Losing my marbles -


If you don't want to get stuck with me at some function or other never ask me why I paint marbles, your vol-au-vents will get cold and may have to be abandoned behind a pot plant. I can go on about it. My daughter Lois likes marbles, surely everyone does. She used to collect them and we would always try and get unusual ones wherever we went. We have them all now in large glass jars by the window where they catch the light. The thing is, if you paint them as individuals they have their own fascinating characteristics. Some are pure, some are flawed, some dark, impenetrable, mysterious and some are sparkling, some bubbly, some colourful, some reserved etc. etc. They are unique, some more complicated than others. But, when you paint them in a community they become infinitely richer, they are literally a reflection of all their neighbours. A modest, simple individual becomes the sum of all the personalities that surround them.

Narrative work -


Whenever I'm in a gallery or a museum or scanning the collections in houses or even just in books, I'm invariably attracted to paintings that have that immediate drama associated with strong tonal contrast. I think everyone is - I think it might be a scientific fact. The eye sees tone first, design and colour come later in the experience. Of course, countless beautiful paintings don't conform to this principal at all but maybe it's my background in theatre that draws me to that first moment of impact. If I spend time looking at a single work (apart from trying to nick any of the techniques involved) it's often the composition that won't let me go. But what really grips me is narrative. It always has. I think maybe it's not very fashionable, but if I ever have to be looked for in a gallery I won't be found staring at water lilies or the abstract or the conceptual, like as not I'll be with the old 'brown' paintings, mesmerized by some large canvas of a half-naked bloke, all veins and spittle, hanging off a tree root at the edge of a cliff, with a broken sword in his free hand and a small child clinging to his leg while an iron-clad hoard of mean-looking troops release the hounds above him against a sky that seems riven by God. Or such like. I want to know what went before and what follows. I like it when artists craft a world as best they can and ask the viewer to come up with a load of stuff.