My dear old mum died in the summer of 2005. Although I‘d already managed to build a life in Austria, it had meant leaving a lot behind – friends and family. You chug along quite nicely and stay in contact more or less infrequently because you know you can fly back and stay over for a few days whenever you feel like it. In my mind, mum and dad would always be there, and if I decided to go home for a few days, mum would always say ‘Well it‘s really lovely to see you. Would you like a cup of tea?’

Having an abstract home that was real any time I wanted it to be was a luxury I had for so many years. Home was the joker I could always play whenever the game was getting tough – and mum was the face on that card. When mum went it pulled the rug from under my feet. I realised that bit of forever was gone – forever. A whole load of melancholy and fear swept over me, and I started taking stock. I needed a bucket for all that negative adrenaline. That’s when I started painting.

Some people can look at a complex image and catch the essence without going into detail.
Some people can depict a whole mood with just a couple of strokes.
Some people can tell a whole story without filling a whole canvas.
I can’t.

I can‘t even sketch simple things like a man or a horse. Nor do I want to. All I can do is start with a mood and follow it through until the whole canvas is overloaded with several layers of ideas and effects and there‘s no choice but to stop completely, overlay even more or to go into even more detail.

I began just painting basic shapes: squares, circles, spirals – and trying to add some sort of an effect to make the colours stands out. I swapped acrylics for DIY centre metallic and gloss paints, started shifting the colours around with scrapers. Then I tried cutting the skin of the half-dry paints and scratching effects into the background.

I figured spraying metallic paints over the matt and gloss below would look good if I could speed-dry the surface of the paint to make it crack and tear. After that I found I could get an antique effect by working in copper and rust patinas.

As soon as I start trying to push a picture in one direction it just bares my inadequacies. Any techniques I have developed have come from trial and error, but I wouldn’t dream of listening to sound advice. Why would I? Painting, when I have time, is the ‘point’ of it all. It’s like my music – the result is what comes out when I feel I’ve thrashed around enough; it’s not something I aim at achieving.

It’s all an internal learning process. If I like what I end up with, I may try to use the same colours and techniques again. If I don’t – I won’t; but they’re all roads you have to go down before you can say ‘do it this or that way’ – or don’t!

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