Posted on Tue 22 Mar 2016
One of the most satisfying things for me, as a painter, is to have a subject or recurring theme in my work that I seek out wherever I go. For me, it is the depiction of water in watercolour, as it provides a consistent challenge.
My paintings are concerned with landscape, both in broad expanse and close-up detail, and express both the dramatic and subtle ways that light transforms a subject. My plein-air work involves a camera, a sketchbook, an awful lot of walking and many hours of observation, but I regard myself as a studio painter.
Some find it odd that, with a passion for watery subjects, especially the sea, I live about as far away from the coast, in Staffordshire, as you can get. The way I look at it is that I am roughly equidistant from each edge! If I lived in Cornwall, for example, how often would I go to Northumberland?
In recent years I have developed a passion for painting very large watercolours – well over a metre – that I paint over several days in the controlled environment of my studio. Prior to starting one of these big pictures I spend many hours researching my subject, its history and geology. This involves sketchbooks and photographs, seeking out my composition, colours, methods and techniques until I have a plan.
My paintings are not a first response to a subject; they are a build-up of a representation of a sense of place, with a specific remembered light, mood, colour and atmosphere that I wish to convey. My approach embraces both representational and abstract elements and I try to push the character of the paint to extremes.
Reveal, pure watercolour, (103x133cm) (see below).
Here we get a glimpse of a 6000bc petrified forest in Pembrokeshire that was engulfed by the sea after the last ice age. Remnants of branches, roots and tree trunks are visible at very low tides. Due to its rare appearance it was essential to work quickly with a camera and sketchbook.