I come from a theatrical background. I’m half Irish and my childhood home was a place where extraordinary things happened. It was an environment where my brothers and I seemed bound to do something unusual. I’m very grateful for that.
Drawing was the original expression. I would draw an awful lot, trying to emulate other artists, to understand how they created what they did; but sketching it was and remained to be, until I found the mettle to use colour.
This happened long before I studied at Wimbledon School of Art and Kingston University. Having stubbornly lived in the world of black and white, I finally made myself paint – all exuberant enthusiasm and no clear direction. However, I had a breakthrough when I was 18 years old. I had painted for some time by then, but this was the first time I had made a painting so seriously, with no experimentation, just care and an urgent responsibility to get it right. It was a portrait of my Dad, and without sign or suggestion, I leapt years ahead to produce something my 18 years could have thwarted. This was the turning point. It was no longer a case of just loving painting, but realising that I could be good at it.
It changed everything. Painting replaced drawing completely. I only drew again at college and again, gave it up when I left. I think that I had spent so much time making preliminary studies with pencil or charcoal, opposing the commitment of using colour, I now paint immediately, considering preparatory sketches unnecessary.
I became an illustrator shortly after leaving college and received a national award. The need to tackle an unlimited range of subject matter, was a very useful experience. I learned a lot in painting what I did not want to, as well as what I loved.
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