Practice

 

I work mainly in oil on canvas, but also on paper using ink, pastel or oil pastel.

The composition of a work is typically developed on the canvas but I will often use the sketch book to develop ideas and resolve issues with the composition. I make use of photographs I find on the internet and elsewhere as a support for my ideas and for the composition.


For many years now, I have preferred to apply the paint to the canvas in very thin layers, like water colour, sometimes waiting a week for the layer to dry completely, sometimes just painting wet layer on wet layer. It depends on what
effect I am looking to achieve in the work.


Although I continue to mix up oil colours on my palette I prefer to achieve the final colour effect on the canvas by means of mixing two or more hues "optically", that is by the application of colour in layers on to the canvas and letting them blend “optically” as one layer of colour is seen through the colour placed on top of it. A blue layer of paint over a yellow layer of paint will create a green layer. This technique also lends depth to the work and is known as glazing.


I make my own turpentine-based painting medium for glazing which is based on a recipe by Mayer. It contains dammar varnish (which I make myself by disolving dammar crystals in turpentine), stand oil and a cobalt drying agent.Where glazing is not wanted I simply use a different technique, medium or a less transparent oil colour.

Inspiration

Figuration - the human figure - has been a core interest even as other interests come and go, an interest grounded in a love of drawing that emerged in youth with drawings of family and friends. Much later, from 2005 onwards, the emphasis shifted to painting: in London and later in Dusseldorf, always working in oils and always from life, never from photographs. See "Others" & "Self".

"Desert scene #1" (2010) was one of the first works I produced which was not painted directly from life but with the support of a particular photograph.Up until then I had always avoided painting from a photograph as the results I had seen elsewhere seemed unsuccessful. This work began a small series of paintings that combined an urban theme with the goat motif, a trope that dates back to my art student days at Kingston when images of goats featured strongly. See "Urban".

An occasional topic since my leaving the investment banking industry for the second and final time has been the world of everyday work, whether it's an office, a building site or a commuter train. See "Working life".

Following my move from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt in 2011 I decided at first to set aside portraiture and figurative themes. I worked instead on a series of large canvases inspired by my sketch book studies of the construction site for the new headquarters building of the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank. See "Urban".

From 2013 to 2017 my focus then shifted back to the theme of the human figure and the human condition. This time however I consciously moved away from the earlier more realist approach of my portraiture. I wanted instead to work from my imagination rather than directly from life with the aim of developing a new if no less truthful pictorial language for my figurative work. 

More recently I've made use of the inspiration given me by an amazing journey in March 2018 through the fjords of Patagonian Chile to move into landscape and abstraction and away from figuration. The first fruits of this new direction were on show in my recent exhibition "DESOLATION" in October 2018 (see under "Recent works" and "blog" for more details).