My paintings have never been explicitly personal. The stories of any specific painting tend to appear after the work has been completed, rather than before it. Sometimes it’s a simple source of inspiration: one song title or one piece of music that triggered the colour scheme, or a particular story of an animal or planet that I read about and wanted to capture. Many of my paintings are inspired by nature in this way, including Patagonian Skies or these dancing albatross.
Other times, it’s far more complicated, and requires me to look back and dig into what I was doing, where I was and how I was feeling at the time. The results are surprising, and I discover hidden layers, like in this otter painting that was, at first, simply a painting about otters and a beautiful sky.
I’ve never directly painted events in my life, or world events, and 2020 was no exception. The year like no other, I couldn’t conceive how to paint a crippling pandemic, even if I wanted to. Like I’m sure everyone else is, I feel shocked, pained, anxious for the future, yet hopeful and full of gratitude for everything that this year has taught us.
But I do want my final painting of 2020 to mean something. This is a painting that was built from sketches and studies with its story already completed. It will be full of symbolism, from the colours chosen to the starling perched on the scene. Yet I hope for anyone else viewing it, it will simply be a beautiful painting. That is the joy art brings to me: the beauty with or without the story.
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