I think art is about life and how we live it. And, because I’m an optimist, I think that art should be about appreciating the things that you find around you. Art should be beautiful, and it should be full of life.
But the real point of art is the sharing, the conversation. When I paint a picture, I am offering you an experience, a viewpoint, a way of looking at the world. In a way, I am asking if you understand. Not about art, but about life, and about the world we live in together as human beings, and about the strangeness and the commonality of being human.
And me? I think too much. I like to know what and why and how, whether in anticipation or retrospect, and when I paint things I need them to be recognisable and true to the moment. I like open spaces and high hills, the comforting presence of trees and the energy of water in motion. I love a good story, especially if it has a happy ending, and I still believe that it’s possible to rescue innocent dragons from errant princes.
SubjectsMost of my pictures are of places. Landscapes, really, but that word brings images of grand vistas to my mind, which is not what I paint. My outdoor places are often more limited, more intimate. I try to capture the experience of being there. It’s atmosphere and intrinsic character of a place that I’m after, the intangible sense of the moment. Similarly, my paintings of people are as much about their actions and interactions as they are about their appearance. Still life paintings – pictures of things – are often about the objects’ potential or actual use.
StyleMy style is bold, clear and lively. I work in the tradition of representational art, to which I add a contemporary intensity and elements of expressionism. I aim to capture the essentials of my subject, recognising its identity and its presence. In this – and in my preference for direct observation – I am following the lead of the French Impressionists. Corrected vision (for short sight) has given me a fondness for the clarity of hard edges, which I find well-matched by the strong colours available in modern pigments. My standard palette uses only three or four colours – cyan, magenta, yellow and white – so I habitually break observed colours down to the primaries and, with a subconscious nod to Seurat, often leave them only partially reconstructed.
- Oil. Most of my landscapes are knife-painted oils. I like the immediacy of the knife and the malleability of the neat oil paint, and have developed my own unique set of knife techniques. I often use a natural-colour linen ground that I leave unpainted in selected areas.
- Acrylic. As I often use brushes with acrylics, these tend to be more detailed paintings than my oils.
- Inks. From the fine lines of a pen to dynamically mixed colour, the intense colours and high contrast potential of inks seem to suit my style well.
Growing up in the semi-rural midlands of England in the 1970s and 80s, the dream of spending my life making art seemed distant and unattainable. So, following well-meant advice, I studied science to degree level and eventually embarked on a career in technical communications. A combination of events in my late thirties made me reassess my priorities, and art became the driving force of my professional life, albeit subject to the demands of family life. As my children get older and gain more independence, I have been able to increase the effort and time I can put into art.
My inspiration comes from my environment. I am fortunate to live here in north Hampshire, an area of great natural beauty, and to have ready access to the hills and trees that I love. The coast – endlessly fascinating in so many ways – is a little further away, but is also a great inspiration.
The idea of a boundary or of an inbetween state – neither one thing nor another, in constant flux – is a recurring theme in both my life and my art, and one that I hope to investigate further in the future.
It seems as if everyone and their pet gerbil has a stream of social media these days, and artists are no exception. If nothing else, it’s a way of being seen (important if you are a visual artist) and of interacting with other artists! This is how I tend to use my social media:
Instagram has a strong visual emphasis and is easy to upload to from a mobile phone.My phone’s camera isn’t very good, but it suffices for quick shots of work in progress, so that’s what I usually post on Instagram.
Facebook tends to get the news (including things too trivial to write a blog post about) and the finished work, often as a link to the blog post.
I use Twitter less than I used to. It gets some of the news and some of the finished work. There’s also a few quirky connections that have accumulated over the years, so expect to see random retweets concerning “absolute units” and atrebates.
My Newsletter is an infrequent publication. It usually goes out when there is a significant event or two imminent; I probably send three or four a year at most.
If you want an email for every finished work and every event worthy of a post, you can subscribe to my blog here; on past records, I tend to post once or twice a week.