There are two lights, one inside your head and one that lights the room. I paint the first one. My paintings are lit by the light of imagination, the real light. The places I visit in my work are a product of my dreams, which are also bathed in this light. It is an emotional light, a light that can convey a feeling, a mood, or an idea. It is the light of nostalgia, of a distant memory, the light of the magical garden of childhood.
An image may come to me completed. The challenge is to hold it in my head and finish the painting before it fades. I don't like to ask too many questions, to edit or to filter.
If I do, I am usually left with just dust in my hands, or a less interesting painting. I listen to the still voice within, intuition, for guidance. Thinking, I leave to the viewer. A clear meaning might sometimes be lacking, or reason might be obscured, but there is often a power, a numinosity in a successful work that resists all clarification. Which I would never exchange for the most carefully composed idea.
I am a romantic, an idealist. My style is simply a product of this. It may vary from semi realism, to lyrical and poetic which is closer to expressionism, but will always be in the service of beauty. As a great admirer of art history, especially the Old Masters, from Lascaux to Vermeer, I have consistently tried to incorporate their influence into my work. This, I have found to my surprise, is unusual in the art world today which prefers to ignore the past and concentrate on the constant obsession of the new. However I have recently come into contact with an international movement of artists that like me, try to incorporate the expertise and achievements of the past with elements of modern freedoms, to create a synthesis of both.
Starting a session, or a new work is, I believe for most artists my self included, the hardest part. Fear always plays a role, fear of failure, as does desire, and passion.
I may absorb my self in the work of another to build up inspiration, I may go for a walk, or listen to music, anything to activate my soul, to light the fire. Sometimes it is like hunting a wild animal that is extremely shy and hard to catch. One has to sneak up upon it while it is not looking. Once started though there is usually no stopping. I can go on for hours, until my back aches and my eyes are bleary, but the paint has disappeared and I have only light at the end of my brush.
All my favourite artists do not paint reality, but something else. What this something else is, is hard to describe. Sure there is an element of reality in all figurative works, but if there is too much, then for me, you might as well take a photograph. Art lives when coloured by the soul of the painter, and it is this colour that is most important.
This is what I call the inner light, the light of the imagination. It is the old dichotomy between realism and idealism. It is this light that can make the most mundane thing numinous, mythical and extraordinary. Children look with these eyes the whole time, until a certain age the world is a magical and mysterious place. It is not until logic and rationality are fully awakened that this world fades, and this garden of paradise is left behind.
I remember making a painting once of an evil face once when I was a child. I could not sleep that night as it seemed to have a life of its own and I could not put it out of my mind. Eventually I had to burn the page, to destroy it utterly in order to escape its presence. Since then I tend to avoid the dark side of my psyche. It is not an area I like to explore. Of course I do so in my dreams, those that I can not control and some of this will enter my work, but on the whole the shadows are there to enhance the light.
The symbolism in my work is a product of 'not knowing'. It began with a file I kept, where I would put all my favourite images cut out of magazines and such like. I began to notice recurring themes, the same images kept turning up again and again. I have never been able to explain to myself the meaning of these images or why they seem so important, but I have seen them in other places, in images of ritual, in myths, dreams and art. These images are not entirely personal but belong to the psyche, or what I discovered later was called the collective unconscious by C. G. Jung.
I am not the only one who appears to be entirely ignorant as to the cause of these obsessions. Ask anyone why they like what they like and the answer will be equally vague. This is not to say that there is no reason, but that the reasons lie beyond what can be expressed rationally. I am content with this and let sleeping dogs lie. The images work on the psyche in their own way and in their own time and require no rational intervention from me, or the viewer. It may be fun to try though.
My work is intensely personal, I am not performing for another. It is my private world, the secret place of my soul. I do not intend to please. To my amazement and pleasure though, sometimes other people seem to be able to identify with my work and even like it. This shows that we are not so different as we may think. Trying to be original is a futile exercise.
My greatest insecurity is that I loose my inspiration, my motivation, my fire, my muse, which I do from time to time, thinking it will never return. So far she always has.