Over the years, my art has become an intensely personal experience. I feel that any value it has for other people will most likely come from that. It is a way of placing myself in relation to my surroundings, to other people, and to my past. Only art can allow this dialogue with yourself, this way of working things out.
I enjoy many media: ceramics, photography, watercolour, and mixed media within sketchbooks – but principally oil paint and etching. I feel these two disciplines compliment each other and would never want to forfeit one for the other. Etching is wonderful in the sense that you can rework the plate until you are satisfied – deeper bite, burnish and scrape. In paint I have the luxury of greater and easier access to colour, larger works, and of course the enjoyment of pushing paint around.
I’ve always seen people around me as the subjects of art, either through the eyes of my favourite artists, or occupying one of my own pieces. My catalyst for turning properly to portraits was the 2006 Glitter and Doom exhibition of inter-war German art at the Met. I was struck by the humanity of this portraiture, the soul, and of course the zeitgeist of that time. Once again this influence became more personal in my own work, especially as I usually paint and draw my family – firstly because these are the available models, but also because these are people with whom I have deep relationships, and long histories.
In my view a successful portrait must be a successful work of art first, and this I would measure in terms of evoking and communicating emotion. This is the elusive and difficult thing to strive for. Then again, painting a portrait is usually quite a direct route to uncovering the emotions of both yourself and the sitter.