All painting is figurative in the sense that it’s made by and is therefore a revelation of the human physique and psychology. The subject of painting is to consider what it is to be here, now.
Technological advances make no difference to our need for spirituality; the path of discovering and exploring our authentic individual nature. Painting fulfils this need.
So painting is portraiture, but also encapsulates the vast expressive potential of the psyche and senses of the human being. It’s rich in pure visual sensation but also the drama of relationships and architecture, metaphor, allusion, illusion and the whole gamut of human emotion.
Painting doesn’t need to illustrate the world or create internal narratives. Painting is already the embodiment of a deep and rich narrative which is that of the life of the artist; the place and the manner in which they live and the infinite decisions they make guided by a philosophy of life developed over deep tracts of time. This narrative has value, meaning and use to others. Painting becomes a tool by which the viewer explores and navigates their own self in relation to their own life.
Painting reveals to the artist and the viewer a particular sensibility through which the physical and psychological landscape surrounding the artist is filtered. The clear implications of this for artists is the necessity to be careful about where and particularly how they live as everything that is nurtured by the artist in the cradle of their sensibility will metamorphose, butterfly-like, into their particular art.
Garden painting by Patrick Heron
It’s important to me that my painting is rooted in a deeply considered ideology and in the real world outside the studio and most definitely not in some art conceptual context. My deliberately chosen environment is the country and this is the real and metaphorical pasture on which it grows. The brutal deadening mechanical rhythms of urban experience are soul destroying. The metropolis is a false idol.
I’m for an art inspired by sunflowers, water lilies, a “Zennor Storm”, an “Autumn Rhythm”, an “Azalea Garden”, a “Door to a River”.
Door to a River by Willem de Kooning
The specific characteristics of my painting style are intended to reflect my belief in the need to focus on the intense joy of the sublime sensuality of daily phenomena. For me there’s no place for the tragic. The only purpose of painting and art is to provide answers, inspiration and direction. Being an artist is a privilege and dwelling on the tragedy in our lives leads only to a sense of futility. The moment here, now, being so brief demands appreciation and celebration.
The experience of pleasure in our world is the issue of most profound importance. The sensuality of sensations is at the very core of our spiritual nature. Both love and appreciation are embedded in sublime pleasure and this combination is the essence of our morality. It motivates us, creating a sense of care. Pleasure creates our sense of value.
For me, the fundamental purpose of painting is to explore, express and act as a tribute to that value
White over Red by Mark Rothko
Spirituality was thought to be not of the flesh, not physical, not here, not now. I think the opposite. There is no distinction between physical and spiritual. They are one united thing. The making of a physical thing by hand, such as a painting is simply the manner in which we embody, our spirituality; the physical and psychological expression of our physical and psychological, divine experience. A painting then, is an embodiment of a spiritual proposition, an icon, free of religious constraint, a testament to our creativity, able to express our awe and wonder at the extraordinary, miraculous sensuality of our daily experiences of touch, taste, sight and sound.
This is its spiritual strength and value .
Ceramic by Jean Nicolas-Gerard
A potter crafts a bowl and beaker with his hand for the user to hold. The cook slices, peels and mixes for the diner to cut, fork and spoon. Musicians know rhythm and pick, pluck and beat to its irresistible internal imperative, while the dancer gestures with elegance and grace. The gardener digs and sows and plants. What we do by hand is always rich in emotion, experience, knowledge, ambition, spirituality and absorption in this particular time and place. At the centre is always the heart, hand and mind.
Garden at Great Dixter by Christopher Lloyd
There’s something both very humble and yet very profound in the activity of making a painting. It requires the setting aside of the individual ego, to let the painting emerge. Its a hand made object and is therefore a craft. When the artist begins he is incapable. Ability, that we later call skill, is hard won over many years of trying but eventually emerges triumphantly as a clear unique voice. It’s during this age of trial that painting becomes endowed with the unique character of the artist. The philosophy that directs their daily life eventually emerges as chosen colours and chosen forms. Human personality is revealed not just in brush strokes and gestures but in every decision in every act involved in the making of the painting. Therefore a finished painting is a philosophical statement. The simple act of mixing pigment from the earth to brush onto a simple surface is an ordinary humble artisan task but as we use this simple craft to describe the earth and our lives here, it gains an extraordinary metaphysical value.
In this, painting and the eternal quest for beauty, still stands as one of the most exciting, rebellious, last bastions that offer balance to technology, industrialisation and the corporate world. I’m most definitely not a corporation and I don’t make a product. A corporate approach to progress requires clarity, predictability, repetition and is essentially mechanical. For an artist painting is tied into the very fabric of their life so their work develops and changes in a manner that echoes the growth of individual personality; sporadic, unpredictable and entirely natural. This is what we define as authentic .
So this is the meaning and value of my paintings. They’re a self portrait but also a portrait of us all and the hard won, hand made embodiment of a spiritual proposition. They’re the written narrative of a life and a pronouncement of a long developed philosophical consideration that we might live in awe and appreciation of the astonishingly vibrant, rich and romantic sensuality of the here and now.