I’ve been drawing octopi for years now. On and off I develop mild obsessions with various subjects. This takes the pressure off of me and allows me to focus on tuning my eye in to something tangible. I think these creatures appeal to me because of their changeable form, colour and texture. There’s always something new to see every time I return to drawing them. Here’s a select few from a set of ten I did last month. An exploration of various styles of mark making too. No mater what the medium I explore those loose and suggestive marks.
Stray Dogs of Sicily. Painted in photoshop over the course of this week. Caught these beautiful old things on camera while on holiday a few years ago, always been meaning to do some work from what I gathered there. Working on my painting style, hopefully to be translated into oils soon as I get the time. Left the background to the imagination on this one, adds a dream like quality I thought, plus lets your eye create the rest of the space., having used only a few lines and colour changes. Plenty more development happening currently.
Recently I’ve been becoming more confident with my mark making, I think due to a general attitude of experimentation and trying to find a more essential look to my observational stuff. With digital it can be hard to embrace the organic and smudgey feel I aspire to with oils. I’ve developed a way of working in photoshop recently that’s starting to feel quite satisfying. No layers, about 4 brushes and often not even lifting the pen off the tablet. A harking back to the practices of art foundation, and a real step forwards for my mark making. I’ve tinkered about with this style of painting before when I was obsessed with Natahan Ford and David Ajenjo’s work. My aim is to take some of this spontaneity into oils soon when I get time. Can’t wait to try a portrait in this style..
Although I’m not by any means a prolific painter, the practice of putting colours together in an abstract way on a board, or canvas has been part of what I do for as long as I can remember. Not the biggest part, but a consistent one. I think with abstract work, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of painting, as often without the anchor of a solid subject, you can easily come adrift, and several bad colour choices later you’re looking at a very different painting than an hour ago. I feel the successes I’ve had with abstraction come from being bold, and tying the piece to some abstract notion or concept, routinely undisclosed.
When I get spare time I’m mildly obsessed with making electronic music, Roland, Korg and Arturia get most of my spare money. When working with sequencers and drum machines there’s a subtle quantisation that begins to happen in your thinking. The hardware keeps notes in sync at 4s-8s-16s-32s etc, and this looping and repetition sometimes finds its way into my paintings. The Brain loves finding patterns and order, I guess seeking out meaning and making sense of things. I see these patterns and repetitions in nature too, when I look out from my studio to see layers of colour and growth. In these paintings below there’s some suggestion of space, with an implied horizon line, but the square format, in my view, keeps it ambiguous. These are untitled pieces, and both in acrylic. On the left, a recent canvas commission at 80x80cm and the right, a recently sold piece on hardboard at 50x50cm. Currently working on a much bigger commission around this style. watch this space.
When preparing for my recent show, which was so rudely interrupted by coved, I made quite a few one day paintings that were intended to occupy a kind of study corner in the show, a little nook where the style was loose and experimental. Things that were just in my line of sight on a daily basis that I felt drawn to. If you look at anything long enough, and study it with fresh eyes, there’s great beauty to be captured, even the presence of a spray can, a mass produced object. Varying levels of success here, all in oils, and on board. I feel the orchid painting has something about it that’s worth pursuing, something about the composition and the cutout bold shapes is unusual for me, a more flat composition defined by the bold shapes. I worked this one up quickly, always a sign I’m in the zone on a piece..
This painting is based on an epic sky from late autumn 2020. Off the back of some plain air work I was doing at the time, I developed a real desire to expand on photos I’d taken. Here, taking a standard format shot of a sky over Sheppey and expanding it out into more of a panoramic. I’m using the mixer brushes in photoshop quite heavily here, this is a delightful way to work when you get the settings just right. I think even though it’s digital, my mark making still has some umph to it. Large image painted at 600x250mm
To be printed in Gicle’ paper.
In August 2020 I booked an exhibition space in Whitstable for March 2021, rather optimistically, considering we were looking like entering a second wave of the pandemic here in the UK. When trying to figure out what I was going to produce for the show, I started taking some trips out with the sketchbook while the weather was still holding. I felt driven under the circumstances to take every opportunity to connect with the outdoors after being cooped up for months and to bring those little escapes into my work. I made it up until mid October before my sketch days turned into ‘take the camera out and wrap up warm’ days. Luckily my interest in digital painting matches my passion for oil work. Apart from the final painting, in oils, these are images I worked on from reference in photoshop back in the studio. That late autumn light in Blean Woods was quite something, here I’m focusing on the water carving its way through the woods peacefully, and how the colours of that time of year have tell the story of decay and natures preparation for the dark cold months ahead. Everything was brown, silver, or some shade of grey. Those bright green leaves really lift those upper sections of the pieces.