I have a great interest in science and how it relates to the living world. This includes plants, animals, humans and the landscape we live in. I believe that most people are too busy with the worries of life to stand back and see what beauty really exists on this earth. An uplifting painting in someone’s home can help remind them of the wonders that life has to offer.
There is an abundance of information, written and electronic, about wildlife in all its forms, but really you need go no further than the eyes of your family pet to know that there are other souls on this earth besides humans. Sentience or self-awareness is all around us. There are many abilities and forms of intelligence. We don’t have to anthropomorphise animals; they are who they are; but who they are can be amazing! I want people to appreciate how wonderful the living world is; I want them to cherish and protect it. I want them to respect and love God’s handiwork and to preserve it for the future.
I work mostly in acrylics, and usually this means Liquitex Professional soft body. Acrylics are easily thinned without the use of toxic chemicals, which means they lend themselves to detailed work; they dry quickly and are very good for glazing. Also there is a good pigment load, which lends itself to vivid coloration.
Before I start painting I spend a lot of time thinking about a picture. I aim for a hyper-realistic painting. This means that the picture has to be a little larger than life. The composition must be good and the pose of the animal must be just right; also the background also must be correct. Sometimes that means putting the animal in its setting and at other times it means leaving things simple so that the animal itself stands out as the main feature of the painting.
The next step is to gather the reference photos. These have to be good and clear with accurate coloration so that I know just what the animal should look like. Having done that I can then break the rules and put a little of myself into the work; after all if all you wanted was a clear image of the animal you might just as well hang a photograph on the wall. Next I have to make sure that I have permission to use any reference materials. I am constantly developing relationships with good wildlife photographers in order to facilitate this.
The next job is to decide what techniques to use. I like to put textures into the paintings and this can mean using acrylic sculpting medium or sand or other things such as salt. It can also mean painting up to five layers of fur. I do this in white and then glaze each layer with a different colour to give depth. Each time I do a painting I like to attempt something I have never done before as this helps me to keep learning. Art is a very big subject and I don’t think I will ever know everything.
I find that the best way to approach a painting is to relax and take my time; I am never satisfied with the result if I have rushed. This means carefully checking the details and particularly making sure that the shading is right because this is what makes the work three dimensional
I want the audience to have an emotional reaction to my work; I aim for a wow factor; I want them to know or at least to wonder what the animal is thinking about. If I can do that then I know I have brought life to the subject. I also like to achieve some interaction between the viewer and the painting. Often I am pleased to see people stroking my work. I feel that my paintings should be as all round an experience as possible.