?
Al: Yes, art was my first love and passion.

Marcia: Is there anything about the way you produce your work that you believe to be unique or unusual?
Al: Yes. My work is mostly done with a palette knife, lending to it a richness of texture making it come alive. I also like to use vibrant colours to captivate the mind.

Marcia: Which medium do you feel is the current spokesman of the arts?
Al: I work only in acrylic so I would say this medium.

Marcia: What would you like to be better at and why?
Al: Creativity. I want to be able to give more of this to my work making even greater pieces every day.

Marcia: Does the Internet allow you to show your work as you would like; how could it be improved to suit you?
Al: Yes it is an adequate medium. However, I would love to use it in even greater dimensions to increase my web presence. I also plan to upgrade my personal web page, www.discoverjamaica.com/biz/blake.

Marcia: Who do you feel has influenced art the most this century?
Al: Picasso. He was not afraid to break new frontiers in art even against traditional thoughts.

Marcia: What advice would you have for other artists just starting out?
Al: Keep at it. Make a profession of it and you will make it. Never give less than your best and always be open to change and new ideas.

Marcia: How solid is your customer base (repeat customers, loyalty, etc)?
Al: Stable.

Marcia: What are your plans for the future of your business?
Al: To market myself more internationally.

Marcia: What’s the hardest part of your business?
Al: Keeping consistent quality work in the market – as this is my standard. Another challenge is breaking into new markets.

Marcia: What’s the most fun part of your business?
Al: Painting (sometimes).

Marcia: If you could do it over, would you have chosen the arts?
Al: YES!

Marcia: What is your philosophy? Do you have a favourite quote?
Al: With God all things are possible

Marcia: What other artist(s) do you admire/get inspiration from?
Al: Too many to name as my influence changes from time to time but I like Jamaican artists from this century such as George Rodney, Alexander Cooper and an American artist named Fungcap.

Marcia: Much thanks for taking time out to chat with us here at Jamaicans.com. We wish you much success!
Al: Thank you. It was a pleasure sharing this time with you and feel free to contact me anytime. Keep on doing a great job at Jamaicans.com as Jamaicans are the best!

Marcia: Nuh true!

You may reach Alphanso Blake at: [email protected] and view some of his work at his website: http://www.discoverjamaica.com/biz/blake.

Born in Jamaica, Alphanso originally started working in oils but has since moved on to acrylics – which he now uses exclusively. He lives and works in the hills of St. Andrew, from where he seems to get the inspiration for a lot of his stupendous landscapes.

Talent, dedication and perseverance aptly describe the virtue of Alphanso, who has had numerous group exhibitions and two very successful solo showings to his credit. His most recent overseas appearances have been in Charleston, South Carolina, New York, Barbados and the Jamaican Consul in Washington D.C.

His works are constantly shown at various galleries in Jamaica and Trinidad and have held places in many distinguished private collections, both in Jamaica and overseas, among these persons is popular American singer, Roberta Flack.

His name is renowned in Jamaica’s national JCDC Festival of Art Competition, where he has been presented with three Certificates of Merit, two in 1996 and the other in 1998. He attended the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts and at the Edith Dalton James High School, he was awarded “Most Outstanding Student” in Art for the year 1988-1989.
“Painting has taught me to be patient and to work carefully for what I want.” Alphanso says, “One of my greatest motivators is the challenge of attaining seemingly unreachable goals.” This approach he feels is largely due to his Christian beliefs.

Although clearly influenced by the works of Jamaican Art professionals such as Richard Hall, Barrington Watson and George Rodney, he thinks he has largely developed his artistic ideas by individual inspiration and God-given abilities.

His subject matter ranges from Landscapes, to Seascapes, Abstracts, Semi-Abstracts and Figure Studies.

Ultimately, Alphanso wishes to be an ambassador of Caribbean art worldwide.

Marcia: Hi Alphanso, we at Jamaicans.com are very impressed with what we’ve seen of your work.
Are you currently stationed in Jamaica?
Al:Yes I am.

Marcia: What do you hope people will see in your paintings?
Al:The culture and vibes of the Jamaican people as well as the beauty of God’s creation.

Marcia:How long have you been painting and how did you get started?
Al:I have been painting now for 14 years. My talent began to show from as early as basic school and was kept alive throughout secondary and all my life.

Marcia:When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
Al:I was a teenager of about 14 years old.

Marcia: As an artist, is a sketchbook important to you?
Al: In my early years this was so but now my canvas is my sketch pad.

Marcia:Tell us about yourself, your background/lifestyle?
Al: I am 31 years old, easy-going, jovial, nature-loving and adventurous. I enjoy people and positive environments. I am also a Christian. My family is a small one, three brothers and myself, with parents of humble beginnings who brought us up through hard work and discipline. I am married to a sweet wife (Janice), we have no children as yet.

Marcia: Is there any style of art that really makes you angry?
Al:I don’t appreciate art which makes you feel depressed. Art should make you feel alive!

Marcia:Was art your first love or do you have another passion?
Al:Yes, art was my first love and passion.

Marcia:Is there anything about the way you produce your work that you believe to be unique or unusual?
Al:Yes. My work is mostly done with a palette knife, lending to it a richness of texture making it come alive. I also like to use vibrant colours to captivate the mind.

Marcia: Which medium do you feel is the current spokesman of the arts?
Al:I work only in acrylic so I would say this medium.

Marcia: What would you like to be better at and why?
Al:Creativity. I want to be able to give more of this to my work making even greater pieces every day.

Marcia:Does the Internet allow you to show your work as you would like; how could it be improved to suit you?
Al:Yes it is an adequate medium. However, I would love to use it in even greater dimensions to increase my web presence. I also plan to upgrade my personal web page, www.discoverjamaica.com/biz/blake.

Marcia:Who do you feel has influenced art the most this century?
Al:Picasso. He was not afraid to break new frontiers in art even against traditional thoughts.

Marcia:What advice would you have for other artists just starting out?
Al:Keep at it. Make a profession of it and you will make it. Never give less than your best and always be open to change and new ideas.

Marcia:How solid is your customer base (repeat customers, loyalty, etc)?
Al:Stable.

Marcia: What are your plans for the future of your business?
Al:To market myself more internationally.

Marcia:What’s the hardest part of your business?
Al:Keeping consistent quality work in the market – as this is my standard. Another challenge is breaking into new markets.

Marcia:What’s the most fun part of your business?
Al:Painting (sometimes).

Marcia:If you could do it over, would you have chosen the arts?
Al: YES!

Marcia:What is your philosophy? Do you have a favourite quote?
Al: With God all things are possible

Marcia: What other artist(s) do you admire/get inspiration from?
Al: Too many to name as my influence changes from time to time but I like Jamaican artists from this century such as George Rodney, Alexander Cooper and an American artist named Fungcap.

Marcia: Much thanks for taking time out to chat with us here at Jamaicans.com. We wish you much success!
Al:Thank you. It was a pleasure sharing this time with you and feel free to contact me anytime. Keep on doing a great job at Jamaicans.com as Jamaicans are the best!

Marcia:Nuh true!

You may reach Alphanso Blake at: [email protected] and view some of his work at his website: http://www.discoverjamaica.com/biz/blake.

About the author

Marcia "Ackeegiel" Davidson