Questions Questions Questions
I am frequently asked questions about my work and also about the art world in general, so here I hope to answer some of the most common questions.
Questions about my own work I can usually answer - or try to. The world of fine art is very keen on explanations, essays and artist's statements so you get used to answering questions about your work. (Though sometimes the more far fetched the explanation, the better it seems to go down.) I do think it's quite sad that a piece of work should need a lengthy explanation to accompany it.
Questions about the art world in general are more difficult. I am no art expert - never have been and never will be. I have to admit that I hardly ever go to exhibitions. The truth is that I have very little time to visit galleries and as my own work comes very much from within me rather than from experiencing other artists' work, I tend to use the time I have to explore things that do influence me like dreams, mysticism and nature.
That is not to say that I don't admire other artists work. The world is full of wonderful art and the artists that I like are too numerous to mention- all sorts from William Blake to Arthur Rackham to Mark Rothco.
My Work and Ideas
People often ask me what I would describe my work as. This is a particularly difficult question, because I've always felt that paintings shouldn't need to fit into a certain category or belong to a certain art movement. I suppose the simplest and most honest answer would be that I would describe my work as just that: "My Work."
In fact, when I think about it, my paintings don't seem to fit into any of the recognized categories anyway. If I really had to put a label on them I would have to describe them as "mystical" or perhaps "mystical fantasy with Gothic overtones". My work is usually described as visionary and I suppose that's quite an apt description.
By "fantasy" I mean something that comes from the imagination rather than from life, though of course everything we experience in life fuels our imagination. Most of my paintings are of imaginary scenes: I see a picture or an idea in my head and try to capture it, to put it down on paper and make it real. The original ideas themselves come from all sorts of things - dreams, legends, mysticism, nature. . . .
We in the British Isles have a rich tradition of legends and mythology as well as a wealth of folklore and fairytales; they are our heritage, and I have always had a keen interest in them. I draw on many of these sources when creating my work, mixing them in with my own ideas and experiences.
Much of my work contains overtones of magic and ancient beliefs. I like to explore the idea that the earth has a darker, lesser known side, perhaps one of which our ancestors were more aware. This is probably most evident in my Earth Light Tree pictures, a series of paintings that represent a central theme in my work. These pictures all show imaginary scenes in which trees, forests or woodlands glow with their own earth light and life force, symbolizing the power and magic that the earth holds. Like most of my work, they show nocturnal scenes, so that the light from the ground and the trees becomes the central focus. The moon in various phases and a stony path are often included in these pictures and are part of the symbolism that runs throughout my work.
I have always been fascinated by moonlight and often walk at night, especially on the hills and in woodlands. I love wild places, and at night time they seem to take on a particularly magical feel. Constantly observing and experiencing such places has definitely influenced my work and has enabled me to create my own scenes with, hopefully, as much mood, magic and atmosphere as I have felt.
I am constantly striving to create the atmosphere I want, and to this end I've experimented with many different materials. I discovered pastel about 10 years ago when someone bought me a small box of assorted colours; before this I had tried a variety of media including oil, watercolour and pencil. Pastel, once discovered, had a very strange effect on me, and I just couldn't leave it alone. It's a wonderful medium, very direct and personal, almost like cutting out the middleman - you don't need any implements to apply it, just your fingers. I felt as though I'd found the perfect medium with which to create my work. I now use pastel for most of my paintings.
When starting a new piece of work I very rarely do studies beforehand; if I do they tend to be so rough as to be legible only to myself. I never do detailed preliminary drawings I just scribble down the basic shapes and shadows. Anything that is going develop or change I would rather did so on the actual piece of work, so more often than not I just start on a painting straight away and see how it goes.
What can I say about art colleges? For some people I'm sure they are wonderful places, full of enlightenment and inspiration. For others like myself they are not.
I did endure a brief stint at art college and for me it was definitely a mistake as far as my work was concerned. I found it narrow minded and restrictive. Much of the work there seemed the same. Any individuality was lost or over run and too heavily influenced by the lecturers' own ideas. Other work seemed to be based on gimmicks or tricks. I have never been able to paint to please and found it impossible to conform to their ideas of what art should be. Like most students I made some wonderful friends and had lots of fun but art college itself was for me a waste of time.