These are my first pictures, concerned with colour and lineal form. They use themes (a repeating configuration of lines and curves) as building blocks from which the image is constructed. I enjoyed the silky glide of oil pastels in particular and inspired by my fathers art works I began the task of developing my skills as a enthusiastic14 year old. Drawing from a life was quite foreign to me, so instead of starting with a representation, rendering and perspective then moving away from that with time and experience, I started with a purely non-representational form and slowly introduced a subject. Because of this, I’ve always felt more at ease working with flat spaces, forming depth by use of layering rather than perspective. Even my most stridently figurative works have this connection to abstract shape and line.
More important at this time was the embedding of arts practice in my daily routine. Picture making subdued the roar of the playground, the rowdy classroom and basketball court. Everything else imposed itself on my senses, but drawing in the privacy of my bedroom restored me to my own being. It was there that the intensity of feelings could find an outlet and I would screw myself up, spring loaded, to start a new work. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t “draw”. The practice had attached itself to my spirit, as necessary as food and drink, and a continuity of ideas began to emerge, each new picture containing the seed of the next. At school I was becoming known for my strange drawings, not always receiving favourable attention. Then I would give a nervous laugh to disguise my disdain, which served to prompt me to bury my interest further.
‘Eye of the Storm’, a work employing pencils, graphite for the lighter grey tones and conte for a contrasting black, initiated a new set of drawings following the exhibition at Roar 2 Studios. The Spartan approach complimented my sombre mood and was an important step in my finding a more precise sense of rhythm in design. For most of the remainder of the year, my drawings were almost devoid of colour, as I concentrated on developing my discipline. With each image came a growing sense of my method of discovery. The reward always short lived before the desire for a new success overwhelmed. Around me, life flickered and lapped at my imagination, but I was set on these closed forms. The most a subject would infiltrate was in the evoking of a feeling ignited by the irresistible swell of passionate music, or in a title spawned of poetic association. My real subject was learning the procedures of an artist, a labour of love that saw every available inch of wall space in my bedroom filled with drawings. Satisfaction in completing a work was always quickly replaced by an acute awareness of my limitations and an equally robust desire to improve with practice. Outside my window, due would accumulate on terracotta roof tops across the sprawling suburbs, life flowed, someone late for school, appointments to make, errands to run; a squeal of tyres on wet asphalt catching the morning sun as if cut from a sheet metal plate; but in the sanctuary of my bedroom a different reality emerged, a chrysalis containing the merging of spirit with paper with wide eyes, duller when anticipating the enormity of the task ahead.
In 1989 colour returned to my own palette, and I embraced the medium of dry pastel, first introduced to me through collaborations with my brother Philip. Drawings of a more lyrical nature with titles suggestive of theatre and magic came to life. ‘Tiger Tiger Burning Bright’ with its plumes of brilliant red held in pause by a strong black presence of line was the first of a set of larger works. ‘Wind shear’ with its visual rendering of dangerous wind currents, as if the breath of a higher being, and ‘Crystal Light’, a blue monument in motion hurtling through space with an intense inner burn ‘, were among these pastel drawings and I was ready for my first showing. The pictures arrived, each with a unique personality capturing my mood for that time.