New Paintings – May 2008
This most recent series of paintings is the result of a conscious effort to push the work in new directions. The most obvious difference from the previous series is the inclusion of a variety subjects — interior spaces, architectural and mechanical elements, still life and figures are all beginning to make their way into the images. More importantly from my perspective is a shift in consciousness — in the way I am looking at, and seeing, the world around me. I seem to have all but abandoned the former Romantic veil through which I looked at my subjects for a much more practical, straightforward approach. I am working much more directly from photographs in the new work, and actually striving to retain the feeling of the snapshot in the final image. I still work at stripping away extraneous detail to get to the heart of the subject, but have allowed myself the luxury of including more information in the new images, thereby defining the spaces in a much more real way.
I am often asked about the various marks or "flashes" that appear in my paintings. It's not always easy to explain why a particular flash appears in a particular painting at a particular time! Very often the addition of a fleck of colour or a scratch or a scribble is purely instinctual -- it's something that just happens as I am in the process of developing a work, something that my subconscious tells me just needs to be there. I think there are probably a number of reasons why this happens, and I'll do my best to try and explain...
One purpose for the marks is as a point of focus. My paintings tend to be quite atmospheric and indistinct, with a deliberate lack of detail. My goal is to provide as much information in a painting with as little specific detail as possible. These unexpected marks are often a means of strengthening a composition, or providing visual interest without bogging the image down with unnecessary details.
My paintings of the land are not landscapes in the traditional sense. By this I mean that they are not intended to be paintings of a specific place. I see them more as plans or sketches for places that have yet to be created. In this context, I see the various marks that appear in my paintings as notations, providing information about the structure of the land, similar to notations found on an architect's blueprint. At times they can refer to specific ideas such as the positioning of a tree, the flight path of a bird, or the direction of a blade of grass. At other times they appear to be simply what remains of the preliminary sketch for the landscape itself.
From a purely practical perspective, the various marks found on the surface of my paintings are little visual "hooks" that grab the viewer's attention. On first glance, my images tend to look quite traditional, but on closer inspection the perceptive viewer will often notice any number of unexpected marks: dashed lines, arrows, and flashes of colour, words, numerals and other marks scratched into the surface of the painting. My hope is that these marks will cause the viewer take a second look at the image, rather than dismiss it as 'just another landscape.' I would hope this might cause them to ask questions about the image, and possibly come to their own conclusion as to what they feel the marks might mean.