Blank paper does not really exist; there is always something waiting. When I begin to paint or draw, I just reveal what is already there. When I touch the surface of the paper or canvas, I feel as if something is imprisoned there, waiting for me to lead them to the light.
When I paint or draw a portrait, I always begin with the eyes because that is where the contract between us is made. They have a story to tell and I am the storyteller. I believe that if you talk to your characters and listen carefully, they will always tell you what they want. I often talk with my paintings and that is where the mystery begins. My conscious mind switches off and when it returns, the main part of the picture is done. It is as if the people I am painting have painted themselves. They describe themselves through my hand, as if I am a mirror that they hold up and use to project their image onto paper. I sometimes feel that I play only a small part in this process. I am the hand, the brush, the pencil. They are the artists and I am a mirror.
I accept the terms and conditions set out by the subjects of my art because I want to bring them to life as they see themselves and not distorted by my own interpretation. I am their guide. I help them cross over from their blank world and arrive in my world intact and unchanged by the journey. I do not add or take away from who they are and what they carry with them.
I know that everything I paint or draw is connected. Every blank canvas or paper is a piece of a jigsaw that is waiting to be shaped by the subject yet to be revealed. Perhaps I will never see or understand what all the pieces represent but I recognize certain recurring motifs and symbols that connect each portrait, each piece, like an invisible thread.
Why do I paint and draw? I had a successful and satisfying career in media but I was disturbed by a recurring dream for many years. In this dream, I was surrounded by exquisite but very small, almost invisible objects but my hands were huge and I could never pick up or hold these beautiful things. I realized that my life was being painted with a broad brush that could never articulate the details that make our existence worthwhile. I had always been told to look at the bigger picture but in doing so, I had forgotten that the bigger picture is made up of countless individual stories and details. I was racing through life and not listening to or seeing the little things that provide the energy that powers our existence. I slowed down and began to paint and draw and appreciate the beauty and meditative silence in little things, in the detail. My recurring dream vanished. I became calm.
The techniques I use in my painting and drawing has changed. I try experimental approaches, which sometimes appear unconventional. I draw and paint in all mediums except watercolor as I feel it does not provide the precision I need. I do not practice advance sketching; I do not use erasers, rulers, or any tool for measurement. My hand paints or draws by itself and I do not want to waste time on unnecessary additional movements.
I never need to find inspiration. I see what I should paint or draw by looking at a blank canvas or paper. I know that something is waiting for me there and will always reveal itself.
After spending many years in a completely different occupation, I have a lot of unspent ‘painting energy’ and if I cannot use it, I feel physically ill. I cannot leave a blank canvas or paper untouched, as I know that something is waiting there to take my hand and cross over.