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    “All painting is an accident. But it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.”

— Francis Bacon


       If it was good enough for Francis it's good enough for me.


     The accident I mean.


     All my work starts with an accident. I work out what I want to do, develop an idea of what materials or surfaces I want to use to achieve it. And then I make my first mark.


     I have this superstition - more of an idiosyncrasy really. The first mark I make on a canvas, or a piece of paper, or plastic or board, I never erase or paint out. It becomes a starting point. Sometimes I make it in acrylic paint, sometimes I splash and smear ink over the surface. Sometimes I dribble oil or turpentine over the paint, sometimes water, sometimes nothing. Once the first mark is there, I stand back, look at it, think about it, sometimes leave it for a day or a week or even a month, before I return to it and continue making more marks.


     I think it was Michelangelo  who, when asked how he knew what to sculpt when faced with a pristine block of marble, said something along the lines of "The sculpture is already there in the stone. All I do is chip off the pieces that obscure it".


     I'm probably badly misquoting him. But if I look at all the painters I most admire - Pollock, Rothko, Warhol, Basquiat, Bacon and others, all seem to start in the same way. In the early years, Jean-Michel Basquiat never knew what he was going to paint until he scavenged the streets of Manhattan and found something to paint on: an old door, a piece for curtain. Even a fridge. 


     So my process begins with an accident. But, as Bacon so rightly points out, I then have to choose which part of that accident I want to preserve. In other words, that's where I start too impose meaning on the work. Or at least my meaning.


     Meaning is an interesting concept in art. Many people who first see my work, particularly the larger canvases, take great delight in telling me what they're about.


     "Those are two figures", "That's a knight with a bow", "A sad woman", "aa deil", "an angel", "a close".


     My answer is always the same "Whatever meaning you impose on the work is relevant. It doesn't really matter what I think about it"

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