You have been perfecting your craft for over 40 years, does further painting experience each year make the solo exhibition process easier or does it make you more critical?
I try to make each solo show as different as possible from the last one. To this end I always try to include new and ‘untested’ work, which can mean that what happened in previous shows isn’t always relevant to the new show.
For me I would rather try something new and come a cropper than play safe and be too predictable.
Creating a unique body of work sometimes has an element of trial and error. Can you pinpoint the specific moment everything fell into place when painting this collection.
There are certainly lots of errors and it can be quite a trial, but no, I don’t think there are specific moments in creating a show when things fall into place, it’s a more organic process than that.
I have mentioned Mac my Labrador already, well if you can picture us going on a walk. I follow the path and walk pretty much in a straight line, while Mac follows his nose and dashes of from side to side wherever his fancy takes him and at the end of the walk has probably walked twice as far as I have. Preparing for a show is much more like Macs progress than mine, if that makes sense.
What challenges did you encounter during the creation of this particular collection (Spring 2018)?
For various unforeseen reasons the lead up time to the exhibition was a bit shorter than normal and this, as you can imagine created a bit of pressure. However, on the plus side, this forced me to focus more intensely and to avoid any of the usual distractions and diversions.
I usually try to manage 2 studio sessions a day, morning and afternoon but this time we changed our normal evening routine at home to eat a bit earlier so I could manage a 3rd session in the evenings.
That made a huge difference and is something I have continued.
How much input did you have in regard to placement/hanging of the pieces within Gallery Heinzel?
None at all. One of the best moments of the whole process is when the work leaves your studio for the gallery and you know your work is finally done.
Having worked so often with Maura in the past, I had complete confidence that she would hang the work to its best advantage.
Even though the work was finished, I was still far too close to the process of creating. Maura takes a fresh eye to the task of hanging and she will always see themes and relationships which work together that I would completely overlook.
Which piece did you most enjoy painting and why?
I very much enjoyed painting ‘Skateraw Memories’ as it took me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It’s a very personal record of the many happy days I spent with the kids on and around the beach at Newtonhill where we lived for many years.
Was there a selection process for the Spring solo exhibition and what were you hoping to achieve with your choices?
Yes, very much so. In the end I had more than 50 paintings to choose from.
The artist is not always the best judge of their work especially if it has only recently been completed, so I was happy to let Maura make the final selection of 43 paintings which was the number we had agreed on quite early on in the process.
However, I think we were both looking for the same thing, a bright uplifting exhibition which would bring lots of smiles and cheery faces to everyone who sees it.
Interview conducted Spring 2018