About My Process
The experience of the landscape; how it feels, moves, sounds and smells, and what this suggests to me, are as important as how it looks; so, I often use non-visual sensing techniques, stream of consciousness writing, poetry, and found objects alongside plein-air sketches and photography to document my impressions. These are the raw materials that I use to provoke and underpin my finished works.
I am drawn to woods and trees, rock and water, to clouds and wind and rain. I have favourite places I return to and discover again and again. Paths I walk repeatedly. These are the backbone of my practice, but I also like to travel and discover new places, and even the urban and man-made (such as religious buildings, ancient ruins or gardens). The woods and heaths of NW Surrey, the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, the Haute Vienne in France, the provincial Philippines are all regular haunts; but the desert highlands of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, Hong Kong and Singapore have also featured in my practice.
Working repeatedly with a subject I unlock unthought gestures, spontaneous choices of colour or media, uncovering the line, the shape or texture of a related idea. Through repetition I ‘practice’ this idea as an actor might inhabit a character or a musician prepare for a recital, but always allowing mistakes, differences and alterations to happen to create a rich resource of images. I give myself permission to stray, purposely allowing myself to wander away from the script or score.
I then continue to ‘perform’ these wider ideas, increasing my familiarity and confidence in them, thereby hoping as I work, to bypass conscious or deliberate thought to build a variety of connected instinctive images.
When I think an image is finished, I stop. If, in the sum of the marks I made, I see something new, as well as a distillation of memory and place, then I am pleased, and the act of painting has become deeply rewarding. This provokes me to make more. The end of one picture prompts the beginning of another, creating sequences and series in which lie insights that help me make sense of the world. Because my works are related each carries a title that links it to its siblings, a date of ‘birth’, and a grid reference identifying the location of its conception.
I think of the whole process as distillation brought about by the ‘fast mixing’ and ‘long reflection’ that are central to my process. I liken these two aspects to ‘boiling’ and ‘condensation’. They work to a human timescale. But I am also exploring other ways of making - longer, repetitive processes that emulate earth’s creative forces such as erosion and sedimentation, or the cataclysmic in which destruction creates something entirely new.