Background: I was born and brought up in Ramsgate on the Isle of Thanet – the easternmost corner of England. There is not a time when I don’t remember drawing and painting what I saw around me – the rich colours and textures of coastal flora and fauna, portraits of family and friends, everyday life in a seaside town.
Education: A handful of A levels, including Art, led me to read English at Oxford, all the while continuing to draw and paint to please myself. This was my training. I then took up work as an editor in art and educational publishing, before changing from words to pictures and becoming a full-time artist and art teacher in the early 1990s.
Art: I have know been working as a full-time artist for nearly twenty years. Most of my art pieces centre on subject matter from the natural world, with a marked emphasis on flowers, still life, plant forms and colours as their central components. Recently my tendency has been to move more towards abstract statements, serving both to refine and expand my fields of expression.
I try to make all my pictures rich in colour, pattern and texture; I draw a lot of inspiration from colourist painters, particularly Matisse, Ivon Hitchens and Howard Hodgkin, and also the great still-life painters Chardin, Braque and the Nicholsons. I personally find the combination of natural forms, vibrant colour, and expressive line and texture a constant challenge and delight: it is a constant challenge to invent, express and confirm a visual idea – a process that never grows any easier; it is also a delight to create in the hope of achieving something lasting – some small expression of truth made out of colours and paper.
Mediums: In the past I have created a lot of pieces using watercolour and gouache, both for their luminous and transparent qualities, and also because of the expressive fluidity of the mediums. Over the years, however, I have also grown more and more fond of pastel, which I found to be a rich, dramatic medium, capable of infinite sublties of line and texture. I enjoy using pastel in combination with other mediums, and more recently I have been using it in combination with printing techniques, notably monoprinting.
Each monoprint is an unique image. It is produced by painting with oil-based inks onto a metal or plastic plate and then running this plate through a hand-cranked roller press. The resultant image is basically a printed painting which cannot be duplicated – unlike most other printing techniques. This process was used by Rembrandt and also more recently by Matisse, Degas and Picasso. I like the ‘painterly ‘ image that the process facilitates and the fact that I can alter the image on the plate until I am happy with it – and only then commit it to paper. The same amount of ‘tinkering’ would not be possible with an ordinary water or oil-based painting.