Painting is an integral part of who I am, it is my primary form of expression which allows me to achieve a sense of belonging in the world. Painting is a way for me to investigate and resolve my place in areas of time and space in which I occupy.
The environment I am most drawn to is nature. Being surrounded by forestry and vast mountainous spaces trigger my sense of place. It evokes a wonder that drifts between the relevance of humanity and the purpose of existence. When isolated by the surroundings of nature a dialogue emerges through self-awareness where a bond between humanity and nature is significantly felt. Back in my studio this dialogue has a strong hold on what happens when I paint and my aim is to bring these conversations to the surface turning them into something tangible.
Photography is something that I would use as a type of journal, recording ideas and inspirations. I often bring my film cameras out with me to capture the things that interest me about a certain environment. I try to capture the atmosphere and mood of a place that mirrors my mood and emotion. I often put myself into the photo so I can become a part of it. When I study the resulting negatives and images I use the ones that bring visual narrative to my attention.
Through the memory of a place or an event, I jigsaw layers of paint onto the surface of the canvas pushing its boundaries until a narrative starts to emerge. Feelings that I am not alone in the solitary confinement of my studio often result, as if an absurd affinity between the work and I have occurred. It prompts the feeling that the work is reaching a place of relevance and the conversation finally emerges.
Through lots of layering and working up the surface of the painting, I sometimes take it off again and rework it until I have reached a place of recognition. I like to experiment a lot with my art. I sometimes expose parts of my negatives directly onto the canvas. I do this through my alternative darkroom processing technique called liquid light painting or painting with light. This makes the canvas light-sensitive so that I can develop a negative onto the canvas as I normally would when I’m developing a picture onto photographic paper. There is always the chance that the image fails to emerge after the exposure, but this is what makes it unique and interesting to me. It has a presence of something tangible by chance which appeared only to disappear. Leaving marks of tones and textures, the images that disappear are often more important and meaningful to me than those that stay.
I work the oils onto the same surface and the exposed image is one of the many layers that help build up the surface. The exposed image is also a way for me to bring the figure into the work. It may get fully or partially covered leaving parts untouched or it can be transparent through layers of paint over or underneath the exposure. I usually let the exposed image dictate how the paint should interact with it and sometimes I would use other media such as sand to add further texture to the work.
This is a light sensitised piece of paper from my sketchbook (very small sketch book, Approx A6). I love the involvement of my painterly techniques that liquid light sensitising allows. It resembles an organic type of conversation between my ‘painter’ and ‘photographer’ side. This is all too inevitable I feel.. I’m enjoying the collaboration of both sides.. At the moment I am pushing this experience into a more ‘intrusive’ environment where I am marrying the two worlds together. Does/Will it work?? I am pushing my boundaries so I guess I have answered my question..
This is my son Aaron on sketchbook paper.
This is a self portrait on light sensitised watercolor paper.
I am preoccupied with thoughts of time and existence. I am not sure why, perhaps it is to do with my adoption and dealing with what that meant to me growing up..Or maybe it is just to do with my awareness of how short a time span we get to live on this tiny planet. It may be both..I don’t know.
Here is something I’m working on at the moment. I use myself in the photo as part of 2 life forms communicating with the surroundings within the realm of existence (the second life form being the long living trees). Thoughts such as the fading of time and of memory, the fragility of the mind and of life itself are all part of a reminder of sorts about what we are.
I took this photograph on my Praktica MLT50 film camera. (I love the this camera!) I used the built in timer to help take the photo but it was tricky as I had only approximately 5 seconds to get into position. It was a good thing too though as I had no time to think of what pose I should fall into. When I was developing this in the darkroom, I wanted a faded exposure so I used my enlarger to help achieve this. The photographic paper I used is warm-tone for warmth and authenticity.