Usually the creative process begins with an ideas sparked by any number of things like a weird looking tree, a beautiful flower, a wild creature doing something funny or a plant growing in the wrong place- and I ask myself why is it weird? What makes it beautiful? Why is it behaving like that? How is it growing there and why? A childish curiosity of perpetually asking why? How? What if? is at the heart of all my creativity. Maybe I never really grew up! Then a story emerges to answer these questions and usually a character and then finally an image.
Nature, wildlife, myth, fantasy and fairytale are at the heart of my work. Once an idea takes shape and an image emerges I begin sketching to get a rough copy of what is in my mind’s eye. Then I begin thoroughly researching the subject, looking in great depth and detail at all facets of the subject and sifting through what is relevant and what is not. Once I have gathered the information I need, I will return to my sketches and develop them further, including the relevant detail and adapting them. The final drawing is then put onto paper or canvas and then the layers of colours and line are worked on. I enjoy playing with optical mixing and glazes to add to the layers and depth of the work.
If, for example, I’m going to draw a fox, I want to know all about the fox. I want to know all about his likes, dislikes, his preferred menu, his interior design style! But most of all I have to know what he feels like. Is his fur coarse or soft? How do his joints work? What are his paws like? How sharp are his teeth and his claws?
I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting any foxes who will answer these questions or will let me poke them and prod them and so, unfortunately, I have to read about them or if I find a fox who has met his untimely end; I will poke and prod and move his legs to see how the joints work. I will feel his muscles and inspect his teeth. I will feel the weight of his tail. I will stroke and feel if his fur is coarse or smooth or both. I will sketch and take photos to aid my memory.
One painting can take months to complete and because of this I only produce a few originals a year. Fine draughtsmanship and quality is at the core of all my work. Where possible I prefer traditional methods of drawing and painting and enjoy researching and experimenting with old techniques, materials and mediums, then mastering them and incorporating them into my work.
I think this love of old methods and mediums developed from watching my father who was a bookbinder and sign-writer. As a child I would watch his processes and thought it was some form of magic: the way he could deftly place a piece of fragile gold leaf (that would turn to dust if I touched it) onto a book and then make it shine with agate stone was truly magical to me. I wanted to know how this magic was done!
I only the finest quality materials – Italian hot pressed paper, sable brushes, victorian ink nibs, and 24-carat shell gold. I can be exacting when it comes to producing a print too, and some of the detail cannot be replicated, meaning I have to hand embellish some prints. A unique feature of my work is the love heart that I hide within each piece and which represents where my art comes from: the heart.
Again, this passion for art and creativity came from my childhood. I would come home from school and the house would smell of linseed oil and turpentine. My mother was an oil painter and she would turn the kitchen into a studio. I came to associate those ‘art smells’ with home, with love, with fun. There were so many mediums, painting surfaces available to me -it was great to play and experiment- my parents were my teachers: they valued and nurtured my creativity.
Watch a quick time lapse of me at work, CLICK HERE.
I have been lucky enough to have developed a growing number of collectors and my work has made its way into private collections around the world. If you would like to purchase some of my work or join the waiting list for new original work then contact me directly or go to my art gallery, Wildwood Arts, where my work is on permanent display.
The website is www.wildwoodartsdartmoor.co.uk