I make art because it is a natural thing for me to do. To create pictures is to be involved in a strange, wonderful and mysterious activity and the act of image making deepens the sense of mystery and fascination we all experience in our lives.
I have traveled widely and been inspired by many different places; the countries in which I have lived and worked are inevitably present in my work. They appear and reappear, even when my focus and attention seems to be elsewhere.
In my painting, I don't attempt to describe a particular place or geographical location. I am more interested in personal experiences, the shapes, the colours and the textures that can be combined to create unexpected visual outcomes. I try to achieve a feeling of time passing, of change in the midst of permanence, and permanence in the midst of change.
The visible world is only the outer layer that confronts our eyes. When we begin to talk about seeing and perception, we quickly realise that what we see, is only a part of the story, just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t just see what is directly in front of us, we see in relation to ourselves, our past, and our experiences. If my paintings have an uncertain quality then I may have made some progress; nothing in our world stays the same, nothing is fixed.
This is where the real magic and power of art resides, in the alchemy of materials, memory, awareness and feeling. This is why painting is ultimately so rewarding.
I hope you will find qualities in my painting that give you pleasure and enjoyment.
Followers of this blog will have an idea about the number of photographs I have taken of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I had many images on this theme and collated them in a book using the Bookwright software. What you will find here is an edited collection and some of these shots you may have already seen. Most of the captures included were taken during the Winter of 2020/21 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; maybe that is why they are so dark. For me, these are archetypal images of the land I walk across and cycle through every day. It is where I live. Others will see this place very differently but this is a personal interpretation of the landscape, the roads, tracks, rivers, dykes, droves and the wetlands of East Anglia.
Christo and Jean Claude never explained, interpreted or gave meanings to their work; they didn’t need to. We will always obligingly do that for them. Writers and art critics have theorised about their ideas, conjuring a complex set of social, political, philosophical and psychological reasons why we should be interested in the art they produced. If I list many of the customary arguments here, you might consider them to be pretentious, meaningless drivel. And who knows, you may well be right. What I know is, I love the mystery and sense of wonder they created by using the unbelievably simple device of concealment, and for some reason it is far more effective if the object is relatively well known and familiar in terms of scale and shape.
This is a large acrylic work exploring the possibility of creating the illusion of movement in painting. I am always in two minds about using acrylic and I often find myself switching to oil paints after a period of time. (Please note, you can make the change if the oil paint layer is applied after the acrylic, not the other way around). To be accurate, you can break the rules and add acrylic to an oil base but the results can be unpredictable and tend to make the top layer unstable. The secret for me is not to judge a work completed in acrylics by the same criteria as a painting completed in oils. I have never been able to replicate the natural qualities of oil paint in acrylics and the use of acrylic mediums will only take you so far. However, they are fantastic for making bold statements in colour.
The influence of the Italian Futurists can be seen in this work and I’m currently building translucent layers with the addition of a slow drying agent and various glazing mediums. Speed and confident execution are key in maintaining freshness and immediacy on this scale. I have literally been dancing in front of the canvas in a style reminiscent of Irish stepdance, albeit with my feet anchored to the ground and my arms flailing like a whirling dervish. Let’s see how it develops…those white areas are definitely too strident at the moment.
Don’t worry, I’m not claiming to have produced a masterpiece but I do see a connection between the two images. The power of Diane Arbus’s photograph rests on our understanding of individuality and identity. The twins were seven years old when Arbus spotted them at a Christmas party for twins and triplets. The twins’ father once said about the photo, “We thought it was the worst likeness of the twins we’d ever seen.”
The houses next to the River Great Ouse share a deadpan presentation and surface likeness, but they are not the same. The flat emptiness of the Fenland landscape behind the houses echoes the featureless white wall behind the twins who remain quietly animated by their differences.
A day in the life of a large-scale abstract painting. This is the third day on this particular piece and I’m really enjoying the process of making marks. I’m trying to achieve a sense of energy, dynamism, and optimism. Sweeping arcs of translucent color seem to be the way forward using a broad range of arm and hand movements There is no room for hesitation or excessive deliberation in this approach. As a musician, I feel this approach has a great deal in common with the seamless transitions of ‘slide’ guitar.