Manx Artist in Cornwall
What I paint
A cliché: I really enjoy painting people and animals. My preference is for the subject to be in a working environment, or alternatively just not looking staged. For me it’s really important to have an emotional response to what I’m going to paint - and I think it’s probably true (okay, definitely it’s true!) to say I am hugely interested in a wide range of things. Bringing that curiosity and excitement into my work I think is really important for communication with the viewer.
Why I paintI paint to share what I feel about something. It might be the agility and focus of a working sheepdog, or the awesome courage and teamwork of a horse and rider clearing a big hedge. The more I paint, the more I feel that none of us actually see the world the same and it is a special joy to find that a painting I’ve done can form a bond of communication with someone.
How I paint
My preferred medium is either charcoal for drawings or oil on stretched canvas/linen. I can’t really comment too much about charcoals – my favourite stopped being made some years ago – but I generally use willow charcoal for my initial drawing and then build up the image using soft charcoals.
For painting, I mostly use Winsor & Newton artists’ quality paints, although I also use some Old Holland, for colours like Kings Blue, which is a favourite. Most artists use a restricted palette but I first started painting in oils with a large number of paints out, my rule of thumb: "if it isn’t out, you can’t use it." It’s a habit I would like to break – probably tomorrow. My paintings tend to be built up in layers, possibly with a tonal underpainting if there’s good contrast in the image, and then slowly adjusting the painting as I work around the whole canvas, developing it as a whole. To concentrate on a particular passage, I may work with the canvas upside down or on its side if I am working off reference photographs, as it can help me concentrate on what is really there, rather than what I’d expect to see. Not quite so useful when painting from life.
I normally prefer to work with three or four paintings on the go at any one time, ideally each at a different stage of progression to suit my mood on any given day, and of different subject matter to keep each one fresh.