The need to make sense of this world through painting began a long time ago. The oldest known cave paintings where more than 64,000 years ago. Why do I paint? I feel a deep need to communicate something. Something I can’t put into words.
Painting is my way of finding kindred spirits. When I look at art from the past, I realise I am not that dissimilar to my ancestors and painters of the past. Studying art from the past allows me to explore the many different ways that artists saw the world during their time. It helps me to broaden my perspective and understanding and allows me to see how today’s art records the present moment that we live now.
Although many people see painting as being based on traditional values and having a limitation in its ability to address contemporary issues, I believe that art offers the challenge of finding new meanings. I see art as a way of creating new insight and uniquely capturing people’s imagination. However some might see this view of painting as naive and believe that nothing is truly original in this postmodern society.
But for me, other forms of communication cannot compare with the excitement of art. They don’t come close to allowing me the opportunity to look in detail at interesting and unexplained concepts. As a painter I have unique relation to the world and I am interested in what I can discover through art.
I find myself drawn to expressing an alternative views of life through my art. I want to communicate what I see and explore what I can’t see. A pencil or paint helps me to digest and reflex what is taking place. I make work about the things I think need interpreting and understanding.
Through painting, I have a chance to investigate something that is evasive, beyond what can be explained in words. I continually ask myself what it is that I see. I try hard to identify what it is, as it continuously slips. It is utterly instinctive and for me the process of painting is addictive. I never get a chance to wonder what it would be like to do something other than painting because what l love about painting is that one can never undo the last mark.
I’m always hoping for improvement through my art. However, I realise that grasping the frightening clarity of the world is unattainable. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me coming back to the easle to try again. But the question always arises; have l finished, do I risk spoiling it by continuing or do I start a new painting? I love taking risks, as l try to unlock the world about me.
I have a deep down urge to try to master this form of expression which allows me to communicate my unique view. When I am painting I feel like I have found what I am here for. I get deep joy along with despair, anxiety and yet confidence. I feel more alive.
To achieve a successful painting like, ‘A section of ourselves as a commodified object’, I want to understand what it is I am really trying to make. I have a deep need to be creative and communicate something significant about what I see. I love painting, my ambition is to make the best painting I can make. For me, a transformative experience takes place at the level of the ordinary.
When evaluating a picture, it is interesting to consider that the essences of the surface is a pattern of colours, lines, texture, forms and space. Shape and form fit into the frame, as the structure of the painting creates a visual complexity. I find a dynamic placement satisfying and enticing as it encourages eyes to follow a predetermined direction.
Related posts, A section of ourselves as a commodified object
By turning figurative forms into a flat plane, I hope to make a visually engaging and attention holding painting. I am also creating a comment about how the abstract figure in the history of art is turned into a sign or symbol for market value. In effect, I recycle, reuse and take advantage of our human form and individuality for the commercialisation of the self and of our human identity.
My focus isn’t on financial gain. However, an artist, like everyone else, needs to make a living. I like the idea of art for art’s sake but a painting whether you like it or not turns into a commodity. As an artist, I live off what I make and of the form of others in my work.
I cannibalise the individual form into an image for commercial value. The commercialisation of the self and human identity de-humanises us. This is the reason why I paint a section of ourselves as a commodified object.
Compared to the various others ways to make a living this seems an honest and honourable one. I am not saying there is anything wrong with making a living from art or any other form of making a living. By trying to make the best painting I can, I wanted to look at this most fundamental part of the art. Looking at the deal that follows. The legacy of the history of art is its commercialisation.
I don’t have to sell my work, but there isn’t much point in making it unless other people see it. By getting to grips with all this, I hope to make the best painting I can make.
Related posts, A section of ourselves as a commodified object
When I was starting out as an artist, I was having trouble with feelings about the purpose of our human existence. I related to Karl Marx talking about the problems of consumerism and the alienation of labour. Marx stated that if you are cut off from the fruits of your work, then you are cut off from your creativity, and you lose your sense of self. This introspection on existentialism and the influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter as a creative outlet for my thoughts.
I realised I was happiest when I was making something. It needed to be something for me that doesn’t have the main aim of making money. I feel that this is one of the main problems with the western consumeristic society. People often lose connection with their output. They complete a task just to make money, just to survive. I believe the goal of making money causes psychological problems with our individual purpose and happiness.
Related posts: The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
During the process of making art, I feel the artwork becomes an extension of me. I get closer to my deeper self. Through painting, my purpose stretches out before me. I realised no one else can make another painting precisely the same. No-one else has my thoughts. This powerful idea that I am unique and I can communicate what I feel really resonates with my heart.
After learning about Francis Bacon at art school, and seeing Bacon’s work at several exhibitions in London, including his major retrospective at the Tate in 2008, I saw the way forward. I immediately related to his work and understood it. As Bacon puts it, “art is about trying to make something out of the chaos of existence.”
To enable me to communicate my feeling of angst and estrangement with the world, I realised I could paint the figure in the city. Since I grew up in the country, I found the city fascinating and it is where I felt increasingly heighten feelings of alienation.
Related links: The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
I was in a trance by the power of Bacon’s large canvases. Bacon depicted the complexity and chaos that was going on around me and inside me. His paintings focused on the invisible forces that underlie me. I strongly relate to the feelings of angst and disorientation.
I realised Bacon wasn’t only interested in directly painting a representation of life. He wanted to heighten the viewer’s feelings. His paintings were created by using raw instinct and chance. Often there is a single figure in Bacon’s paintings, the individual that creates a tremendous force that twists, contorts and stretches out. Bacon’s striking depictions stirred my emotions with the immediacy, and with the deep and lasting impact of his art.
I deeply related to Bacon’s paintings and felt painting was the perfect way I could communicate my thoughts. What I like about Bacon’s approach is that he is not trying to understand the human condition, Bacon realises he cannot. If he could explain it, there would be no reason to paint it. Bacon was instead trying to get you to feel what he feels. He portrays a figure, not as an educated, cultured, pillar of the community but instead as nothing but a raw piece of meat. It is direct, honest and compelling. Francis Bacon explains it eloquently, “the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” Francis Bacon had a tremendous impact on me. Inspiring me to follow in his footsteps and to become a painter.
Related posts: The influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter
When I started out on my journey, like most art students, my ultimate goal was to communicate what I see. I was inspired by other artist’s work. As a consequence, I wanted to make my own significant contribution to culture. When everything has been done before, to have any chance of achieving this goal, I realised it’s important to understand how to paint something original and unique. In this post, I discuss what I have uncovered on my artistic journey.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains his thoughts about his ‘10,000-hour-rule’ as, “the magic number of greatness.” Gladwell’s idea is that originality only comes after spending 10,000 hours mastering a subject. This rule makes a lot of sense to me. It is helpful as a guide to appreciating what it takes to paint something original.
I believe looking is the most essential part of being an artist, especially for a painter. Only after looking can you begin to realise what has been overlooked and then you can start to recognise what is already valued. Plus after reading about and viewing a lot of accomplished art you can start to understand the importance of making great art, and that originality is subjective. As I became aware of what art critics and sophisticated people thought l started to develop my own ideas about what was successful or unsuccessful.
Related post; What it takes to paint something original
This was the beginning of finding my own voice and my own unique visual ideas as an artist then an armed with a pencil, a blank sheet of paper and an open mind l can be transported to a place where ideas become instinctive, intuitive and spontaneous.
I realise I am more likely to stumble across originality when I am making and taking risks. Accidents from unintended footprints, coffee cups rings, photocopiers, spills and other accidents all have their place. They happen when I least expect them and I learn as much from these apparent failures as I do from successes.
Open creative sessions leave my thoughts uncovered and on display in their raw state and my ego is left aside. The energy and emotions in the preliminary drawings come from this outburst of freedom. They can be refined by repeating on another sheet. These ideas can be further explored and refined, but at that point, the conscious self comes back into the room. The work from open-ended creation sessions can often be more prized than the problem solving finished work that follows. Getting this balance right is an essential part of painting something original.
External link; What it takes to paint something original
After completing the preliminary studies l often don’t know the potential of the work. Often l store it away and revisit it at a later time. This time away helps me to realise and appreciate its potential. I am always hoping to find an appropriate form that brings everything together in order to discover something fresh and insightful.
Nevertheless, it is important to throw away what doesn’t work and quickly move on. This can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for an artist. New work can be a shadow or an echo of what the artist has seen or experienced before. Selecting, editing and reworking is an essential process that leads to originality. The artist’s studio is a place for demolition, revival and transformation.
Chuck Close, the New York painter, has this to say,
“We often don’t know what we want to do, but we sure as hell know what we don’t want to do. So the choice not to do something is often more important than the choice to do something.”
I have discovered that a problem creation process is much more effective in finding exciting and original ideas than a problem-solving approach.
Related post; What it takes to paint something original
My motivation as an artist has to do with my intense need to communicate something that only I can do or say. I have a meaning to fulfil through my work, and I am declaring that as an artist that I am responsible for finding answers.
Painting is the best way for me to communicate. I believe that painting and playing with form has the potential to capture the most important kinds of expression. I see it as a foundation for thinking itself and solving life’s complexities.
I’m interested in expressing the physical vigour of the human body in the city landscape as a means of exercising the freedom and dynamic expressions of space. Through my work, I am confident I can widen and broaden the visual field, thereby revealing a whole new spectrum.
The outcome of my work evokes a surprise and a revelation to me in much the same way as it does to the viewer. The finished painting is never good enough. In order to fill this gap, I have the motivated to make another piece of work.
Throughout my career, I have tested things out and applied my knowledge. What I learn I will share, from practical advice to techniques and any other information l think might be useful. I will be fighting in the trenches with you, explaining and demystify how an artist can support a creative life.
Related posts, What is my motivation as an artist?
When I saw Christo’s new art project in Hyde Park London and read his quote, “A work of art is a scream of freedom,” I know I needed to tell you about how I see art contributing to society.
Every artist contributes to society in their own special way. Artists look to find ways to engage the wider pubic through their work to consider and reconsider the way they see the world. Whether it is contributing to overall health and wellbeing of our society by rethinking about what we are doing and considering in new approaches or by providing inspiration, interaction and joy to uplift the spirit.
Being an artist for me is a licence to look deeply; to follow my curiosity, to unpick and to make new connections with what I see. We live on this small rock in a massive universe without an accurate understanding of what it is all about. I perceive making art as a form of therapy to open up the world and open up people’s minds to a higher spectrum. To deal with and come to terms with everyday life.
“The first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.” Chuck Palahniuk, American novelist and journalist
To my eyes painting is the best way to communicate and connect with others within a collective effort. I am not trying to convey the world as I see it. As an artist, I absorb it and try to communicate the world as it really is.
I have an intellectual curiosity and commitment to bring the truth to light. Through my art making, I want to be known for using my artistic creativity to widen and broaden the visual field. Therefore, reveal a whole new range of potential meaning.
There are many benefits of living in an exciting contemporary culture. I see myself as part of a community whose work can make a significant contribution to society and the world today. I want to contribute to human growth by joining into the conversation.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” John F Kennedy
Related blog post; how I see art contributing to society
Every day I paint I have an adventure into the unknown.
Every day I am excited by the possibilities in the work.
Every day I paint I enjoy the production of novelty the most.
Every day I paint, I decide what I want to work on the night before. My unconscious mind thinks and contemplates it overnight. The next day I effortlessly to know where to start.
Every day I paint I don’t make it overly complicated.
Every day I paint my studio has to be free from distractions so l can get into a creative flow and stay in it. I get completely caught up and saturated in what I am doing. The painting leads the way, my hand and brush are in control rather than my brain. I have a deep involvement with the activity and time becomes distorted.
Every day I paint, it is not clear what needs to be done. The solution is elusive and an accident. Only when I am in a flow of creativity, unconscious decision making takes place. I surprise myself and produce work I am happy with.
Every day I paint, I try to be satisfied when the work is complete. If I put unnecessary pressure and stress on myself and let my perfectionist outlook win, the results are never good enough to meet my standards.
Every day I paint I hope something good will come, but if it doesn’t I don’t worry. Whether it is good or bad, that really doesn’t matter. When I finish, I always turn the work towards the wall and quickly move on to the next task.
Every day I paint I consider the work from previous sessions and give myself feedback. This enables me to move forward. I have to decide which ideas can be developed and which direction to take and then l know what to work on during the next session.
Every day I paint I am unsure if I am getting anywhere. Often I take one step forward, two steps sideways and one backwards. Every little while I stop and look back. Over months and years rather than days I learn something new and l know l am growing as a painter and as a person.
Every day I paint I am not interested in money and fame. It’s the pursuit that counts, not the attainment. I always enjoy and have fun within the process.
Every day I paint I work towards achieving something meaningful. My lifelong ambition is to make a significant contribution to culture. In doing so, I hope to help the human condition.
Every day I paint I love what I do. I love the process of making art more than the work I produce.
As humans beings, we have an extraordinary ability to recognise an image and label it. A silhouette of a person is instantly recognisable. A two-dimension shape of the figure is not human, but we can read it as an image of a person. In the painting ‘Empire State of Mind’, I am interested in using this extraordinary ability to record and to explore the structure and nature of reality.
My new painting, ‘Empire State of Mind,’ has a lot to do with how my mind is working on and wondering about my instincts regarding perceptual information. I am trying to show and paint what I see. I’m not inventing but investigating how things look. I’m an image maker, painting the previously hidden nature of things. I receive an emotional response from an image as I discover an optical relationship and create a striking composition. I have stepped away from the conventional representation of reality in order to be competitive with it. The deeper I go into this practice of painting, the more mysterious it becomes.
Related links: The ideas behind, ‘Empire State of Mind’ painting
As an artist, my work is an extension of me. Each painting has its own interesting story to tell and I enjoy disclosing anecdotes of how the work came into being. A painting has its own power. When a striking artwork makes a connection and speaks to the viewer, it invokes a deeply personal relationship.
Everyone reads each piece of art differently. I find it very gratifying to discover how art lovers respond to my work. I love to hear different and engaging interpretations. I get an overwhelming feeling of happiness when I can see this connection occurring on a persons face as they light up.
Art is not about the potential value; what it costs or what it is worth. Art shouldn’t be seen a financial investment or a commodity. A vibrant, bold and skilful painting should bring pleasure and make you think. It should add an extra dimension to any room it is hung in.
Owning a piece of art is about looking at it and enjoying it. This emotional affinity creates a tremendous, heartwarming feeling. Once the purchase is made it becomes part of its owner’s life and integral to their home and their identity.
If you would like to hear more from me about my art, my influences and my journey as an artist, please sign up for my mailing list by clicking here.
I am acutely aware of the vital role of the Air Ambulance has in getting doctors to the scene of life-threatening emergencies and airlifting people to a hospital. I am also aware that the Air Ambulance exists only with the help and support of the local community. I have decided to combine this art exhibition with supporting the local community For this unique one-off exhibition l have also reduced my prices to allow more people to buy art. This art exhibition is more than just about me and my art, it is about giving something back, about supporting the community that l live in and the people l live with.
The paintings in this exhibition are from 2006-2017. The theme and ideas that have inspired this work are related to my emotional response as an individual to the city. This body of work started as a realistic interpretation of street photography. It captures feelings of alienation and angst in the human-made environment. However, the snapshots of life caught something that l wasn’t expecting. The fleeting moments of line, shapes, and space intrigued me, and I slowly became interested in this interrogation of space in the public realm.
This body of work finishes with the beginning of something new. The artwork moves past looking at the dislocation and fragmentation in our contemporary world to the mysterious and intriguing unknown entity of space. In this new direction for my work, I want to explore the existence of the space that enables everything else to exist. I want to draw the attention away from objects that people make, to the space around us, to create a portal to somewhere else.
I hope that by raising funds for the charity through selling my paintings, I can bring even more meaning to life through my art. Every £5 raised could pay for pressure dressings to control a patients bleeding. Every £10 raised could pay for enough fuel to fly 11 miles towards the nearest major trauma centre.
I hope you can help me support the local air ambulance charity.