Methods

Most paintings - and all recent ones - are shown entire with an opportunity to examine details (click on the link beneath the title) and enable you to get close up to the paint surface: important because technique and textural quality give paintings their uniqueness. With imagination you can extend this over the whole painting.

Because of drying problems associated with the paint I've used for many years - something that has baffled even the manufacturers - I have adapted my technique from what someone once called "vigorous and disturbed impasto" to a more pasted approach. You may agree with me that the surface quality has not been compromised; different but no worse, in fact I'm finding the process rewarding: an interesting diversion down an unexpected byway. Detours often lead to mysterious places, and Devon itself is full of them.

Work is mostly based on reality - "objects interrupting light", as my mentor the great painter Henry Israel used to insist.

Portraits, landscapes and figure studies provide the rigour and discipline necessary to impregnate paintings and fuse the elements. The very act of painting is a magical business, an alchemy. It continually throws up new possibilities and problems, both stark and subtle.

Titles often contain clues to the germ of a painting and I've added further comments about the genesis of many where these seem important. Sometimes they are very personal, and I've found that a piece of music or even a lyric in a song can impact on the process of painting. Just my thoughts, and every viewer sees every painting differently. All a so-called artist can do is hope that some thoughts coincide, that some experiences are common, and that the quality of work speaks for itself.

Tools

I use brushes very infrequently, my preferred tools are square-ended knives, with which I can do most of what I want. Kept clean with a wipe of a rag and keeping the colours truer to what I seek.

I discovered them when running an art shop in Cornwall. A very refined elderly chain-smoking gentleman came in one day and asked if I could get him one of these knives. "Without it I'm dead," he said. This remarkable gentleman was Rene Halkett, the last surviving member of the German Bauhaus and a student of Paul Klee et al. We became good friends and I managed to get him the knife and also one for myself, which I've used ever since. I think I now know what he meant by that rather dramatic statement.

Although canvas is lovely to paint on, and I do, a life devoted to ecology and recycling has encouraged me also to prey upon 'supports' discarded by a wasteful society, thus many paintings are of 'odd' (non-standard) dimensions which used to annoy my agent and her frame-making partner. But for me, this is far from a problem.

When I buy a painting or study one closely, I always want to see the back as much as the front for their lies much its uniqueness, and clues to its origin and the maker's idiosyncrasies. It's quite disappointing to find a painting on a prepared canvas from a cheap pound shop. This does happen but in my case always as the result of a gift unless it's a rush job for some reason.
Paintings should be as individual as children.

Frames are the clothes these children wear, and I prefer to clothe them myself whenever possible, which has the added advantage of keeping prices down.

Prices

The prices quoted on the website tend to be guides only. I often give a painting away if I feel the person is needy in some way or has fallen in love with it. I'm always happy to negotiate a price. But one collector objected when I offered a second painting at a reduced price. She said, “You have to understand, if we can't do it ourselves, this is our way of taking part, of contributing.” And I've never forgotten that.

But I've found it a nigh on impossible thing pricing a work of art, and have never found a way of doing it successfully: do you take into account, size and time? That doesn't work for me although I know many do it this way.

For me the only way really is intuitive: how successful, how important, is it one of a series, how personal is it, what was its origins etc. All ephemeral.

There is now the added complication of gallery prices versus one's own. Galleries for perfectly valid reasons do not like to be undercut, and yet they take virtually 50% of the wall price. If a painter selling direct were to use their prices, the paintings would be overpriced. One has to find a compromise, and that also can be nigh on impossible. What tends to happen is you ask a gallery for the price you want and then they stick on their commission.

Better, in my view, is to say this is the price the customer pays and then the gallery subtracts its commission. Everyone's happy, except the painter!

 

View all Galleries