Life wriggles around and if you are lucky, as I have been, it is quite interesting. Painting hasn’t been a way to fame or fortune but very importantly, it has given me a way to counteract the vicissitudes of life.
I was fortunate to be educated in the years when self-expression was encouraged and the freedom I had had at school continued when I arrived at the Fine Art Department at Newcastle University in the early sixties. That is apart from the very structured first year which, to some extent, followed the basic principles of the Bauhaus.
I have never forgotten the week dedicated to dropping a piece of string and then drawing it on a large sheet of paper because on day three our tutor, Richard Hamilton, rebuked me for not concentrating and I knew he was right!
The following three years brought complete freedom which could be very tricky at times as I tried different mediums including sculpture and printing. One year, one of my sculptures was selected for the Northern Young Contemporaries, in Manchester with a good review……in the Times. I don’t think I realized how lucky I was at the time!
Finally, I left Newcastle with my BA Hons. in Fine Art!
I hope you will be drawn to the visual impact of my paintings and that they will hold your gaze long enough for you to wonder what is going on. Most have the hint of a story, so the titles are important. For me, painting is a process of digging, of having an idea which is personally meaningful, and then playing around with it for months until I find visual coherence.
Recently I came across some letters which I had written as a student. In one I remarked that I was ‘still bashing away at the same painting’. In another, I commented how my tutor noticed that I had worked through 4 or 5 paintings on one canvas. I don’t seem to have changed much. However, it is only in the last few years that I have fully appreciated how rewarding it can be to struggle with a painting. There is usually a clear starting point, which might be an idea and a colour, but the final result may be very different from the initial imaginings.
Fortunately, the medium of oil is very accommodating and despite everything, I feel that I have occasionally produced something meaningful.