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I usually like to paint portraits and figures, and regularly jump from representational to almost abstract, and from very disciplined and precise to very gestural, to almost messy.
I find that painting myself is a good way to use the studio and hone my skills between other works. I often spend endless hours in front of the mirror painting or drawing intensively myself, as I am, to quote Lucian Freud, 'permanently available'.
Other times, I feel the need to become more abstract, and more intuitive, organising shape and colours with no specific aim. I am not trying to keep the two styles separate, nor am I trying to merge them, though both events can occasionally occur naturally.
I tend to put multiple layers on my paintings, and quite often a painting is finished only because I stop working on it (although there is always a possibility that I will work on it again in the future).
I welcome little accidents that can occur in the process, and try to use them to my advantage, sometimes even building the whole painting around them.
When I add a new layer, it is almost inevitable that I will scrape part of it off to reveal the previous layer, or even scrape the whole thing back. This process tends to reduce my pallet into grey muddy tones and sometimes demands more radical action such as rubbing raw pigment, cement powder, or other building materials like tile adhesive, onto the surface . This process gives me an instant dry surface which I can draw on, using a thick charcoal or a pallet knife.
Quite often I use photographs that inspire me for some reason, but I won't necessarily transfer the image directly to the canvas - they are merely the vessel that will initiate or ignite a painting, with the painting developing in to something independent of any emotional weight that may have triggered the initial reaction . My main aim is to explore how the painting is created in terms of structure, composition, colour and mark making, rather than focussing solely on what it represents.