What drives your passion – when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
I have an innate desire to create. I would be very unhappy if I was not an artist, I will admit that it has not always been easy financially and I have often had to supplement my income with teaching work. When I have had a full day in the studio and I have produced something worthwhile, I feel like I am a very fortunate person to be doing what I love.
My dad was always drawing and painting at home when I was a child, this had an important influence on me. I created art from a young age and when I was 10 a won a Kellogg’s art competition. Prizes and awards have always been a good incentive for me. At this early age, I started to think maybe this is something I could do as a career? My parents were always very encouraging, they never said to me….that’s not a proper job or a real way to make a living.
How did you get where you are now in your career?
Perseverance! I also think I am quite a stubborn individual. A positive aspect of this stubbornness means that I tend to stick at things and keep going even when I am hit with criticism and rejection.
What do you make and what are the ideas behind what you make?
I document the world around me in paint. I think of myself as an explorer. I don’t always restrict myself to working on a conventional two-dimensional canvas surface. Sometimes I will utilise found objects such as old tins and matchboxes. I like to use objects in painting because they have a history, they have been on a journey, they bare the marks of time. They also have a practical purpose as framing devices and containers in which I can assemble miniature painted worlds.
I like to work in layers of acrylic or watercolour. I often incorporate elements of collage, torn or cut fragments taken from photocopies of personal digital photographs which are embedded in the paint and worked over and manipulated. These fragments are often completely destroyed or obscured by the end of the painting process. The medium of painting affords the opportunity to add something more than a photograph can provide, such as a heightened sense of place, an atmosphere or insight. A photograph captures a fleeting moment it takes a second to press the button, a painting takes days, weeks, months, years to complete. Painting can express profound insights denied by photography or the digital image. I think we have an increasingly transient relationship with the landscape around us and the places we visit.
What inspires you?
Journeys, this could be a walk to the shops or a 100 mile car ride.
Where do you work? What is your average working day?
I have a purpose built studio attached to my home in North Berwick. I work in the studio three or four days a week and teach for the other two. I generally drop the children at school at 8:45am and start work at 9am, I work pretty solidly until 3pm when I go and pick up the children. I then start working again at 9pm, I’ve always been a night owl and that ability to work late into the night is still something that sustains my practice.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on my largest watercolour painting to date which traces a series of journeys I made in February in Scotland. This piece comprises of 120 miniature 4cm diameter round paintings. Each one depicting an individual scene. I have a newfound passion for the medium of watercolour, a medium which can often be associated with stuffiness and tradition but to me, it has endless possibilities and is a very versatile and exciting material to work with.
In what way does being Scottish/being in Scotland influence your work?
I have lived in Scotland for 17 years and the Scottish urban and rural landscape has certainly influenced the development of my work. I like the fact that you can go for a walk in the Highlands and see nobody for miles, to contrast that we have some great cities full of interesting buildings and streets.