There are several threads to my working practice, which interweave, overlap and cross reference, practically, and ideologically, providing a strong foundation for landscape inspired oil paintings. Contrasts of stillness and movement, of scale, colour and texture are elements that I experience as I walk, which are replicated in my paintings. My eye is caught by the stillness of the horizon, or a tree…but everything else is in flux…this is what I seek to capture on canvas, a dance that is poetic, evocative and mysterious.
Underpinning it ,is drawing, the most immediate and direct connection with all things visual and tactile. For me, drawing is a way of taking in and storing a response to a passing image, detail, composition or idea. I always have a sketchbook or two with me. Some are small, filled with pen and ink fragments, notes and colours. Others are pre-altered, treating pages with gesso, tissue, wax etc., ready to connect with on-the-spot drawings done in pencil, charcoal, oil pastel or inks. Sometimes I use berry juice, soil and leaves to stain the paper. I have dozens of books that continue to influence my current work. Altering a surface before proceeding is a common practice; one that I apply to Life Drawing, a discipline that I follow regularly.
In the studio, memory, images and materials combine to explore ideas generated. I am fascinated by light, atmosphere and the illusion of depth. Implied and actual surfaces contribute to a rich exploration of the spirit of place that I experience passing through the landscape. For these ‘experiments’, I will tear, scratch, use wax, inks, layer watercolours and acrylics…anything that will disturb the surface and create a complex density, resonant of the land, sea or sky.I like to use raw pigment embedded in the surface. These pieces often develop into something of substance that stand on their own.
Making larger oil paintings is furthering the journey, with an unknown destination. There is exhilaration and fear, anticipation and a heightened sense of awareness. On the way, there are stops…sometimes I wish I had stayed in a place, but it is likely that something even more exciting is around the corner. With this approach, it is essential to have several pieces on the go at any one time. Paintings are finished when they say something beyond the obvious. ‘What have you seen in mysterious places’..or..’ The threatening presence of the encroaching force’.
Having painted and drawn for most of my life, I have followed and been influenced by countless artists. Contemporary artists of note are Barbara Rae, Richter, Tapies and Jennifer Durrant, also Andrew Hardwick, Sax Impey and Judy Buxton. I am hugely impressed by the paintings of Patrick Heron, and of Joan Eardley and Christopher Wood. Diebenkorn and Twombly and the extraordinary surfaces of Anselm Kieffer give everlasting inspiration.