I am interested in the abstract ‘formal qualities’, meaning those of colour, shape, texture, and others. I start with a proposal, an idea, the origins of which may lie in nature, sign and symbol, or that very abstract of all the arts, music. The images that I manipulate often derive from the graphic forms of ancient cultures.
In this small (28 x 20 cm) series of pastel and collage works I was interested in simple, ‘Classical’ compositions.
My starting point is often the history of art. Like Alison Watt’s focus, not on the figure but the cloth draped on the body and what it tells us about absence, there is a vast field of reference to explore from the ‘damp’ Hellenistic, Nike of Samothrace, to the alienation of a ‘Wrapped Bottle’, by Christo.
Drawing in its various forms is a constant discipline. I have in the past taken the most mundane items and made a series of studies, always with the objects floating in isolation on the page in order to emphasis the purity of the form.
This series of soft pastel works on Fabriano Tiziano 160 paper, explore the boundary of the visible world, by using as a starting point; histology slides, light micrographs, scanning electron microscopes and transmission electron microscopes.
These paintings are loosely based on black and white or colour, Japanese wood block prints of the Oban period. My interest was in the dramatic poses struck by the actors in this dance, an informal piece of theatre when compared to the court form of masked, No theatre.
For a number of years I have run the Newton Solney Life Drawing Group which meets Thursdays. I regard life drawing as an essential discipline for all my other work. It teaches one the difference between looking and seeing. It is about how to observe. .
Standing stones, like ‘Carn Holy’ in Scotland, are recurring themes. Dolmens (cromlechs in Wales) are megalithic chamber tombs. Some bear the pecked remains of cup and ring marks, while others show mysterious spirals, serpentine lines and meanders.
In this series of large abstracts I am interested in making strong, heraldic images. The forms that I use are derived from my studies of the magic books of Mexico, or codex.
One of my regular pleasures is the opportunity every week to draw from a portrait model. Drawing from life is absolutely essential. Sometimes in graphite or biro or ink pen, the drawing usually takes me an hour and a half.
When I was invited to run a workshop for BTEC students, I wanted them to look at the American painter Janet Fish and her treatment of light, reflections and transparency. Where Fish worked large with oil paint I wanted the students to work small with ink.
Signs, for a painter of abstracts such as myself, are devices awaiting manipulation. In the ‘Palimpsest’ group (monoprint and stencil) I was interested in layering. In the ‘Archaic Script’ group (pastel and collage) I was interested in a ‘Classical’ composition.