I have decided to begin blogging. At some point I may decide to continue blogging, possibly even at regular intervals, but for now the decision to begin feels like enough.
I’ll begin with the question I get asked the most: Why paint animals and flowers? And which do you prefer of the two?
Why paint animals and flowers?
I chose to focus on animals and flowers relatively recently having enjoyed painting and drawing almost everything for years. My art used to contain more human figures and I will probably return to that at some point. More recently I felt I needed to focus more and to make work in a more coherent way, rather than dancing randomly from topic to topic (although, this is still what my brain insists on doing from day to day).
One of the reasons for focusing on animals and flowers is that I wanted to create something that people could connect with, enjoy and feel comfortable talking about. Art is a form of communication and it’s difficult to communicate if you are using a different language to the people around you. I live in the rural county of Suffolk so a lot of what I paint is informed by my surroundings. A good painting can expand both the artist and the audience’s visual vocabulary. My work is figurative so there’s normally something there that can start a conversation (sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically*).
I have a strong sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world and the plants and creatures I encounter here in the UK. This seemed like a great place to focus when I decided to concentrate on taking my art more seriously again a few years ago.
Behind the scenes there is a lot going on in my head that may not be discernible in the final paintings but nevertheless informs them. In some ways, it’s not so important whether or not people read the same things as me into what I paint, but it helps me have direction to know where I’m coming from.
So for the curious among you, here are just a few of the strands of thinking behind the work I make.
Thoughtfulness and depth of learning and understanding are things that can be hard to achieve in a world dominated by social media. For me, painting is the ultimate mindful act, connecting my mind, body and the subject so it’s important I feel a connection to the thing I am painting. (Yes, I know I obsessively painted avocados last year but I felt really, really strongly about them at the time!).
Sometimes, the strength of feeling is about the thing I’m painting and sometimes it’s about the act of painting itself and the creation of line, form and texture.
Whilst my obsessions vary, I hope you can tell by now that I really, really love painting. The curse of over-thinking and the gift of constant curiosity does however mean that focusing on only one thing is never quite enough.
You may be beginning to guess the answer to the second part of the question: which do I prefer painting: flowers or animals?
Which do you prefer painting: flowers or animals?
The honest answer is, I really can’t say. There are days when I am completely and utterly obsessed with painting the delicate petals of a flower and nothing else will do. On other days I can’t feel satisfied with any work unless it contains the intensely soulful eyes of a cow or the dynamic presence of a chicken strutting across the ground. Then there are the days when only lemons will do! (Those are normally good days).
I do admire artists who have carved out a niche for which they are renowned but I feel restrained if I do just one thing for too long. I need my paintings to keep me interested, which means the subject matter can be quite different from one thing to the next. Plus, there always has to be room for that special moment when a painting impulse happens and I simply have to capture the thing that won’t get out of my mind.
Whatever the subject, it always connects back to what is important to me; a connection to and empathy with the world around me.
Thanks for reading
I hope that this has given those who are interested a little insight into my work and thoughts. If there are any questions you have, observations you wanted to make or blog topics you would like to see in the future, please feel free to leave a comment below.
*On writing this it occurred to me that in art ‘figuratively’ means to paint something in a very realistic way: a literal representation. In language, ‘figuratively’ means almost the opposite - not being literal, but being metaphorical or abstract. Language is almost as much fun as painting sometimes. Almost.
View all animal prints available to buy
View all flower prints available to buy