I think I must have been painting and drawing all my life. I remember daubing the wall by my cot one afternoon to my mother’s chagrin. There were painters in her family in Belgium and I was encouraged to emulate them, so I was forgiven. One of my earliest memories is of winning an art prize in Khartoum before my 9th birthday when I was sent back to England to be tamed. I painted at school and exhibited with one-man shows before I went to University and carried on doing so while allegedly studying Modern Languages. I changed course after my Part 1 to Architecture, where I met my wife. We married on graduation day. So I became an architect for many years, thinking I could paint in my spare time and in the meantime the bills would be paid. Instead it consumed all my creative energy. Painting was put aside except for once every few years.
All my ideas have a strong graphic base. I like to draw. My written notes of meetings with clients, other consultants and colleagues and emails I printed out were littered with little sketches –boredom has its uses - usually bound by a frame line. Sometimes I saved these sketches, tearing them out of the sheet, but mostly they were deleted when the notebook was completed and thrown away. They were simple, quick single line graphic notes that emphasised key shapes. I still draw that way. Shapes and the rhythms between them have always fascinated me.
Sometimes the idea is contained within the frame line, sometimes it breaks out. By drawing I can recall the essence of whatever it was that inspired the image. I use an A5 or A6 notebook, sometimes to transfer and develop these notes or sometimes to directly set down an idea. I can’t think on a bigger piece of paper. Size comes later.
I paint people, animals and landscapes, which, for some reason or the other, strike me as being emotionally significant. I call these charismatic moments. All my pictures start with something I have seen and wish to memorialise.
I used to paint on hardboard cut to golden section proportions. All right, that maybe something from Architecture! Nowadays I use commercially prepared canvases, which do not come in the same formats as the drawings, so when I decide to make a painting out of a sketch it gets transformed by new boundaries. It sounds corny, but there is a dialogue in my head as I ask the image how it wants to be and I watch it change.
I like to play in the resultant painting, grading or contrasting colours and textures as the image suggests. Colours can be varied by the texture of the brushstrokes with which they are set down. That means I can use a large area of flat colour but give it life through this texture. I disregard perspective, working in pictorial space. I am trying to eliminate the superfluous but at the same time hold onto serendipitous incidents.