It’s the sea and skies that haunt me – as my weaknesses and strengths. In any way that they come, be it turbulent; calm and serene; a storm approaching or, of course, a mesmerizing sunset – all are my weaknesses. Inspired by my hero JMW Turner I try to match his strengths.
For many years I have practiced by the coastline of southern England from Cornwall, Kent to Dorset, and especially Dorset, where I was able to absorb the waves, how they function with the colours and reflections and lay them down in oils, on an appropriate surface. In fact, sometimes a simple snapshot, if not by the coast ‘en plein air’, is sometimes enough to set my brushes in a whirlwind of action.
Turner loved his Margate (so do I for painting) for its wonderful light and coursing currents. It was even worth trawling up my sisters 6 flights of exhausting stairs to the top of her Regency attic flat, which was practically on the beach itself, with all my equipment, for the astonishing view …crumbling rocks; a fading sun, but so worth that awesome climb on that particular day.
There are times when a painting will tell a story, either by title or content, willing the viewer to interpret it as they will. A romantic at heart, as most painters are, I believe, I love to tease the imaginations inherent in nearly all of us, as observers reading into it what they will or want to see.
In the Spring and Summertime, I am lured away…it’s so easy to be caught up in the wonder of nature. Colour and perfection of flowers and trees, growing wildly or posing sedately to be quietly represented as a studio study later and perhaps eventually evolved into a fully grownup piece.
I rummage, on these occasions, in my precious stash of quality oils (treated to myself on a couple of good sales) for my precious ‘Old Hollands’ and my number 5 Windsor and Newtons for their purity of colour, sometimes mixing and sometimes laid down as they come, as a source that will ignite a glorious bouquet in its prime. These I can arrange, with a concentrated light source, to capture ‘live’ and create, albeit fairly loosely, but representational of the bloom, in the hope it can be recognised.
These are two of the subjects that are both my weaknesses, and the strengths, of my work as a painter, and what I am about – trying to expand and experiment to see where it all will lead me – and somehow, not knowing where is, perhaps, the most exciting bit of all!