This is not to say that I don’t look at other artists work or know my art history. I have the requisite years of art school lectures under my smock and rarely miss an exhibition at the Tate St Ives, but I do feel like I have been working in isolation from the contemporary art world. So to return to the question, it is simply that I don’t draw parallels between my own work and any body elses. Nor can I honestly say I have consciously been influenced by other artists work; I love the graphic quality of William Scott’s abstracts, Ben Nicolson’s stark white reliefs and Mark Rothko’s emotional expanses of colour, but have never had the urge to try and paint something in a similar style. In fact in the last couple of years I seem to have drawn more inspiration from looking at potters than painters.
As you will have gathered if you have seen my work or read any of my blogs I am obsessed with textures. When I first discovered the astounding textures and patterns achieved by potters using the chemical reactions in salt or volcanic glazes it had me wondering how I could achieve similar textures in my own paintings. Although there is an element of sculpture in some of my work, I am primarily a painter so creating textures like those achieved at 2000 degrees in a kiln is an interesting conundrum.
Over the years the way I use paint has evolved to fit the requirements of the pieces I have been working on. Sometimes a little experimentation and invention led to a new discovery and a whole new set of ideas but the idea of mirroring what potters achieve with glazes has been one that fixates me. I’m not ashamed to admit I have tried some crazy things including adding things as wild as popping candy and metalized calcium to paint. Most of theses experiments achieved very little but some, and here I think I had better keep my hand close to my chest, worked better than I could have hoped. I have incorporated these techniques into my work often combining relief carving with active paints and sanding back or scraping away to reveal layers. Ultimately by trying to make the paint change and behave differently I think I am trying to inject a little of the randomness and natural beauty of the things I find inspiring in the world around me. What always makes a piece work for me is when there is the thought, the control and most importantly the elements of chance and surprise. Rather like the pot emerging from the kiln. So my answer to the question would be another question, “Have you seen the pots by…”