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What Makes a Painting?

It is always so encouraging when people take the time out to write to me and share with me their enthusiasm for my work. It fills me with great joy when someone can find some inspiration for their own work in my paintings and I am always happy to provide any advice I can to help.

The essays I wrote for 'Work Small, Learn Big' and 'International Artist' are now almost 10 years old but I put a lot of thought into the articles and think they still stand up today. My work has moved on in many respects but essentially my approach to painting remains the same.

A few years ago, for the first time, I gave some painting workshops and this has caused me to deconstruct my working methods in an attempt to pass on to others not only 'how'  I make my work but also my thought process as a painting progresses.

When you are looking to make a painting, the subject matter, in my case, fields, farm buildings etc are only important in that they have stimulated you to want to create. Once you have begun your painting, once the first mark is made, the subject ceases to have any importance, all your attention should now be on the surface of the painting. Only make marks, add colour, draw lines, splatter paint which you think make the painted surface look better. The world of your painting is your world, you are the supreme being and only you get to decide what looks 'right' and only you can decide if something is 'wrong'. You have the power to make grass red and the sky black, or even the other way around but you must also apply your  own internal logic to your creation.

You probably know what you want your painting to look like, don't let your knowledge of the natural world inhibit you as you create your new personal world. It will be difficult at first to make complete paintings which satisfy you but parts of your work will be everything you hoped so treasure these parts and try to develop and grow them until you are making paintings which are expressing your inner vision.

I hope that doesn't sound too 'spiritual' and helps you a little. Happy painting!

 Francis

 

Inspiration

I first wrote this nearly 20 years ago as part of my application for the M.A. Course at Grays and reading it again I'm struck by how much it still informs my work today.

In my work, I am trying to evoke in the viewer, a childhood memory of a day or a long forgotten moment, and to reawaken the sense of pleasure and lost innocence this memory brings.

I hope to achieve this response through a combination of visual references, intellectual elements and emotional triggers.

In the paintings, the visual references are the trees, cottages, dykes ( stone walls ) birds, sheep, cows and so on, which I interpret in a naïve simplified style.

The intellectual element is the sense of it being a visual record of an actual place i.e. Cookney or Glen Isla and the emotional triggers are chiefly the expressive, vibrant colour I use, but the texture, shapes and rhythmic 'marks' I make as the painting develops are also important.

In my current work, I am slowly working toward diminishing the intellectual elements, refining and simplifying the visual references and trying to rely more on the emotional triggers, to elicit a response.

My aim is to make work, which will impact on the person seeing it in a sense similar to that felt on listening to a familiar or favourite piece of music.

Francis