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My Use of Paint


Since I first began painting, many years ago, I have been fascinated by the discrepancy between a painted colour and the same colour in nature. The blue of the sky is no more described by a single colour than a book would be by a single word. What we see is a complication of colours that make up an area and this we describe as blue; anyone who has picked up a paintbrush and daubed light blue on a canvas knows that this does not make a sky.


My first way of getting around this was to use washes of watercolour and gouache, building up a complicated colour by layers of colour. The principal limitation of this technique is that it needs to be displayed under glass as the slightest moisture would move the paint, even years later. This meant that areas of intense colour were prone to becoming mirrors if there was a light behind the viewer.


To avoid this, and for the strength of colour it offered, I went over to painting acrylic on canvas. Size was now no longer a problem but the application of layers of paint accentuated the plastic quality of the acrylic. That's when I started experimenting with a textured surface.


As you can see from the photo, which is a tiny section of a larger painting, this offers the chance to paint the 'hills' of the surface with one colour while another floods the valley. Close-up, the variant in colour is apparent but as you step away the two meld together into a single, but ephemeral, whole.

To my mind, the main thing that differentiates a good abstract from a mediocre one is the use of form. In a realist painting this is achieved by shadow, perspective and colour recession (going to the blue as things get further away). With an abstract this is more difficult but when it works the effect is incredibly powerful; one has only to think of Mark Rothko's work, which are often described as 'monumental'. In moving away from abstract landscapes I have in no way moved away from the recreation of land and form; everything I do is about both of these.


I have simply removed the lines

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