WHAT TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD, IF ANY?
Graduated from Glasgow School of Art 1975
Worked in the design dept at BBC Scotland 1975 – 1979
PGCE in Art Teaching from Jordanhill College 1980
M.Litt in Creative Writing - University of Glasgow 2009
WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION / ARTISTIC INFLUENCES?
The danger in citing artistic inspiration/influence is that you might appear to compare your own art to those of the great artists or art movements.
As much as I love the great artists Botticelli, Da Vinci,Rembrandt, Rubens etc., it is really only their drawings that have had any kind of influence on me.
The first direct influences come after the rise of landscape as a major genre. So Constable and Turner, more their studies and sketches, and then the Impressionists – C.F. Daubigny, Sisley and Monet in particular, and then the Post Impressionists. Van Gogh has been a huge inspiration to me especially how he uses line and colour to animate every object and feature in his landscapes. Some critic said Van Gogh turns nouns into verbs so clouds are clouding, rocks are rocking, flowers are flowering, everything is full of action. A perfect description of his genius.
In Scottish art I love the work of The Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists and into the 20th Century Willie Gillies and Joan Eardley’s landscapes have inspired me. Among contemporary Scottish artists Barbara Rae and Tom and Duncan Shanks have influenced me.
The English 20thC landscape artists I most admire are John Piper and Ivon Hitchens.
A major influence in recent years has been the Canadian Group of Seven artists and their amazing blend of impressionist/expressionist/symbolist influences.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTISE.
I work mainly from sketches and photographs gathered on hikes in the countryside. I need the sketches for the quick, immediate, broad response to the subject and the photographs to supply more detail if required.I only rarely complete paintings en plein air, preferring to work in the studio from my gathered resources. This is because of my painting technique which involves a very abstract loose under-painting and often a lot splattering and dripping, like action painting, before I even begin to draw out the image.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
Because I love it! I love nature and I love art and I want to achieve that beautiful balance where line, form and colour capture what ever is unique about the subject, whether it’s the atmosphere, the land forms, or the play of light and shade.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE AN AUDIENCE TO TAKE FROM YOUR WORK?
The feeling I experienced when the subject grabbed my attention. The reaction where they think- I’ve seen that and I recognise that and he’s caught it beautifully in a way that no photograph or film ever could.He’s used line, colour and form to fix that image so that however often I look at it I keep discovering new aspects to it I wasn’t aware of before.
( I don’t want much!)
DESCRIBE YOUR PRELIMINARY PROCESS
I can’t work on pristine white grounds, so whether I’m working on board or paper I mix up jars of bright liquid acrylic colours and flood them on to the surface and let them flow and blend at random, only occasionally using a big brush to tease out colour combinations I think are interesting. Then it takes 24hrs for this under-painting to dry before I can move on to the next stage.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR STUDIO
I always work on three or four paintings at any one time and try to bring them on together. If I get to a sticking point in one painting,where I’m not sure where to go next, I move on to another and hopefully when I return to
the painting that had me stumped I suddenly see what to do.Somehow, magically in the break the problem resolves itself. The rule is never force it, it’s always a disaster.