Tell us about your work
From leaving art college in 1987 until; discovering watercolour in 2013, my only 2D creativity was filling sketchbooks with sepia ink drawings using a basic cut bamboo pen. Working monochrome has taught me when using colour to keep my palette down to versions of the three primaries, relying on tone and composition to tell the story. From the late 80s to late 90s I travelled widely, with much walking from tropics to snowy mountains giving me a feel for landscape which is now embedded in my mind and drawn upon in my work. Painting almost exclusively watercolour for the past four years, land and cityscape are my main subjects, and I have to include at least one figure in every painting, even if that figure is so small as to be almost invisible. I do paint the occasional work in acrylic or oil, and shall pursue oil more as my confidence with the medium grows.
What creative project are you currently working on?
Short term, I’m creating work for entry to a number of open selection exhibitions, 40 paintings of European cities in square format for a gallery in Cologne, a couple of small local commissions and a large 4’x3’ oil painting commissioned by an British ex-pat living in Estonia. Long term, every artist’s desire: for each painting created to be uniquely mine.
How does your creative process work?
Never lacking subject matter I sketch every day, either from life or general ideas. I’ll work on new subjects, plein air and studio, experimenting with composition and mood until I find something with a bit of mileage in it, then honing rough edges (of roughing overworked smooth ones), pushing it further along the path of improvement to that ever so elusive success. I believe in painting as much as is possible, as with everything, practice makes ... better. Talking with other artists about their and my work is useful and getting robust criticism from everyone, regardless of artistic knowledge, is frequently enlightening and freshens stagnant ideas.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
1: Sketchbook, pencil and/or bamboo ink pen/ink
2: Watercolour paper, brushes and paint
Where do you search for creative inspiration?
As one who enjoys walking in rural landscapes and cities, there is never a shortage of ideas bombarding my imagination. Wide mountain scenes, views from a train, footpaths, busy stations and the artist’s favourite, people-watching all offer subject matter. I am a member of an art society where talks, demonstrations and criticism help creativity. Workshops with artists I admire are something of an addiction, every one I have attended, has given me valuable advice, as did a recent residency in France with a number of international artists.
What is the best piece of creative advice you have been given?
Copy the work of those you admire, put in the hours until you create your own style, and keep it simple.