I’ve been fortunate in my private and professional lives to have visited most of the great art museums of the world, particularly in Europe after I retired and moved there in 2000. That of course inspires me greatly. I especially enjoy post-impressionist and expressionist work from northern European countries. I am constantly amazed as I discover national groups like the Group of Seven in other countries – for example in Scandinavia, Russia, northern Britain, etc. – who had similar inspirations and expressions at around the same time. There was obviously a spiritual link, and in some cases an actual link. While these paintings are often wilderness scenes, the same painters occasionally dabbled in cityscapes using a similar style and palette. I have done the same, so observers say, though I don’t think I’m quite in the same class as Lawren Harris!
I don’t make much distinction between landscapes and urbanscapes. Though some have been complimentary with respect to the detail of some of my street scenes, I don’t regard myself as representational at all. I am interested in colour and shapes. I work loosely from photos I have taken on my hikes and travels. I sometimes use the same photo to create quite different images of my own. I only use suggestions in the original image to try to create pleasing and interesting combinations of colour and shape. That is the simple aim. I maintain that that is all that modern painting is.
I may startle some by saying that, by comparison to other types of landscape, the urban areas of Malta, where I lived in retirement for 13 years, and which feature in some of my paintings, are essentially colourless. But I would say the same of Canadian summer! The mission of the artist is to supply the colour ideas and thus to create art, not a representation. Some of my approach is dictated by well-established colour theory, and some is my own experimentation. I am happy to be described as a “colourist”.
In 1917, after the death of Canada’s iconic landscape painter, Tom Thomson, his fellow artists erected a memorial cairn in a wilderness area he painted often. It reads in part that “[nature] drew him apart and revealed itself wonderfully to him”. Most of us can only dream of having Thomson’s vision and inspiration, but I try to let my landscapes and urbanscapes reveal themselves to me and inspire my own particular view of shape and colour.
For a painting to “hang together” for me, of course drawing and perspective are important. But so is composition, which is just the choice of shapes, and unifying colour. The very same applies to abstract work, to which I have been drawn in the last few years. Indeed, some have said that this is a direct progression from my series of northern Ontario rock face paintings which started to shade into the abstract.
A NOTE ON THE PAINTINGS:
The landscapes and urbanscapes are painted in oil on board or canvas in the case of the 8”x10”, 9”x12”
and 12”x16” sizes; and on canvas in the case of the 18”x24” sizes. All are sold with good quality, appropriate wooden frames with mattes.
The abstracts are usually painted in acrylic on 12”x16” canvasses, though there are exceptions.