My present obsession comes from visiting Mexico,where I drew town squares with brightly coloured buildings, arched entrances and long shadows. The scenes reminded me of Giorgio De Chirico's work which the viewer is left anticipating the action. I played with the Cinema Western Cliché of a dramatic showdown, with tall shadows and sombreros.
When not in a showdown these men in Black Sombreros like nothing better than to ride a swing boat.Some are part time Circus Performers, Acrobats, Trapeze Artists ,Clowns etc. If they fancy a change they step out of the picture, into the frame and beyond.
This is an illustrated introduction to some of the fundamental ideas behind my paintings.
The photo above shows a view of my studio at Birmingham Art College in 1972. The canvas pictured is called 'black painting number 3' painted during my black paint phase.
The abstract expressionist painter's ideas particularly Pollock, Kline and De Kooning were hugely influencial in British Art colleges when I was an Art student in the '70s. Jackson Pollock's paintings were "happenings" on canvas. That idea of creating a painting being 'an event' has always been central to the way I work. Preparatory drawings on canvas before one started a painting would have been a sacrilege, and would not be looked upon as modern!
Welcome to my abstract painting phase. This image is called 'Summer Days' and is painted in oil on canvas, 80 x 30cm.
After University I started to explore Abstract Expressionism. Above is one of numerous paintings I have done over the last 10 years celebrating the style, influenced by painters such as Howard Hodgkins.
This painting is called 'Celtic Landscape', oil on canvas 100 x 80 cm
The last 5 years for me has been a period of intense experimentation. Ideas have been taken up and abandoned while some elements have stayed in my painting. I began to introduce landscapes and historical elements into my paintings in around 2012. I was influenced by Barbara Rae and Jack Butler Yeats, among others.
Drawing of Bristol Temple Meads train station.
Parallel to my practice I have always done observational drawings from landscapes, city and seascapes. Around 2012 I started to combine drawn images with abstract forms. I had been to Russia and was impressed by St. Basils in Moscow. The painting below uses Russian folk elements, Tsarist textiles and the Firebird ballet (by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky) as inspiration, as well abstract forms. Marc Chagall's work with its glorious colours is another big inspiration for me.
This painting is called 'The FireBird', oil on canvas 30 x 30cm
In 2014 I undertook a residency at Trowbridge Town Hall and during this time made a painting of the old Regal cinema in Trowbridge before it closed in the 1930s. The process of engaging with events from the past intrigued me.
'Regal' painted in acrylic on canvas
During my residency The Tour of Britain 2014 cycled through Trowbridge. This inspired me to find ways in my painting to express the figures and speed of the cyclists. Visitors to my open studio were very positive about these paintings which gave me the confidence to start working more figuratively.
During a visit to Rome that same year I saw paintings by Rapheal and Caravaggio in their original settings which I was hugely impressed by. The art of the Renaissance and the importance of the figure of "God as man" had a profound effect on my work. As the figure became more important, I started going to life drawing classes in order to understand more about anatomy
'The Peloton' painted in acrylic on canvas, 80 x 30cm
Preparatory drawing in pencil for 'The Climb'
The preparation of my paintings saw a move to more classical technique in which I drew the figures in pencil before starting the paintings. Something I never thought I would do back in my Birmingham Art College days!
This me in the studio during my Trowbridge Town Hall residency, putting the finishing touches to my painting 'The Climb', acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cm
Recently I have been working on a solo exhibition called 'Reimagined' showing from the 30th April – 29th October 2016 at Trowbridge Museum. I created artwork inspired by old black and white photos, shaky newsreels and Trowbridge Museum resources, centering around the theme of cycling in 1900. News about upcoming events and workshops coming soon! Click on the buttons below to find out more about 'Reimagined' or view my portfolio.