I once saw a quote from a contemporary, self-taught, English figurative painter and artist that I admire, Guy Denning. It went something like “Don’t ask me what my art’s about. If you want meaning talk to a philosopher, if you want a story talk to a writer”. This statement resonated with me. I am neither of these – I like creating visual art.
Minimalist backgrounds have always been a fundamental component of my style regardless of my subject or medium. I like the observer to imagine the narrative or simply enjoy the piece for what it is.
Having used newsprint for preliminary drawings as I’ve seen Denning do, I was now inspired to combine my love of portrait and figure drawing with this medium to quite literally “tell the story”. It simply adds another layer of interest to the work, something to draw the eye and the mind as well as lending a contemporary feel to the portraits. During my time living in Montreal I gained an appreciation for street art and I feel that my newspaper drawings have a somewhat graffiti feel to them – gritty and urban.
Denning’s statement further encouraged me to portray philosophers and writers as subjects. There is also a slight bent towards French subjects in my works. It was my lifelong dream to visit France and when I spent over a month there in 2013 I was hooked and it continues to influence me.
My process typically involves selecting news sheets for specific subjects based on the colour layout which will enhance light and shadow effects in the subject as well as provide a meaningful catch phrase. That said, I really enjoy when my choice is completely random and I later discover a serendipitous connection. The observer is free to discover one for themselves…