A self-taught artist living in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, I work mainly in water miscible oils, watercolour and graphite pencil. I have used a variety of media in the past including acrylics, paper mache and textiles but over recent years, as I have sought a real authenticity in my art which reflects me and the way I like to work, I am becoming more focussed.
I am particularly drawn to landscape forms which tell the story of the land, revealing whispers of its history. Many of my works include rocks or stones representing the solidity below but also the shaping and sculpting by years of weather and wear. I love big skies that give us permission to breathe deeply and I love the bright colours of joy shared in the delight of the landscape. When I need space and calm there is nothing better than driving up to the hills for walks on the ‘scruffy’, rough and wild moorland spaces near my home.
I sometimes work en plein air but, because the types of landscapes I prefer to paint often take some walking to reach and are frequently secluded, I use a lot of photos for reference, sketches done on site, and the experience of ‘being there’. Back in the studio, each painting begins with several sketches as I explore my memories and the different contours of the land. They are then built up in layers to express shape, form and texture, often taking several weeks to complete until I am satisfied that I have told a chapter of its story and my engagement with it.
Over recent years I have been exploring more what it means to have a ‘visual voice’ and what my visual voice could be. I have explored what it means to have ‘authenticity’ in my art where the art I produce fully expresses what is important to me, what gives me great joy and is something that I want to share with others. I feel I am now producing work that is from the ‘real me’ and expresses something that I feel deeply inside that can’t be fully expressed with words.
Quite unplanned I discovered water miscible oils provide me with a way I really love to paint. Some people call them water soluble but apparently water miscible is the more correct term – it means that I can wash my brushes out with water and sometimes use very small amounts of water to thin the paint for the initial layers, or mix a small amount of water with oil painting medium as I build up the layers. There is no nasty smelling or harmful chemicals involved so the practicality of painting with these oils is great (except en plein air in British weather where I have experienced runs in the painting following a brief downpour!). Using oils allows different painting techniques due to the blending, layering and glazing properties which really suits me in how I like to build up the layers of the narrative of the land.
I also really love how paint moves and reacts in watercolours and particularly like the line and wash approach, both in outdoor sketching and in the studio.
And finally I also love the calming and almost meditative effect of sketching detail with graphite pencil with more emphasis on tonal ranges. There is nothing like a quiet evening spent with a photo exploring all the shapes in great detail, revisiting memories of previous visits.
All three approaches allow me, as an artist, to have a full expression of my visual voice communicating what I find captivating and exhilarating!