PHILIP PATKE: An Honest Approach
by Jonny Boys
The first time I met Philip Patke was at one of our Emerge Underground shows. I was really struck by his work which holds a paradoxical simple complexity. I asked him how long he had been painting and he replied, “About six months, I gave up drinking so I had to do something with my time.” The other think that struck me is that he is a mechanical engineer that is working with Triad Speakers doing product development.
He earned his degree from the University of Texas-Arlington and has worked professionally as a mechanical engineer for six years. Patke's love of art started when he was about seven or eight years old. His first biography that he did was on Marc Chagall, although he said looking back he has no idea why that was his favorite painter. He painted and did water colors but, in high school he got into ceramics, and left painting behind. His involvement in sports and interest in girls moved him away from art. He did take art classes in college, just to raise his grade point average, looking for an advantage in his degree.
"It really wasn't until I moved up here and it's been about a year", he said. He started doing the grid pattern out of fear, he figured that it would give him the excuse for it to suck but still good enough that he could go back and change it if he felt he needed to. His first piece the shading was all different, some squares had more detail some less, it depended on the day that he was painting and what he felt like. His second piece was really washed out and then the next was sort of a mix of both.
He said he's really starting to find a method of smashing the paint into the wood and including more of a sketchy feel to the panels. It is constantly changing and he's pretty comfortable with it.
"I kind of go back and forth on how much I really like them", he said in reference to one of the pieces he painted of a female model. His biggest issue right now is finding the inspiration for an original image. He has a model and a photographer friend who shot images of the model, but he really wants to manipulate them digitally before he uses them as references.
Patke has clients lined up waiting for commissioned pieces but he has been so overwhelmed with his day job that he's been holding back from painting as much. His is also beginning to toy with the idea of moving into designing and building custom concrete furniture, such as coffee tables. He is currently trying to engineer a two foot by three foot table top that is only 3/8” thick that fully supports its own weight.
When he first came to Portland he was living in a house with three roommates and he was delivering pizzas to make ends meet. One day he went to an opening at one of the Everett Street Lofts and he brought some pieces to show. The building manager happened to be there and asked him if he would like to see one of the available space. Patke played along and went through the unit with him and once he realized how affordable it was he ended up signing a lease to live there. So that really began his career showing art in Portland. He has had very good success getting into shows for the most part in Portland but he really doesn't want to push his work at the gallery level until he begins working with original subject matter.
You can connect with him to find out more about his current projects on his Facebook page.