My initial starting point is to collect on-the-spot sketches supported by photographic reference; subjects will vary from coastal to urban and market scenes. I am selective when describing detail, I want to portray only the essence of the subject.
Having set the boundaries of the composition, I then apply my technique of transferring, type, tissue paper and old newsprint. Detail is then applied using acrylic paint, ink, and various bits of card. My use of colour – sometimes vibrant, sometimes almost monochrome – are key decisions I make as the work unfolds.
Shapes are created which relate to the abstract structure of the subject followed by random washes encouraging wonderful textural and ‘happy accidents’. From this state of chaos I endeavour to define the subject through various painting techniques to a finished stage where the subject has recognisable passages, but at the same time retains a semi-abstract, impressionistic feel, engaging the viewer’s imagination.
There is never a conscious plan to include abstract elements in my paintings. They develop by virtue of the fact that I like to work, as in my oils, with a limited palette, simplified matter, and the use of a variety of textural effects. I prefer a working process that allows plenty of freedom to respond to chance effects and ideas as a painting develops. I will usually apply areas of collage or colour with no particular reference to sketches or photographs I am working from, deliberately avoiding making any firm statements about the image. I follow a process in which I lose the image and then have the challenge of finding it through the mixed-media techniques that I use to develop the painting. This process, ‘lost and found’, continues through the development of the painting.
I am primarily a landscape painter. The sea, rivers and working ports have had a profound effect on me for years. The challenge presented by the simple seascape, which is nothing more than light and space, I find intriguing.
I continue to be moved and excited by my surroundings, still surprised by the combinations I see before me; by shapes, colours and textures.
My priority is capturing mood and atmosphere or colour of the scene at that particular moment. The inventory of objects and topographical correctness are much less important to me. Colour and atmosphere cannot be invented but translating what has been seen is my passion. I am inspired by both the abstracts of Picasso or Braque and the compositions of Degas or Walter Sickert. The important thing is that the art fulfils my objectives.