HOW I PAINT

 

I paint intuitively and spontaneously, which means that I use a creative force ‘greater than the sum of the parts’.

I believe that we humans are like vessels, which can permit a flux of creative energy to be harvested from the ether, and made into beautiful things: ideas, plans, solutions, inspiration, vision; colour, depth, meaning – art.

If we learn to harness that force and to use it positively, and to open ourselves to contain enough of it, we can blossom into our full creative self: a healthy human being!

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So I spent the first 20 years of my career opening to the creative flow; unsticking all the blocks and fears that put a stopper in my inherent creative genius, and maximising the freedom in my everyday, so that I could be present enough to paint with my full attention.

 

The result is that I am able to make paintings with a very lucid kind of waking-dreaming-visioning: my mind allows itself to loosen – to not control the outcome – and my imagination-intuition-memory-feeling form a harmonious movement, allowing the painting to come into being in a relatively effortless way.

I spent some years cleansing my mind and energy of the cynicism of art school – realising very quickly that I was more interested in creativity as a pure, positive force – a force of transformation, than in making a place for myself in the ‘art world’.

My further studies after art school were into: cooperation and collective power (community); growth and expansion (organic food-growing and permaculture systems);  subtle forces that can be harnessed for our individual and collective good (spiritual community, deeply-religious places in the Mediterranean).

My main focus has been on evolving consciousness – and on how we can heal by using art as a cathartic tool – and then, when we are whole, how we can use art as a means of expanding further; enhancing our happiness, our energy, our potential as creative beings. I see art as a means of knowing the self (the microcosm) and thus knowing one’s purpose in the world (the macrocosm).

 

Creativity can build a conscious loop, a harvesting circuit of energy, joy, positivity – which can then be radiated out into the world – through the self, through the art – much in the same way that the Microcosmic orbit, yoga, tantra, etc do. But art can be more potent, as it offers this loop – a dialogue – external to us, and thus allows us to begin affecting our reality in profound ways – which consequently allows us to know that we are alchemists of reality.

Sometimes it feels as though my paintings are being created by a mystical force, but my sensibilities are a bit too practical to get into that kind of thinking.

Other times it feels like a celebration of a place, of the body, of relationship.

Or it’s a prayer; an affirmation of good energy – between us and the land, in people, in our human consciousness.

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Because I work intuitively and spontaneously, this means that I rarely sketch a painting before making it, apart from wee thumbnail sketches of landscapes, to take in the very basic composition.

When I travel, I tend to go and live in a place, rather than taking a short trip and remaining an outsider: I like to be fully immersed in a culture, language, weather, landscape.

And because of my high sensory sensitivity, I tend to take a long time to fully absorb a place, an atmosphere – to make sense of things – to digest them, and then to respond to them.

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My paintings are therefore dense with feeling and meaning. Because they’re not tied to the ‘small mind’ or frontal lobe consciousness, my process alchemises layers of subtle interconnected stories; the imagery is able to resonate on the personal and the archetypal levels, because it is not based on a concept – but rather it flows from what I understand as the ‘wider’ mind.

Many of my paintings have taken years to complete. But since putting a taproot down in Guardia Sanframondi, I’ve been able to be more efficient in my practise – though the imagery can still take many weeks or months to come to completion, there is less creative chaos and more creative resolution, as my life has less upheaval in it.

My art practise is, for me, a spiritual practise, as it aligns me – this always makes me think of clay being rested in water, or metal being annealed by heating it up to cherry red so that its molecules come into synch again.

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My sensory sensitivities involve, amongst other quirks, my senses overlapping, and so it is very easy to get overwhelm from the simplest of interactions that most people are able to keep to one sensory realm, and let go of as soon as the thing has happened. My body tends to absorb and contain a mass of complex, interconnected, over-enhanced information, which of course leads to overload unless I get to a safe place.

My art practise is a haven that allows me to re-synchronise; to antidote the intensity of the world-outside-of-my-arthouse. The mind-state that I get into is a method of harmonising, which calms my sensory stimulation – as it does for most people who paint.

My technique is particular, in that it draws on this harmonising process, and makes that the conscious focus of the painting, rather than it being a casual after-effect.

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