The art movement that motivates me most is that of the Abstract Expressionists, in particularly the work of Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. The British painter Humphrey Ocean RA talks about black being the greatest colour in the world. My current paintings feature big, bold brush strokes in black acrylic. They become the backbone, or spine of the paintings on which to hang the colours which are in oils. Black is essential to all my work.
My recent paintings are landscapes within an overall abstract landscape, exploring a sense of place, of interconnections both fleeting and rooted, of landscapes seen and also of the invisible world. Brought to the surface with the energy of the brush, my paintings are spontaneous, resulting from a boiling pot of themes or concerns and social commentary is very often at the fore in my work. I paint onto the canvas directly from the tube and my process is spontaneous, automatic, or subconscious in its creation, working partly accident, partly by design and the title always comes last.
The ultimate aim in my manifesto is to create a shared space with each piece of work, one where the viewer can contemplate the title, a springboard for thought or discussion. Very often my themes focus on eternal subjects, which are infinitely renewable.
Drawing has always been an important discipline in my working practice and essential for honing the eye on details, which may later be discarded to allow for a bigger picture to immerge. I usually have some watercolour drawings on the go and make time to travel out in the field recording my environment (the forest, the sea or the woods), as inspiration and a palette on which to draw on for the larger paintings.
As a portrait artist, Rembrandt, David Hockney, Pablo Picasso and Lucien Freud, plus the portrait drawings of Hans Holbein, influence me. I find the compositions of peer artist Jake Wood Evans ethereal oil paintings really interesting. With my portrait work I work from life, drawing directly onto the canvas after which I create an opposing abstract background.
One of the most influential lecturers at Leeds, to my mind, was painter and sculptor, George Hainsworth. He taught me that you needed courage as an artist to break away from the mould. There always needs to be an element of fear in making work. I have never stopped experimenting with different mediums and practices. These are the drivers in my work.