Marine mammal intervertebral disc and seabird bones arranged on drawing table

Art Practice

Painting

Painting must be a process of exploration, both for the artist and the viewer. Paul Klee said “Art does not render the visible, it makes visible.”

Painting may be about many things, a landscape, a portrait etc. but it is also, importantly, about paint. In a late Rembrandt self portrait he appears, emerges from the paint surface. The paint is in itself a form of creative energy.

My paintings are usually made over a period of time, reworked, overpainted – changed. Sickert once said “keep on working in readiness for the time when the deaf canvas listens.” I would take that further, I wait for the painting to start talking to me.

I wrote in 1984 on the painting Elegy for Graeme Buchanan “It is important to me because I found ways of putting down with paint my sadness at Graeme’s death, and the loss of a talented musician, that feeling of finding a way of responding to the tragedy in a positive, creative way”.

I see my painting as a dialogue between the delights of landscape and the fascinations of abstraction, with comments from music, poetry and the joy of living.

Drawing

I have always drawn. Drawing was an essential part of my art training and I taught life drawing at the art school in Hobart.

I love the simplicity of drawing, a piece of charcoal between the fingers and the responsive surface of a sheet of paper. Gradually the image is built up, mark by mark, line by line.

I usually start with a reference point, a shell, a bird’s skull or a piece of driftwood, sometimes two objects and the space between them. As I work the image gradually reveals itself and begins to assume a presence. Then comes the time when the reference is abandoned and the imagination takes over. It is then that the drawing develops a life of its own, incorporating the original object but going beyond it. The process of building a drawing allows time for the imaginative to fuse with the objective, it is that interaction between the real and the unknown that makes drawing so fascinating.