Artist Profile - Philip Farley

Philip Farley is very meticulous. Stroke by stroke, detail by detail, his brush breaths life into our wildlife, our landscapes and our people.

This is a down to earth man who really sees the world, and then shares his vision with us through his art’s almost photographic accuracy. Australian Born in 1960, Philip grew up by the sea in Brisbane’s bay side area. From an early age he was happiest when exploring creeks, mountains and shorelines, observing wildlife, and drawing or painting. Philip remembers that he could always draw well and accurately compared to other children, even as a young boy at school. His parents recognized and fostered his talent for art, and at the age of 12, they organized private tuition in watercolour. Philip went on to experiment with new media and to develop his colour sense and technique at the Queensland College of Art.

Facing an artist’s typical career choice on graduation (compromise or starve), Philip accepted a job as a commercial illustrator with an advertising agency.

After seven years of producing disposable art, the desire to be artistically independent, to create treasures that could be “handed down from generation to generation” became irresistible. In 1989 Philip made the liberating leap to fulltime fine artist. During this time Philip’s love for nature and the outdoors grew. Many weekends and holidays were spent bushwalking amongst the surrounding mountain ranges of Brisbane. Combine these interests with travel and he was soon cross-country skiing in the Australian Alps, bushwalking across the Tasmanian Highlands, then tramping and mountain climbing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Other cultures were then experienced when backpacking with a missionary friend through some very remote parts of Papua New Guinea. Philip enjoyed mountainous areas but he yearned to see the mightiest of them all, Mt Everest. So along with his friend Carrol, Philip found himself in Nepal undertaking an arduous trek to Everest Base Camp. China became another destination where Philip and Carrol were drawn to, they spent six weeks backpacking around a country whose provinces had not long been opened to western tourists. Through all these travels Philip was armed with his camera and sketch book, “simply being part of nature, you just have to be inspired by it”.

So, together with these experiences and with a passion for wild areas and its wildlife, it was inevitable that a lot of Philip’s artwork would fall into the category of Wildlife Art. He became a member of the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia. At their annual exhibition, Philip received awards in three consecutive years for “Best Bird Painting”, “The Sam Slater Award” for the best young artist, and “Best Watercolour”. In addition, Philip has three times been voted “Most Popular Artist” at the annual exhibition of the Queensland Wildlife Artist Society. He was delighted to be named first runner-up in the $75,000 James Hardie Wildlife Art Prize in 1991. Another highlight was at the Annual Queensland Sunday Mail Art Show, where out of over 700 paintings, Philip’s piece “Country Trio” was voted by the public as the most popular painting.

Philip and Carrol now a married couple, moved and restored an old Queenslander timber house for their first home, this started his continuing love and use of these grand old homes as major subjects for many of his paintings.

Philip’s detail and accuracy in his images made them ideal for Limited Edition Prints. So the first of his artworks was released as prints in 1990 and were very successful. Since then he has released over 40 exceptionally fine Limited Edition Prints, almost half of which have sold out. Philip has also created a publishing company, known as Farley Art Editions. As only a few people can enjoy a Farley original in their lounge room, the release of his prints has made his artwork affordable and collectable.

One of the many highlights of his career was when he was commissioned to do a portrait of Peter Brock. From this a Limited Edition Print was produced which was co-signed by both Peter and Philip. With Peter’s popularity and Philip’s reputation it was an immediate sell out.

Now with three children, two boys and a girl, the family has moved to their own five acre nature sanctuary. The children enjoy spotlighting for koalas and wallabies at night, and hand feeding the possums. Philip’ s bird count of different species seen on or from the property is nearing 100. So, with his studio surrounded by bushland and waterways he doesn’t have to travel far for inspiration.

Yet he continues to challenge himself, developing and honing his style, technique and use of colour and light. More recently he has relished in the challenge of pushing the limits of his portrait skills, accurately capturing the likeness of his many satisfied customers.

Why do art collectors prize Philip Farley originals and prints? The magic – and the passion – is in the detail.