Artist Statement

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I use subjects that allow me to satisfy my obsession with colour....

My work is a vivid exploration of still life, using subjects that allow me to satisfy my obsession with colour; and within them somehow communicate that elusive sense of sheer joy. The process is more visceral than intellectual; I'm generally not too concerned with creating a great deal of meaning beyond the aesthetic.  Imagery is often borrowed from childhood; sweet things, toys, stuff that might evoke a sense of wonderment, and ultimately nostalgia.

As a kid I do vividly remember thinking how wonderful it would be to hand paint the cells and characters in Disney films; given that paint has been replaced by pixels, I think I’ve found a way to satisfy that dream in my own unique way.

 
Painting has been my first love for as long as I can remember.
 

Painting has been my first love for as long as I can remember.  I started using oils from around the age of 8 years old.  I've always been interested in realism, and occasionally will be drawn to portraiture, some of my latest work now combines both the still life subjects and portraits; the 'Wilderness Of Kitsch' series allows me to create a miniature world where figures sit amongst the kitsch memorabilia I've acquired over the years.  I discovered photorealism as an artistic movement while at university, and was captivated by the US photorealists Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, and Audrey Flack. Here I was also introduced to the work of the German painter Gerhard Richter, who’s use and mastery of paint has inspired me ever since.  Having also been heavily influenced by my dad’s love of photography as a child, using a photo as a starting point seemed like a natural way for me to approach painting.

 
I hear a little voice say ‘paint me’.
 

A painting however will always now begin as an idea, rather than a found photo, and the challenge is to then recreate it in my photography studio where I have a small stage area.  Here I can manipulate everything from the composition to the light to get the most from the subject.  At some point a photograph will just work, and I hear a little voice say ‘paint me’.  Once printed out I use the photo as reference, scaling up by eye and sketching out in yellow acrylic. I then roughly produce an entire under painting in acrylic.  This process gives me the freedom to refer to the photo less once I'm working in oils, since it is my desire to enhance the world, rather than replicate it too precisely.  Contrasts between focus and blur have become a key element in my work. Blurred areas become very abstract passages, and using dry brushwork, can be the most technically challenging sections to paint. 

My work is often described as playful and fun, and even kitsch, due to the nature of the subjects.  None of which I mind, however within it lies a serious practice that I have devoted my working life to, and a deep desire to improve with every brush mark. 

 
People say, ‘Photorealism: why don’t you just take a photo of it?’ But it’s about taking something mundane, like the lollies she paints, and elevating it to the status of something more.
— Ricky Wilson, singer