The starting point for this picture was a photograph of a piece of rusty metal (possibly from a ship) I found on the beach at Druridge Bay in Northumberland. The main point of interest was a series of rivet holes, some of which were blocked by the metal behind. I found the colour and the pattern of the holes fascinating and, as the painting developed, I have also echoed some of the shapes, almost as a reflection.
This painting is of a group of trees growing along a bank where the roots have become exposed. I painted the same subject in watercolour some years ago at a time when I was struggling to get more freedom into my work. Interestingly, this picture too was a bit of a struggle and it took me quite a long time to resolve the balance of colours and tones.
For this picture I wanted to try to capture the essence of beech trees in Spring without being too literal as to detail. I love the season of Spring as nature begins to come to life after the Winter months and I always want to record the wonderful, fresh colours, especially the bright, sharp ‘Spring greens’, hence the title. So, the main emphasis of the picture is on the vibrant green colour of the folliage together with the vertical lines and the stature of the trees as they push their way towards the sky.
As I worked on this painting, I was reminded of a collection of boats gathered together in a harbour or marina and the strong vertical lines of the masts – and this gave rise to the next picture:
This painting is based on a series of photographs I took of Hartlepool Marina one evening. I have always been fascinated by reflections, especially in water and how shapes are echoed and distorted by the surface movement. In this picture I was also interested in the way the strong vertical lines of the masts create a pattern on the surface of the picture itself and break up the background detail. In this respect it has a similarity with the ‘Spring Greens’ picture above.
This picture means a great deal to me for a variety of reasons. First – and most important – it’s very close to the place at Watersmeet in Devon where my two brothers and I scattered my mother’s ashes. It was one of the places my parents visited on their honeymoon, spent in the village of Lynmouth. Secondly, I imagined the picture as we were walking along and said (out loud as I recall): “One day I’m going to paint that.” And thirdly, it’s one of those pieces of work that came together almost without effort – the way in which the different colours blend together and create the pattern of trees and vegitation. I wasn’t even tempted to get any kind of movement into the water – it just seemed right to treat it as bold, flat white shapes.
A typical early Summer day in Upper Teesdale – a farm, rolling moorland hills with a worked out quarry as a back-drop and a wonderful buttercup-filled field in the foreground. This is also a return to a more realistic approach the subject matter.