I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have added ten new paintings to the ‘Nature’ section of my website. They include the one above, which I only did last week, and others that I have been working on largely this year. I was keen to develop this side of my work, particularly after the large group portraits I was commissioned to do last summer for Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College, which was very challenging. Indeed, the first painting I did after that commission was ‘Spring’, a very energetic painting which was an attempt to just paint much more freely and expressively after the control and stressful conditions I had had to work with on the portraits. I painted most of it flat on the floor.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, my painting practise over the last few months has been very much informed by the experience of seeing my brother’s condition worsen as he suffered from cancer and eventually died. The motifs of flowers and trees have taken on an increasingly powerful resonance for me and became important metaphors for some of my feelings and experiences. Of course, it is a theme that has traditionally been used by artists for centuries to explore issues around the fragility of life, loss and death. Interestingly, I didn’t really look at this tradition again. My initial motivations behind the images were always more formal ones, as they usually are, to do with different ways of painting, exploring compositional elements, and trying to push the work into newer territories. It just inevitably rose to the surface as I developed the work. It could be seen as quite clichéd a theme, but for me it just felt very real and ‘right’, making you realise where these things come from. As the months went on I have worked with a heightened compulsion I’ve not felt for a long time, which seemed to disappear almost as soon as Stu passed away. Some of the paintings are only just begiining to make some sort of sense sense now. I think the act of painting itself has just given me a space to explore and work through difficult feelings, and this in itself has been really helpful. Like a good friend. The artist Maggi Hambling has often said that the relationship you have with your painting must become like that of a best friend, which is something I have always really liked, and now more deeply understand.
That is some of the background to the work. At the end of the day, the paintings have to stand alone and exist on their own merits. I’m currently looking into venues to try and exhibit them as a body of work in a solo show next year sometime. I hope you find them interesting, and any comments are always welcome.