For me, it’s all about colour and my relationship with the paint.
I use oils. I value its complexity. It can give the gracefully light touch of butterfly wings or the hard line of tempered steel. Unlike acrylic, oil has the lustre of a fresh water pearl and through the combination of mineral pigments, pressure & time it is brought to life on the canvas after sleeping for millennia. Oil gives me the precision of colour-making and the freedom to work on several pieces at once over months because of its own time discipline.
My usual practice starts with a sketch drawn from direct observation. In contrast to painting, I work the sketch rapidly in a matter of minutes. I sketch in colour. The immediacy of oil pastel appeals to me because what I usually sketch is ephemeral, the sunrise for example.
When making a painting I stick to the ‘truth’ of the sketch. I rely on it rather than memory. It is my only ‘reality’.
My home town of Grimsby teaches me humility. It is a gritty, socially deprived place. I work hard to witness beauty, finding it in only in the natural world. I engineer it to be in the right place at the right time to witness great visual valuables; the heartbreaking beauty of a sunset amidst the chimneys of the Humber Bank for example, the natural & manmade, beauty & ugliness hand in hand. I am compelled to record what I see.
This compulsion may drive me to get up at 4am to sketch a summers sunrise or sit on Cleethorpes seafront, late on a winters afternoon, to chance the full moon rising out of the sea.
I look at the world around me, with an aesthetically critical eye, like a raptor, constantly scanning for future paintings.
For me painting is a complete experience. It can be intellectual; technical; experiential; childish; emotional; physical and spiritual.
I was struck by huge skies and the epic horizons of Lincolnshire and its coastline over twenty years ago while on the Fine Art degree at Liverpool John Moores University (known then as The Liverpool Polytechinic).
In 2010-12 I was resident artist at Spurn Point Nature Reserve, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust where I set up studio & stayed at the top of the Lighthouse.