Echoes have a habit of repeating
Days do the same
Listen first; change your sound
A new ribbon weaves its way
As artists we all strive to find our voices, our mark. It is what makes us who we are and gives us our identity. Over years of practice there has been a constant self perpetuated drive mainly because of the need and want to improve and find the perfect way of expressing what I want to say in paint, which I hasten to add is often in flux and changing which makes the process even more difficult. If it was easy I often wonder if I would paint. When I finally find my language that feels right for that moment it feel like nothing else matters. It perhaps can be thought of as a kind of mediation, the mark making and paint flow, the colours mix with ease. It’s perfect.
Keeping the work fresh and free is vital to the essence of my paintings but also to my spirit. I find myself imagining the places I have been and how I reacted to them at the time, and when clear in the mind it seems a natural instinct to be able to paint but once the memory starts to fade it seems so easy to repeat and echo. So I look for inspiration again, which comes in many forms listening to music, reading, writing and music but the core to it all is the landscape the rivers, mountains, moors, field and coastlines which seem to conjure something within me and makes my blood run freely once more. I have always needed the sky and the fresh air. Having spent many hours in the Lake District hills growing up, the outdoors especially the mountains feel like home to me. It never fails to amaze me what the human body can do and where it can take us, how we can walk for mile upon mile exploring wild hillside and tops and in so doing see the most amazing cloud formations and experience awesome weather in the real sense of the word. Landscape will forever inspire and energise me.
The idea of journey is foremost in my mind just now as I start a new body of work and wonder where it will take me. Having visited two major exhibitions recently by artists Joan Eardley and James Morrison whom I have always turned to as my guilty pleasure it has reminded me once more to find my own language. It is a delight to see such wonderful works and it’s great to enjoy and be spurred on but it makes me realise that you have to look forward and find what is real to you.
Whilst this is easy to say I feel strongly that there are definitely forces against me in this process, our fast lives, the bombardment of news and the frenzy of social media interruptions, and the diversions of business can all put your mind set off course and make you question what it is you are doing and why you are doing it. I imagine it is the same for most artists but I know myself that this is the part that makes me, me. If it weren’t for the struggles and uncertainties I wouldn’t have to try and push and work through and strive to make the next painting fresh. And so it goes.
It is often the pieces that are then made soon after or during this process that are the most poignant. As with the change of the seasons the moments most noted are the ‘in between’ paintings. These are the pieces I feel hold the most tension and meaning, the green shoots of late winter waiting, the nostalgic last leaf on the tree. Paintings poised to become more and to take on a life of their own.
I grow shy...
...when I am painting; it feels self-indulgent, a diary of fleeting personal experiences that solidify on the flux of the easel. My practice of painting is as fickle as the wind that blows between the mountains I portray, as arrogant as the imposing rock faces and as immersing as the play of light on water, it is addictive. I am the thief, the arboreal mistletoe; I take from nature in a gentle way. Stealing that moment of artistic creation gives me my freedom, it stirs and mixes the senses inside me like paint on a palette. Therefore Landscape is too small a word for what inspires my painting, because, it is less about the strict visual observation and much more about my individual exposure to the environment, in which I find myself immersed, and the memories that the exposure elicits.
So I attempt to translate the personal, spiritual vision of this distilled essence into a fabric of form and colour. From my belief that each of us perceives and interprets nature in a unique way comes the liberty not to need the approval of others to validate my art. Yet somehow, I yearn to know that others understand the way I experience the world. It is that lust for the harmony of experience that drives my love for art and my compulsion to paint.
Of course there is always a story to tell about each of my canvasses but this tale is ill served by extended prose. Words merely distract from the instinctive perception of the mind and therefore sap the strength of the work. The energy of my work arises not from the vibrancy of colour but from the very instant in time, the now of the moment, I reflect not the harsh single emotions of hate, lust, fear, but more the blended emotions of daily life peppered (veiled) with utopian ideals of romanticism. The natural hues of greys and greens have an intrinsic honest beauty for me, and there is a euphoric feel to bright yellows and blues. Often I find there is beauty enough in a single moment to fill a whole day. Wordsworth wrote about the daffodils as though he had never seen them before. He wrote in the joy of that moment but with a nod to the imprints on the soul of previous experiences. For me it is a similar experience, each instant is a unique thing but somehow it takes its reference from the past and yet gives insight to the future. Everything is transient and yet it is impossible for anything to leave no trace or impression behind it.
My work is that lasting trace of those passing emotions, it is about a lack of fear and a confidence of feeling. It is an acceptance of the now and an acknowledgement of the transient beauty, of our emotional brain.