I have never been happy with completely representational work, I can however, appreciate the level of skill which goes into such work and for many it is the only way to go.
I started to paint more loosely when experimenting with still life and water-based oils.....they are very flexible and allowed me to move to palette knives. Working with knives immediately gives you a tool where you are able to experiment with less detail and a more 'loose' style.
I now do not use brushes at all and only use pallette knives for mixing paint. I work with card, bubble wrap, rollers anything which I feel is appropriate.
Often I am influenced or inspired by the work of other artists – it may be something very small but a starting point for a new development in my own work. The new influence could be colour, media, scale, subject matter style, almost anything whether an artist from the past or contemporary work.
I never seem to have any trouble wondering what to paint. If I see something - a poster, postcard, or a view - I will keep the image for later use in a painting or as part of a painting. I usually work from my own observations, photographs or en plein air. Subject matter varies.....still life, townscapes, seascapes whatever has recently inspired me though I tend to have 'phases'.
A painting may start with inks, collage or rollers to keep it loose. Then add I may add a few lines and blocks of structure, working from the background out to the final details. At the end I am only putting in a line, a reflection, a shadow or a little detail. I work in ink, gouache, acrylic, oils, tempera, collage or anything which I feel is appropriate for the work. Very rarely do I use brushes.
I have a several sketch books for experimenting, an old photograph albums which I picked up in a charity book shops are really useful. I can try out techniques, colours or any development which I might want to experiment with before using it on a piece of work. Playing with materials and techniques is very satisfying and often leads to unexpected results.
Lastly, I must be pleased with the work myself or it is not good enough.