My paintings are an attempt to record present day life as I see and experience it here in Britain. I try to avoid the sensational, but rather aim for a quiet, contemplative view on life. I choose to paint the ordinary world that I am familiar with, the unremarkable, the world outside the back door, scenes that we are all familiar with. I hope that in the exercise I capture a little of our childhood sense of wonder in the process, by being aware, making others aware, and imbuing in my work a little of the magic of the everyday world that we inhabit. It is my belief that in our ordinary experiences of life there is drama enough, and mystery too in plenty. The world is so rich in the fullness of life that we need not invent the bizarre or the sensational, but quietly observe what is all about us. As an introduction here are a few examples of my painting subjects.
The Sisters 2013 32” x 24” ( 81 x 61 cms )
Many of my paintings are on the subject of domestic life, scenes in the home, often based on the homes that I have lived in. So that they fall into those categories of place. They include people in my life, used as models, sometimes as subjects themselves, as portraits too. There is a mix of real locations, often very familiar to me, and the invented. Rather as a novelist for example might draw on real life as they have experienced it, but also use the imagined in their work, so too in my paintings I blend locations and people in settings calculated to achieve the results that I aim for.
The Library 2015 38”x 22” ( 96 x 56 cms )
Another subject that captures my interest is that of public places. Where we gather in work and recreation in life. Where we meet, both in and out of doors. I might take up a subject and explore ways to make the most of it in planned compositions. Often in projects that evolve over years, with the inclusion of incidents, gestures and seen figures noted in life, all then replicated by using models, trying arrangements with drawings, and preliminary paintings. Attempting to make something beyond that which I can simply see and photograph.
Bridge over the Motorway 1997 64” x 40” ( 163 x 102 cms )
I sometimes come across striking locations that inspire me, or see a location in a magazine, on television or in a film. Such a place might be matched with a scene elsewhere, or populated with people that it seems to me ought to be there in that setting. It generates new ideas, adding the unexpected. It is my way of recording a place, or a person that I cherish. Yet often adding something also in an oblique visual way, about the unique life of our times.
Some locations attract me for their geometry, such as doors and furniture and particularly windows, and the light and shadow patterns that they produce. I see such as stage sets to be populated, not as something dramatic, more usually as harmony, but also to explore ambiguity; and personal relationships perhaps just hinted at, left for the viewer’s own imagination. The use of geometry in a painting, gives it structure, creates harmony, and a sense of order without being in most cases noticed by most, adding in that mysterious way to its quality.
A la Carte 2003 56” x 32” (142 x 81 cms )
Sometimes I try to bring several subjects together. There might be two or three projects for paintings, then one day I realise they could be amalgamated, to create something more ambitious and far more rewarding. Thus they generate more possibilities, for visual comments and visual effects. Yet they demand greater time and experiment to bring to resolution. Some fail in the process or linger unfinished for years after.
Shafts of light in Lincoln cathedral 1997 50” x 34” ( 127 x 88 cms )
A strong element in my paintings has been for a number of years the exploration of light effects. Over lit scenes where light overwhelms, scenes in poor light such as at dusk or even night. Our misty isle has perhaps always influenced British painters with its climate. I find that I am in a dilemma, between trying for atmospheric effects, but also for clarity. I most admire the firm monumental paintings of Seurat, Piero della Francesca, Poussin and Georges de la Tour and others. But I also admire the work of J.M.W.Turner, and the great Chinese landscape painters of antiquity. I am always exploring the effects of light in my work, at times to excess.
The sleeping men 2010 44” x 28” ( 112 x 71 cms )
Being by the sea is another constant subject for me, I live by the sea and am inspired by it, especially the wide expanse of both sea and sky. I like uncluttered seafront locations; beach scenes, esplanades and piers and so forth. At one time I lived near Great Yarmouth, and my favourite time there was after hours on the seafront, after the holiday crowds had departed. Being by the sea brings us vistas of infinity. Where people in the presence of the ocean relax, and at times realise their insignificance. Yet perhaps also of their place in the great mystery of time and space.