Concepts and work processes

The choice of everything involved in the making of any piece or series of works is specific to the realisation of an idea. Occasionally an idea is fully formed but more often it will be something to work from, a starting point or a set of guidelines within which to operate. Each will have particular requirements in terms of scale, size, materials and methods of application.

For example – The Connections series of paintings began with decisions about the format and size of canvas, the size and type of brush that I would use. The idea was related to previous work and drawings made on a computer where ribbons or gestural calligraphic marks travelled through the canvas. The process of applying the paint with the particular brush and the nature of the oil paint slowed down the brush stoke which became more deliberate than in the more energetic calligraphic work. I choose to start with light colours and went as far as I could before colours would have become muddied, allowed the painting to dry and continued with further layers and configurations of meandering bands of colour. The subsequent series was made more knowingly and perimeters were set for the choice and sequence of colours. Paintings like ‘Red Stripe’ and ‘Green Dark-Light’ and the more recent ‘Threat’ where fully formed ideas, the small beeswax pieces were made more spontaneously, responding to things as they happened and drawing on previous experience.

Essentially my work is an exploration of the balance between conscious and less conscious processes in my practice. I am interested in notions of control and non-control, automatism, the observance of my own automatism’s and habits, and repetition and rhythm in this context. Activity is organised as partially described above, through the construction and development of operating systems that allow for the play of these processes, which include elements of uncertainty and intuition. Subject matter has been brought down to action, feeling and idea, painting as a medium reflects this process between feeling and acting. Finding a balance which allows for a simultaneous expression of will and emotion is a matter of maintaining control and letting go. A counterpoint, a balancing of opposites is created whereby the one maintains the other.

Although the work is abstract and does not have a subject as such some associative meaning is unavoidable and the work is affected or influenced by things seen, felt, experienced and interpreted - the world I live in and what is going on around me - consciously or unconsciously, sometimes acknowledged, sometimes not. I think it was John Hoyland who said that paintings are not necessarily intellectual; to be understood, rather they are to be experienced. How they are experienced by others will depend on the individual viewer’s feelings, background, temperament etc.