practice

 

I work mainly in oil on canvas, but also on paper with watercolour, 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 Ralph Mayer. It contains dammar varnish, 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, in the sense of the human figure, has been a regular subject for my work even as other subjects come and go. Interest in this subject extends back to my youth when I used to draw family and friends. Much, much later the emphasis shifted from drawing people to painting them: in London and later in Dusseldorf, always working in oils and always from life, never from photographs.

"desert scene #1" (2010) was one of the first works painted with the support of a particular photograph.Up until then I had never used photographs in my practice. This work began a small series of urban scenes that included the goat motif, the latter being a trope dating back to my art student days at Kingston when images of goats featured strongly.

Since leaving the investment banking industry behind I have often reflected on my experiences. Memories of that time inspired the desert scene series and other images of commuter life. 

Following the move from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt in 2011 I set aside portraiture and figurative themes. I worked instead on a series of large canvases inspired by the construction site for the new European Central Bank headquarters building.

From 2013 to 2017 my focus returned to the theme of the human figure and the human condition. But this time I consciously moved away from the realism of my earlier portraiture instead working from my imagination rather than directly from life. My aim was to explore a new if no less truthful pictorial language for my figurative work. 

New and former interests were awakened in 2018 by an amazing journey through the fjords of Patagonian Chile as I switched my focus initially to landscape and increasingly to abstraction rather than figuration. Exhibitions at the projektraum basis, Frankfurt in 2018 and 2019 presented work inspired by that journey. See the blog for exhibition images.

A voyage in january 2020 to the antarctic peninsular via the beagle channel and tierra del fuego has proven equally inspirational. Whilst some of the work since that last journey has been figurative in style most of the recent output continues to be abstract. The november 2020 exhibition at the projektraum did not go ahead owing to the pandemic. The dates have been rescheduled to Summer 2021.