My career as an artist began in a dinner hall near Sullum Voe in Shetland when a friend asked if I could draw a portrait for a birthday present. We were all waiting for the first oil to come ashore of the Brent line; I had time on my hands so, why not. I suppose I didn’t think too much of it then as I was on a 4 year mission to travel round Europe which began by selling encyclopaedias to American soldiers in Germany. By the age of 26 the desire to paint had resurfaced and has never left me. I studied at Edinburgh College of art for 4 years and in the summer of 1989 I graduated. Having tried all other forms of employment I decided to try to make my living from the skills I had acquired as a student. Consequently my career path has weaved its way through a variety of different avenues ,from colouring of antiquarian prints to commissions, historical research projects and tutor to various art groups, but the central theme has always been the exhibition of paintings in galleries throughout Scotland.
My studio lies about 12 miles south of Edinburgh so I travel to many locations around Scotland to paint. Some of the areas that I enjoy returning to are Loch Tay, Glen Lyon, the Linn of Dee near Braemar and East Lothian which I have returned to frequently over the past 18 years. The contrast of dramatic landscapes and weather conditions in Scotland combined with the subtle change of colour caused by atmospheric space, gives me the opportunity to add to my palette those colours that I particularly enjoy using such as yellow ochre, burnt sienna and smouldering blues which are all evident from September to May thus missing out the midge months, when I go to the beach instead and can use a similar palette, weather permitting.
I work mostly with alkyd, a medium that depends on the use of resin rather than oil to suspend the pigment, the advantage is both aesthetic and practical, all colours dry over the same length of time and will be touch dry within 24 hours. Paintings when completely dry take on a pastel chalk like appearance which I find sympathetic to atmospheric landscape painting. Although most of my time at present is spent working with alkyd, I also use pastel chalk as an alternative medium and acrylic as a tool for sketching out doors making full use of its fast drying time to respond to the opportunities that fast moving weather can bring.
Over the years I have been continually developing my instinctive reaction to landscape as it is transformed by light or atmospheric conditions that may only last moments before it merging back into the camouflage of its surrounding environment and become a hidden secret again, waiting for others to discover the beauty of the moment with the changing light.