My painting practice is built on a lifelong love of classical painting. I try to pursue the fine craftmanship, stillness and exquisite sense of balance created by the classical masters, while bringing my own contemporary slant to it. This is usually through the introduction of a modern subject into the traditional still life context, but also by manipulating classical compositional rules and juxtaposition of subjects that ‘clash’ in some way. Finding the balance of ‘new’ and ‘old’ elements in each painting is a difficult and often lengthy task. If there are too many ‘new’ elements, the painting loses touch with its grounding in tradition, and if it is exclusively ‘old’ then it doesn’t connect with its own time.
For me, the aims of classical painting are very different from those of realism and I always try to prioritise composition, balance, harmony and sentiment above strictly accurate observation. Because of the proliferation of photographic images, it can be very difficult to pull oneself away from a purely observational approach to painting. I use a layering process to help keep sight of my larger aims and to vary the texture of the paint – playing off thick impastos with super thin glazes to create a sense of depth and atmosphere. The order and structure of the layers allows me to introduce an element of chance to the painting so that it takes on a life of its own, emerging through the build up of layers in a different way each time.
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