This painting is from my New Forest series and the materials used include oil paint, cold wax medium and a solid block of oak. The oak block is 20 x 20 x 5cm. I have worked on cradled boards many times and have found that the harder surface encourages a more aggressive approach to mark making. The weight and density of the oak block takes this strategy a stage further and allows you to exploit the resistance and grain of the wood. That my subject matter is trees and I am working directly on the ‘machined’ surface of a tree only enhances the poetry and mystery of this activity we call painting.
I’m currently working on this painting… have been for quite a while now. It has gone through a series of changes and modifications, but that is just the way it always goes. The close up shots of the surface should give you an idea of the heavy impasto of the cold wax, the incisions and layering.
I increasingly find that a painting only really begins to ‘work’ after I have been through a stage of irrational confidence, followed by more rational misgivings and doubts to the final point of total despair. The point at which I lose all faith in the endeavour is the moment of maximum freedom, clarity and opportunity. That’s when I am liberated from my preconceptions and the false notions of correctness and quality…then I can begin to kick start the recovery. I repeat this ritual all the time….you would think that I would learn…but I can’t and I don’t.
This is a large mixed media painting on a 122cm x 92cm professional quality canvas. It was produced from studies created during my recent residency in the New Forest; the work is partly expressionistic and impressionistic in terms of technique and style. The medium is cold wax and oil paint applied with a variety of tools including brushes , scalpels and palette knives. The surface is built up in heavy impasto and alternately glazed and scored over a period of time.
I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter. If you have a moment, take a closer look at the detailed photographs to gain a more tangible sense of the textural qualities in this work.
This painting is currently on exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely until 28th October along with work from the artists Paul Janssens and Caroline Forward.
John Wise, author of The New Forest: Its History and Scenery, first published in 1862, knew a thing or two about the New Forest.
He offered this suggestion: ‘The best advice which I can give to see the New Forest is to follow the course of one of its streams, to make it your friend and companion, and go wherever it goes. It will be sure to take you through the greenest valleys, and past the thickest woods, and under the largest trees. No step along with it is ever lost, for it never goes out of its way but in search of some fresh beauty’.
I followed John’s advice and followed the Ditchend Brook yesterday, which I have to acknowledge doesn’t necessarily sound promising, but ……..what’s in a name? Always look beyond the label
And there are many streams to choose from: Linford Brook, Dockens Water, Latchmore Brook, Ditchend Brook, Mill Lawn Brook, Highland Water, Black Water, Ober Water, Bartley Water, the Lymington River, the Beaulieu River and far, far more. I think I may have some titles for my work.
I am now the second Little Van Gogh artist to have been awarded this New Forest residency. Really looking forward to the opportunity!
‘As an artist, I see visual ‘reality’ – the external world – as only a part of our understanding and perception. We see in relation to ourselves, our past, and the events that shape us as individuals. If my paintings have an uncertain quality it is because I feel that the world within us and around us is in a constant state of flux and transformation. During my residency in the New Forest I hope to produce work that reflects aspects of the location and environment but I don’t envisage that it will be a direct visual replica of what I see’.