PHILIP SUGDEN: Portrait of the professor


     The soft whispering of air stirs throughout the majestic Himalayan skies as the anointed Angel slows to make her descent.  “Consecration” is a presentation of art on a different plane of reality.

     “In many of my drawings, the images themselves have become only focal points in a process that has less to do with the subject than with the creative experience.  The creative process is a journey of self-discovery,” said Professor Philip Sugden.

     Drawn with sepia ink on handmade Himalayan Daphne paper, Sugden wrestled with different forms for several years before choosing a model and the correct pose for this work of art.  An ornithologist also supplied real wings for him to work with, creating a mystical authenticity.

     Philip Sugden, born in Swanage, England, graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York School of Visual Arts, New York City, 1977.  He went on to study under the guardianship of Arnaud D’Hauterives, President of the French Society of Artists and curator for the Muse Marmottan, completing this course of study in Paris, France, 1981.

     Supporting over 75 national and international lectures on art and Tibetan culture at universities and museums, Sugden is a connoisseur of Tibet and the Himalayas, taking eleven working journeys to this region as a professional artist.

     “As it happens, the subject matter, specifically, and the geography of Tibet and the Himalayas in general, are very conducive to having creative and spiritual experiences.  This can happen while working in the studio but, unlike the studio, the direct experience of Tibet awakens one’s senses usually dulled by comfort and convenience,” he said.

“Archetype 2” oil on canvas, 8 ’ x 4 ’

     “Archetype 2” depicted is Sugden’s artistic rendition of a regal monastery he drew on location in Western Tibet in 2003. The angry dark skies try to overpower the sacred shine while docile shrouded inhabitants appear to suffer in the turmoil. “I purposely let changes happen without too much questioning until the entire painting was finished,” he said. Also, he found this six-month painting process to be very therapeutic.

     Over 80 group and juried exhibits and 65 solo exhibits have grazed significant space in such arenas as the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Royal Victoria Museum, Melbourne, Australia, Grand Palais, Paris, France, to name a few.  Various international private and corporate collections include Marathon Oil Company Executive Offices, Findlay, Ohio, Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government Collection, India, Westpac Corporation Executive Offices, New York City, Global Chinese Art Institute, Amsterdam.

"Shift" oil three canvases, 6’ 6” x 5’ 6”. This artwork “depicts the Archetype of the Circle, a sign of universal awareness. It is a discovery of the moment and the interconnection in that moment." The side panels are the Tibetan Wheel of Life and the Mandala of Shambhala, or perfected state of mind.

     Philip Sugden has been the Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and Tibetan Culture at the University of Findlay, in Ohio since 1986 where he shares his remarkable knowledge and passion for an ancient culture and the benefits to finding one’s humble self.

     Local awards have been bestowed, as well, from such organizations as Toledo Museum of Fine Arts 72nd Juried Exhibition, 1990, Wassenburg Art Center Award: Wassenburg Art Association 45th Annual Juried Exhibition, 2001, Findlay Art League: Best of Show and First Place awards in many of their juried exhibitions since 1980, and Lima ArtSpace Gallery Best of Show, 2001 Juried Exhibition.   

"Oracle" oil on canvas, 12” x 14” This small shell is an archetype form that pertains to the movement through life. The landscape is about the collective unconscious.”

    “In the Himalayan and on the Tibetan Plateau one is confronted, in a profound way, with the enigmatic nature of being alive.  This mystifying experience lies somewhere between one’s incessant preoccupation with the extreme physical discomforts of survival and the local belief systems that promote the idea that all things are, by their nature, empty.  The effect is a physiological experience that makes it difficult to deny one’s interrelationship, not just with the environment but with “emptiness” as well.  As an artist, this experience is important in the process of creation; after all, emptiness is the womb from which form becomes manifest and through which the aesthetic experience becomes aware of itself…”*

     Prepare yourself for a sui generis passage into the world of the unknown as only the naked mind can take you, viewing art with different meaning and feeling, incomprehensible to the world, as we know it.  Philip Sugden is the master of sagacity.

 *Quotations have been taken from “Visions From The Fields of Merit; Drawings of Tibet and the Himalayas by Philip Sugden”; Floating Temple Press, January 2000, is a 144 page, 65 full-page, full-color, location and studio drawings of this amazing artist’s journey through a reality that many never reach.  Copies are available from the artist upon request.

 Editor’s note: Originally print published, 2005-06 Fall-Winter Art-to-Art Palette Journal. Some timed related portions have been omitted and only selected works shown in this electronic publishing. Professor Sugden is currently teaching at Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio. For more information, see or email

Published by on April 2013. Filed under Bugle Section, Educator's Row, Northwest Passage Record/NWPR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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