Sunday, September 25, 2011


We two pods, oil on canvas on board, 30 x 30 cm, 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I make small oil paintings on a scale of 30 cm x 30 cm, canvas on board. I’ve been making paintings on this scale for the last year and a half and do so because I really enjoy the challenge of limited space to work with. I make paintings that attempt to deal with the way we perceive and make associations to ambiguous imagery. I guess I try to replicate that moment when you can’t quite recognise something so you begin to imagine what it might be. I hope the paintings balance playfully between representation and abstraction remaining open for the viewer to make of them what they will.    

Can you describe your working routine?

I have just graduated from University so I am in a transitional period between leaving something very familiar and entering a new way of working. Before I was used to getting up first thing, getting to the studio at College for 9 and then just painting throughout the day until about half 5 for five or six days a week. Now I have to juggle between job hours etc, so I wouldn’t say I have a routine as such, I am getting in the studio about 4 days a week but this can be at various times. This flexibility I now have to have is really interesting because it has further fueled my passion to get back in the studio and makes the whole experience of setting myself up mentally to enter the space really exciting. At the same time it can be agony because losing the luxury of painting full time at College now means I’ve become obsessive about getting in to the studio, especially if the paintings are not going well then I really get unbearable to be around until I can actively try and sort things out in the studio.

When I do get to the space now I am usually so itching to get back and have overly thought about what the next move should be I just walk in and start painting without even looking around… then I have to spend the rest of the time there trying to work out what on earth I have done in this mad moment of energy! I am really impatient, however I paint quite patiently which usually means I will build and build, mark by mark very slowly until I get completely sick of the whole thing and go and do something drastic. I love the whole process of emotions going up and down when I’m painting, it all seems so ridiculous when I think that we can put ourselves through such a self indulgent activity for all the stress and sleepless nights just for a few moments of pure happiness when it all goes well…but when it does go well it’s all worth it.

Oil pastel drawings

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I have just moved into a studio space in an old Warehouse at Falmouth Wharves in Cornwall. The space is incredibly inspiring because it is situated on the River Fal with stunning views across the water to the countryside (I sound like an estate agent). The space is on the top floor so all the rafters of the building are part of the studio and we have old sliding wooden doors that can be fully opened in the summer. The space feels very much part of the elements because there is no insulation and only a tin roof so when the wind is going or it is raining you really feel it with all the creeks and gusts of wind. The only down side is that birds sometimes get in and fly around the studio which can be a bit scary… I tell myself it all adds to the character! I think being in that space has brought a more rugged feel to the newer paintings. I’ve had real trouble with being to prim and precious when painting but now I feel the work is becoming rougher maybe more weathered in appearance.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

Starting in a very loose, spontaneous way, the paintings begin very freely where I can play with the material without any constraints. I tend to try lots of different ways of applying or removing the material in the early stages of the process to find new textures or interesting surfaces. This process of playing is very important in giving me a platform to work from and also has its role in shaping the paintings throughout the process of making them. Many of the first layers that I apply remain evident in the finished paintings, usually in contrast to the later more considered and delicate application of the material.

My paintings are made in a strange place between being autonomous and very controlled. I like to have control over the direction of the painting and in a way this can be my biggest enemy because as I said before I become too precious and then find I don’t let the painting take me on a journey I instead try to take it on one, it is a bit of a dilemma for me at the minute. I want to let the paintings evolve autonomously as opposed to over thinking them but I don’t trust my ability to create something worthwhile without taking time to consider every option. The recent paintings evolve over a drawn out period of layering forms to create a kaleidoscopic image. They seem to work best when I can’t work them out myself, so I like them to be quite puzzling with a lot of information of the surface to make them appear purposeful but then that illusion of purpose crumbles when you try to read further into them. I’m really into crime dramas so that sense of red herrings or following a dead end is something I hope to bring to the paintings.   

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

At the minute I am really struggling with the fact that my paintings feel so distant to my own everyday interests and surroundings. They feel like they are in a different place to me if that makes sense? It feels like I have this agenda for the work that I can get my teeth into but now I am beginning to want to feel more connected to the sources that help to build the paintings. At the minute I pull sources from Islamic Architecture or references from paintings history which are really interesting to me but they feel so distant from my everyday living. I love walking in the countryside and spending time in vast natural open spaces but these things don’t feel like they make their way into the paintings, maybe they do but I can’t see it. I find it difficult to get my head around these ideas that I develop that then seem to be arbitrary so I want to start dealing directly with my surroundings by referencing the world that I experience on a daily basis.  

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I pretty much only make paintings on canvas. Occasionally I will go through bursts of making oil pastel drawings on paper but really I love the long drawn out process of painting, so that keeps me happy. I feel really trapped or uncultured in a way when I see people working in really exciting materials but for me I wouldn’t feel honest to myself if I wasn’t using oil paint. There is nothing quite like painting so when I make anything other than that I feel like I’m skirting round the issue at hand.  

Up in the rafters, oil on canvas on board, 30 x 30 cm, 2011

What does the future hold for this work?

I hope an endless and enriching journey as I keep painting but of course things don’t always work out so I have no idea where it is all heading. I want to continue mulling over ideas and challenges that I have and I hope the work will continue to throw up new ideas and challenges to engage with.   My actual paintings as objects I hope will end up being shown somewhere but that isn’t an issue really, I just feel so privileged to have the time and space to paint at the minute even if it’s only to keep me sane. However as it goes one of them has just been accepted to be shown in The Discerning Eye exhibition in London in November which is fantastic. The whole business of painting is such a long haul of a journey and development comes in little steps. I just want to keep chugging along and not worry too much about the future.   

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would love to just take this opportunity to thank you Valerie for making the time to do this blog. Having something like this on the internet is such an amazing thing because it makes me feel like there is a community out there as support. It has been such a good experience to reflect on my working practice… sorry if I have just rambled on. I find it really difficult to articulate what I am doing but it is always good to give it a go. 

Light casting, oil on canvas on board, 30 x 30 cm, 2011


  1. Excellent. Its great to hear an artists thoughts on their work. Love the painting and those oil pastels.

  2. Great paintings! Thanks for sharing the work!

  3. More rugged and yet still very delicate. Great painting and great interview.