Self Portrait

Like the graphic visualisations of a war correspondent, images drawn by Barker's hand capture in a frozen frame sights which exist on the fringes of imagination and report them back to an unsuspecting public tucked up safely in their own comfortable beds. Recurring themes of sexuality, masks and monsters allow insights into the written word - artwork, writing, directing : all part of one continuum that is "imagination".

"I think in a sense, seeing Frank reborn through the floorboards in 'Hellraiser' works better as an image than on paper. And if I was to make a judgement about why I make movies as well as make books, I would say that there are some things that are almost impossible to make solid. In some ways my artwork is suggestive or evocative, rather than particular."

Clive Barker in the Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

"Drawing is as natural to me as falling off a log. It's something I've always done, as much for my own satisfaction as anybody else's. But actually more for my own satisfaction...
"Painting is a subconscious exploration; it's letting things happen without my intellect intervening, much. It's therapeutic and I thoroughly enjoy it, particularly after writing all day because writing is a fairly static activity. Painting, on the other hand, is very physical, especially if I'm doing a large oil where I'm walking around a lot and getting covered in paint. It's like I almost want to wrestle with it. It's very gratifying and very pleasurable."

Surrealist Artist

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 3, April 1995

"When I came out [of university] I went down to London and started a theatre company afresh. I also illustrated a couple of centrefolds for some S&M magazines that later got arrested by Scotland Yard for their content - I'm very proud of that. This was in the mid-70's and they were really something - Scotland Yard thought so too! What was interesting was they arrested my originals as well: they took them away and burnt them, which I always thought was the ultimate compliment. It was real confirmation that the stuff worked and they needed to burn it."

Transcript of talk at UCLA 25 February 1987

Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"I don't like to make a distinction between the writer and the painter, finally, because I do both things anyway. Everybody's dreaming and trying to put down their dreams in the way that their hand knows best."

Clive Barker: Renaissance Hellraiser

Barker at 1986 World Fantasy Convention, by Leanne C. Harper, The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 1987

[re. visual creation of characters] "I think that it adds life to the creatures you invent. The creative writing process begins with drawing, with the development of image. I did this for my screenplays as well. All of the Hellraiser and Nightbreed creatures were created this way. It is the way I set everything down."

The Clive Barker Interview

By Mike Lackey, Marvel Age, No 107, December 1991

"I paint five nights a week and wouldn't think of giving it up."

Clive Barker

By Timothy Nasson, In Step Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 14, 25 July - 6 August 1996

"Schiller will say that all art aspires to the condition of music, from which I take the idea that music is the thing that builds most cleanly and clearly to your heart. And if the business of art is - at least in some measure - to move another human being with something which you've created, clearly music does that better than anything else. But one of the wonderful things about painting for me is that it is a very un-intellectual process. Writing - particularly the large books that I write - is a ritual, filled with elaborate, intellectual processes, and structuring a book is a big puzzle. Painting is not a puzzle. Painting is red and yellow. Painting is filling the brush with something that looks so tasty you feel like you could feed off it for a thousand years, then slapping it on the canvas and feeling an immediate emotional rush from it."

The BookEnds Interview

By Jason Wallace,, October 1999 (note : full text online at The Book Pl@ce site - see links)

"I did this thing for the Sci-Fi Channel called 'Masters of Fantasy' two weekends ago, whatever, and someone called up to order paintings that they had seen in my studio, in the TV Show. It was a first. It was like something from QVC, you know. So, someone called up and said: 'I want the painting in the background with the cats'. Painting is very important to me. And it's a completely non-intellectual activity, unlike writing, which is very much involved, it's very much about analysis. And, yes, it is about emotion as well. But it is also about structure and style... painting is about unleashing. Painting to me is: paint and a lot of cheap cigars and a lot of loud music. And that's what is is. And it's always been that. And it's immensely satisfying because it's so different from the other endeavour."


By Amber Black and Tim Trautmann, Review(?), 1996

"I love seeing my artwork inscribed in people's flesh. Last night in Boston a number of people came to the book signing with illustrations of mine permanently inscribed on their bodies. It really is an extraordinary (and often very sexy) experience seeing images that you put on paper now moving on people's skin."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996

"When they did those covers [Books of Blood - English edition], they pulled images from within the original pictures and cropped them very, very severely so that they could fit them onto the cover. Less than half of the entire pictures are shown. I like the covers much better when all the detail is there. When they're cropped like that you miss the sense of the whole. That's a problem with the book covers. We're setting up limited edition lithos of them. There's been some problem getting the colours right. We're fiddling around with them, making sure that we do get it right. I think they'll be nice editions. I want to do them really beautifully."

Weird Tales talks with Clive Barker

By Robert Morris, Weird Tales, No 292, Fall 1988

"To the extent that any creature on this planet can expect comfort, am I comforted by my paintings? Yes, I think I am. I think I'm comforted by being able to go to a place which is inside of me. This is true of the writing and the painting. Movie making, I find is much more about impressing your ego on other people. To me, that's not a very attractive thing to do. I don't particulary like that process much. There's always tension in movie making. The good thing about painting is, 'what's the greatest tension going to be? - Oh, I dropped my cigar in my tea!' In writing, I sit in my library surrounded by thousands of books, my music and my light, and I'm watching the moon come up. It's a much more peaceful life than making movies. Truth is, I like that, particularly as I get older."


By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen],Lost Souls, Issue 6, January 1997

"I have just created 250 oil paintings for the Abarat Quartet, which will be going into the Disney vaults until the movie of my books has come out, at which point we will be organizing a massive tour of the paintings all around America so that people can get to see these large works (the largest picture is 13' x 9'!) and enjoy the spectacle of oil paint at close quarters. Then when the exhibitions are over,we will have an online auction, so that everybody worldwide can have a chance to buy something. Please understand that not all the work on sale will be large oil paintings. Some will be small drawings and sketches which will be available for a few hundred dollars. The oils... well, we'll see!"

Horror In Books And Movies: Clive Barker

By [ ], USA Today Online Chat, The Nation Talks : Live, 31 October 2000

"I know paintings are in one sense just objects, but I do like to think that they have gone to a good home. I know that the people that bought the pictures are the people that are genuinely appreciative of them and having them hanging on their wall."


By Stephen Dressler, Lost Souls, Issue 12, January 1999

"One of the modernist positions in painting is painting isn't about storytelling. It's really only about expressing the moment. So many modernist painters would defend what I think are incoherent scribblings with the point of view that 'well that's what I thought of at the moment'. I'm not totally interested in expressing what I felt at that moment, I'm interested in moving a viewer to become engaged with the drama of the image. So in a sense I suppose that I'm telling a story on the canvas. I don't know how familiar you are with the paintings but many of them, I wouldn't say tell a complete story. My paintings seem to be fragments of narrative. I'm doing a book right now for Harper Collins which won't come out for another year and a half called The Book of Hours which is a book of stories created around a series of paintings which I've made. Huge paintings."

Explorer From The Far Reaches Of Experience

By Kim August, Pharr Out! 1998

"If I had a choice between getting up in the morning and painting or making a movies I would definitely choose painting pictures. The great thing about painting is that nobody fucks with you! You go paint your picture. You want to write your book: you go write your book. I've never been predisposed to being one of those guys who enjoys arguing. It's no great pleasure, the idea of getting up in the morning and yelling and shouting. If it can't be done in a civilized way, then I prefer not to do it"

Clive Barker : A Renaissance Man Of Gothic Proportions

By Gil Kaan, Genre, Issue No 86, October 2000

[Re: 'Five O'Clock In The Morning' - Abarat] "Here are the first mountains. They were probably blue and green, because I put all this [darkness] on top of them. Obviously this was once a much brighter piece; I was looking for a more optimistic thing than it ended up being. So the layers and the levels are all there, inside the painting. I find that interesting, because the method of scraping and scratching and gouging that I use is constantly revealing the levels which I thought were failures, but turn out to be a neccessary part of the solution - so that if you scratch the yellow away, you'll pull out the purple, the blue - and there's something about the handmadeness of it. There's something about the way the thing can only be made, in a way, through a series of failures.
"Whatever the process is, it's just so painless. Even when it doesn't work - and you leave it or you throw it away, trash it - usually you take something from it that you can build on. Part of it is because the business of making a painting has something of a pleasure element, which isn't there for me in writing. And I'll go back and I'll tussle with it again and again, and eventually I'll crack it. There are pictures here which took me years... in paintings, there's a lot of things where I think: 'Well, I haven't cracked it yet, but I'll come back to that. I'll make it work.' "

Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic

By Douglas E. Winter, 2001

"Normally, when I'm painting I feel like it's just flowing through me; I'm a conduit for it, from some other place or... yeah, I'm channelling it, if you will. I would like to take some credit, but I think in a way the credit is for getting out of my own way. One of the things I've learned as a painter is not to be forever judging myself. What liberated me into painting was just letting go, just not worrying too much about, 'Well, was that a perfect line? Is that a perfect stroke?' Everything is imperfect, gloriously imperfect and imperfection is part of what gives it its energy."

Clive Barker's Abarat: The Artist's Passion

By Dan Halperin, (i) Fangoria Blood Drive, June 2004, (ii) (edited) Abarat 2 promotional CD ROM sampler, Joanna Cotler Books, June 2004

"I feel that the [Abarat] paintings are a new excitement in my life which I want to share and they've certainly given me, somewhere in the middle of my creative life, a new boost of energy and excitement. I mean, the terrible danger is if you go to your desk every day, as I do, and plug away at whatever you're writing - whether it's a script, or a novel or a short story - that slowly you lose the youthful enthusiasm that brought you to the page in the first place. And the way I've tried to keep that condition at bay is by constantly changing the rules, as it were, my own rules of what I'm doing, and for me the idea of writing stories that were inspired by pictures that I've made was a really interesting way to just gear up to a new kind of imagining. And I think the response to the paintings has been great; there's no question people have had great fun with them and I think there'll be more fun to be had as the narrative becomes grander and richer, and in the third book darker. It's been a really pleasurable thing for me to do and I think it's been fun for people to watch - now it's a question of getting the pictures in front of them, not just reproductions of the pictures but actually the pictures themselves. Because, as you know, there's an energy that a reproduction has, but it's only a tiny part of what you feel when you're actually in front of them...
"There's a limit to how big you can make any reproduction - even with the Rizzoli art book, where the pictures will be much bigger, but they'll still only be the size of a coffee-table book and I want people to see the pictures, and not just in exhibition form. I think we're going to find ways, eventually, to put these pictures online in a way that you'll be able to explore or scan the pictures very closely, and if you want to get in and really look at the texture of a particular part of it, you'll be able to. I don't know how we're going to do that but I'm determined that we do - that eventually we have a very extensive and thorough library of pictures that you can go to and look at, almost in an abstracted way, you know, get in on the detail. Because when you were at the house and we were looking at the pictures, I remember drawing your attention to the abstract corners and saying it's cool to get in and look at the way the paint is layered one colour on top of another - that stuff you just lose in the reproduction...
"One of the things I have to do - and we've started to do it - is I've started to put a camera up as I paint so that we've got some record of how a canvas transforms - and transforms and transforms! And I'm going to do something that I've avoided doing so far; I'm going to be taking photographs of the failures - you know the pictures I trash - because I think it'll be kind of interesting to see, for people to see maybe ten pictures that I've destroyed. Just because it's interesting to debate why I feel they don't work. It's all very nice and all very fancy to put up the pictures that do work, but once people have established an interest in the work, I think I can maybe also show them failures and that'll be interesting to people too."

In Anticipation Of The Deluge: A Moment At The River's Edge

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 1 and 12 July 2004 (note - full text here)

"Oil painting was something I'd never tried until I began these works. It's a messy business. I built a studio next door, and in there I could make as much of a mess as I liked, and it didn't matter. There was nobody hollering at me, 'Don't you dare leave that mess here!' I am a sort of slob, and that slobdom is my natural place on the evolutionary scale. So, given the chance, I will eventually ease down into the place where all the teacups have grown fur and there is a smell of stale cigar smoke, but who cares? I'm happy. I came to painting at the age of 43, which is not a bad time to pick up a new discipline, because at that age you're beginning to run out of the joys of the old disciplines; the things you've been having a good run with don't seem quite so interesting anymore...
"Starting with the backgrounds would be the right way to do it, but that would then portend that you know what the background is going to be... and I don't. So inevitably, I start with the foreground, which then means you see this going on all the time; me coloring in after the act. If I had put all that on first, then it would have been a nice, even purple all the way across. The fact is, I didn't know what was going to go on the canvas so it wasn't until everything was in place and dry that I could bring these other colors into play. I've come to like it actually. The color has a certain urgency when it's moved around that way. It's having a conversation with the outline of the figure. In that sense, it's sort of interesting."

Visions In Paint And Celluloid

By Carnell, Fangoria, No.247, October 2005

"The Abarat material is almost all, or overwhelmingly, ninety-eight percent of it, is oil on canvas and I had, I got really, really tired, actually about this time two years ago and I got really into just a thoroughly exhausted state, and I could not face another huge canvas; it was just overwhelming to me and I decided to make a bunch of pictures on paper, using acrylic and then oil pastel and they were smaller, therefore easier to do, less challenging, physically, and the ones that appear in Abarat that are made that way are the ones that are in the exhibition, plus two triptychs which we didn't have room for. One of them - and they're not shown as triptychs in the book, obviously - but one is the forest at Twilight at Seven O'Clock where Candy finds the palace - you know? There's a long picture which is in fact a triptych on three pieces of paper, and that was done with acrylic and then oil pastel and because it was done that way it just was less demanding, physically, than painting three 48 x 60 canvasses. And then the other one which is also a triptych is the one of the water, of the sea, pouring into the city of Chickentown, or into Chickentown, which I painted in one night with just acrylic, it has no pastel on it. You know, throwing, throwing acrylic at the canvas, paint-loaded brushes at the canvas to get that spray of water... to get the movement, exactly. So, the other ones in the same mixture of media on paper are the ones that I put into the exhibition.
"I think there are times in my life, and it's obviously going to be true as I get older and I'm less mobile, there are times when I come off a big painting when I'm just wiped, man - when I painted The Beautiful Moment - I was like, I didn't paint for two weeks after that! I had to go and like, OK - just do something passive, physically passive, like writing, not intellectually passive - but you know you're sitting at your desk. And some of the paintings also, the 60 x 48 paintings that have, that may be relatively small by comparison with The Beautiful Moment but are still demanding because there's been a lot of scratching and impasto and you're loading your brush with paint, it's a battle with the canvas and you're in a state of - you know you sweat... I soak my shirt; I've got a collection of T-shirts down there so I can change T-shirts after they get too sweaty. But there is a physical demand to painting, particularly to oil painting, and particularly big oil painting that you have to be ready for; you're moving around, you've seen my studio, I've usually got five paintings on the go at the same time - right now I have six on the go at the same time!"

Heaven, Hell And The Dreaming Space Between

By Phil and Sarah Stokes,5 December 2005 (note: full text here)

...other comments

Alan Plent, art teacher: "Clive had a storybook art. Even by the third year he was drawing and creating quite dramatic, exciting and - fairly strange for his age - quite sexually orientated cartoons, which were all bizarre, which was Clive's prime word at that age. He was in all things quite bizarre. Dinosaurs and monsters played a large part in his thinking and drawing even then!
"I'd always thought that his work wasn't original, but it was an original way of looking at traditional comics. I honestly thought he would have earned a good living had he been given the scope of art training. But Clive, by the luck of the gods, was very fortunate because he was a wordsmith and an artist...
"His art always invited a story from it. You never looked at it and said, 'Oh, well there's a lovely landscape,' you were inclined to say, 'What's going on in there?' and you would look for the next one."

Brush Strokes in Blood

By [ ] , Pandemonium, edited Michael Brown, 1991

Bess Cutler: "His several drawings reveal a surprisingly broad range of mark-making, and while many display the artist's known flourishing brushwork, many others startle with the degree of angry jabbing of the artist's pen. And as the general import of the drawings, given Clive's novelistic and filmic background, is his excursions into the horrific, I suppose what was most pleasantly surprising to me is the extent to which Clive's work fits the surrealistic movement of the 20th century.
"The paintings, of course, are an even grander experience - certainly to be surprising to Clive's many viewers and readers. His illusionistic, crowded spaces on the canvas are filled with figures and shapes radiating unnatural light and colour. All striking, to say the least - some literal and some expressionistic pushed to embody in their wet, rich, oil paint the extraordinary world that embodies and inhabits the imagination of one Clive Barker.
"If Clive is a born mark-maker, he is no less a born painter of oil on canvas."

Clive Barker 1973 - 1993

Interview - Bess Cutler by Michael Brown(?), Dread, No.9, January 1993

Keith Seward: "Clive Barker has a wandering eye. While most artists doggedly pursue their medium of choice into the deepest recesses of tunnel vision, Barker has a vision - often a horrible one - that he injects into whatever medium his sights are set on, like a glass eye that he pops out of his head and plugs into a movie camera or a writing machine. Oftentimes this glass eye gets plugged into another machine as well, a sort of art machine that has produced scores of paintings and drawings over the course of some twenty years. Or would it be more precise to say that, when Barker paints, he becomes an art machine, puts the glass eye back into his head and uses his very own hands to transcribe the visions it transmits to him? Either way, the vision migrates from the glass eye to the canvas or paper...
"There are nothing but monsters, anywhere. Horror is simply what you feel when you see someone (or something) more monstrous than yourself. By consequence, if Clive Barker is a master of horror, it is because his glass eye wanders out to the furthest limits of the human and spies on the monsters that live out there. As his stories are their history, so is his art their collective portrait."

Clive Barker's Eye

By Keith Seward, Clive Barker: Paintings & Drawings 1973 - 1993, Bess Cutler Gallery, 19th March - 24th April 1993

Jeff Zaleski: "...everywhere we look, are the Abarat paintings. There's one depicting an elfin creature with google eyes, scoop-shaped ears and little heads sprouting from his thick antlers. There are beings angelic and demonic, plant people and a redhaired goddess and a wise-looking cat with a cavern in its torso. A clownlike figure, electricity crackling around his body, grins savagely. An old man, perhaps an old salt, perhaps a seer, pushes his hands into his coat pockets and looks at us.
"It's as if another, more wondrous world has penetrated into ours, emerging from every available inch of Barker's wall space, a world of intense colors, yellows, purples, oranges, inhabited by creatures charming, dangerous, awesome, always surprising. In an alien woods backdropped by golden clouds embedded with stars, a young girl in pigtails gathers stalks, each a thin reed topped by the head of a bird. Elsewhere, a man with hair of flames and sewn lips glowers, and a great stone island in the shape of a head thrusts upward from a dark sea.
"Seeing these paintings makes you feel like Dorothy when she opened the door of her Kansas farmhouse to behold the Technicolor Land of Oz."

The Relaunch of Clive Barker

By Jeff Zaleski, Publishers Weekly, 24 September 2001

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