Abstract without being Abstract

Over the last few years, my work has become more about the paint and shape and colour, rather than about any figurative or literal concerns. More abstract if you will. Initially at least, I never knew how to get there. I knew I could never throw some red paint at a canvas and then work with the resultant shapes. That would just seem empty and hollow.

I had been making paintings based on snapshots taken while on holiday. Always the same size. No people. I like making rules for myself. Takes away the awkward question of what to paint. Or at the very least reduces massively the search for an image. Frankly I don’t care about the image, I just want to paint.

Well I say I don’t care, but I must do really. I mean the South of France is supposed to be lovely but I was never there so it means nothing to me but I was in Italy so I have two paintings based on snapshots taken in Italy. Likewise Chicago might be a great city but I was never there. I was however in Florida and consequently have done four Florida paintings.

A Way In

When I started them, these travel paintings looked more or less like the photos upon which they were based. But over the last year, I would start as usual, basing the painting on the carefully chosen photograph but then quite quickly, often after only one or two colours, I would effectively throw the photograph away and just react to the painting in front of me. The snapshot had got me in and now I was just painting my shapes and colours. But I had needed the snapshot to start me off.

I had found my way to be abstract.

Oil Painting of Stripes of Alizarin Crimson, Greens, Yellow and a Black and White
The Red Car, Oil on Panel, 19.7″ x 23.6″ (50 cm x 60 cm), 2020

The painting above may have ended up as a collection of nicely coloured stripes. But it will always be a painting of the road to the airport to me. The Red Car of the title has already gone (it was too fast. It’s down the road) and the red area in the painting itself is actually the sky. It just happens to look better painted alizarin crimson. (It’s a painting. There are no rules).

Abstract without being abstract.

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