About My Work

 

Dandanong Rainforest

I am a completely self-taught artist. Until I turned professional, I painted mostly zoological and botanical subjects as a hobby.


My family and I visited Australia in 1998 - a trip that had been planned for eight years. One of my ambitions since being very young was to see Uluru (Ayer's Rock) and it certainly was not an anticlimax. Seeing 1000 year old Aboriginal rock paintings and carvings was a truly wonderful experience. I left Uluru with the feeling that a connection to my distant past had been awoken. This feeling grew even more following a trip to Lascaux II caves in 2008 and seeing how rough dots and handprints were used in prehistoric painting. To be able to represent concepts & illustrate life with such a technique fired my imagination.

My first dotted painting was created during sick leave from my then current job. I had torn a major tendon in the shoulder of my dominant arm. Every single dot on that first painting was created by picking up the right hand with the left in order to paint. I was very pleased with the result and became absolutely fascinated by the whole process of producing work in dots. In late 2008, while clearing out an attic at home, I came across my old sketch books from studying geology at both school and university. It was with some surprise that I found that almost all of my old black and white drawings were shaded in dots in the classic illustrator's technique. So it seems that dots have long held a fascination for me, only now they're in full glorious technicolour! Over the years, people have asked whether my work is inspired by dot-work also produced in a commune in Morocco, or in Indonesia and in some African countries. I has never seen such work so cannot comment but it's always fascinating to hear how dots are used in the art of many cultures.

After leaving employment to turn professional, my first quest was to find the best method to produce a round dot. Many of my earlier works were produced using a paintbrush and now are a source of irritation to me as the dots are not as uniform as I would have liked. I tried cotton buds, twigs, the wooden ends of paintbrushes as well as a multitude of other unlikely objects. The solution is a trade secret but I can now produce the regularity and texture of dots that I desire. People always say how patient I must be, but in fact I find it to be quite a meditative technique even though the work involves very long hours and a great deal of concentration.

The inspiration for many of my paintings comes from nature - the patterns in everything we see as well as the birds, animals and flowers. The only painting that I ever dreamed was 'Legacy' and it was such a vivid dream that I felt compelled to paint it. At exhibitions I hear the frequent comment "Oh it's Aboriginal art", which is incredibly frustrating. Aboriginal art often portrays incredibly complex, and detailed stories and histories. My early pieces certainly show the influence of seeing Aboriginal art while in Australia, using symbology either to portray British environments, or those seen on my travels. I have the greatest respect for the Australian Aboriginal people and their fantastic art. The most important and widely used symbol that I used in earlier work was the circle. This, to me, typifies life - everything is interlinked and co-dependent while individual life itself is a huge circle. Circles are also such a recurrent symbol in much Pre-historic art.

For the last few years, my work has concentrated on producing pieces that combine the use of dots and brushstrokes. Typically, a subject is painted realistically using brushstroke technique then a background of dots is added, of either spectacular or subtle colour gradation, to complete the painting. A few years ago, I also started painting detailed wildlife portraits again - something I enjoy immensely. The biggest compliment I was ever paid about my work was when two unrelated buyers individually told me that I captured the animals’ souls in their eyes. I initially learned much about painting birds by studying Tunnicliffe's illustrative techniques.

My dotted works are all acrylic, either on canvas or canvas board, or occasionally on heavyweight paper or wooden panels. An average 30 x 20 inch canvas takes approximately 280 hours to paint; more detailed works such as 'Fire' can take up to 400 hours to complete. An average 30 x 20 inch canvas contains between 34,000 and 90,000 dots. I also sell high quality digitally reproduced (giclée) limited edition prints of most of my works at very affordable prices. Prints can even be ordered at up to twice their original size, or at half size if preferred (prices available on request). My wildlife work is usually on heavy gauge paper and is either in acrylics or watercolour, although this year I may try to produce some work on box canvas.

If you like what you see, please take time to sign the guest book - it gives me great encouragement! Most of my designs are available as hand-made greetings cards as well as prints. I also produce small three dimensional pieces on wood which are highly decorative and are available at exhibitions, with some examples shown in the 3D Gallery. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by e-mail with any enquiries.