I am a painter based in Castlemaine, in central Victoria.

My practice is centred on portraiture. I paint self-portraits and portraits from life in my studio. In each work I seek to develop my portrait painting further, making incremental changes in scale, composition, colour, tone and imagery. I see my studio practice as an investigation into a genre which has great depth and possibility.

My earlier work was focused on the landscape genre. I worked on paper on site in the landscape, using ink, watercolour and gouache. In the future I would like to incorporate landscape elements in my portrait painting.

My work belongs to a humanist tradition which recognises painting from life to be an emotive and intellectual art form. I am influenced by the Impressionist and early Modernist painters working in France, especially Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso; and also the later English painters Lucian Freud and Stanley Spencer. Looking back further in time, I find the works of Thomas Gainsborough to be inspiring. For me, the strongest motivation comes from looking at the great paintings of the past.



My process is grounded in observation. My mark-making is a record of many moments of looking and thinking over an extended period of hours and days. I work slowly, paying attention to subtle shifts in flesh colour and tone. I give due attention to soft and hard edges, textural variations, and irregularities in the facial features. My work is a direct response and the expression of subjective experience.

When starting a portrait I spend time planning the composition and the combination of colours in my palette. I usually have a starting concept for the new painting but it is not a pre-determined idea of what the painting will ultimately look like, as my focus is on the painting process itself. The painting takes on a life of its own as it gradually evolves as an accumulation of brushmarks; the particular expression of each work arises out of the process.

Colour is important in my work and I use it to create form, space, and mood. I like juxtaposing complementary colours such as purple/yellow and red/green to model the figure and give vitality to the painting. I also like using the more neutral earth colours to represent subtly shifting flesh tones and to offset the brighter prismatic colours.

Cézanne has been the greatest model for my painting method. Every brushstroke of his was carefully considered. His technique was not systematic but it was rigorous. It was also varied: sometimes he worked wet in wet, sometimes wet on dry. He used warm/cool contrasts extensively for painting flesh.



Much of my work in the landscape has been on paper, typically to a large multi-sheet format. By the scale of this work, and by focusing on what is around and near me (working flat on the ground) I have sought to convey a sense of immersion, of my presence within the landscape. Landscape as environment. Quite small items close to me – saplings, sticks and leaves - can be represented as larger than life size, so that a monumental (while simultaneously intimate) quality infuses the subject.

The mood of my landscape work is somewhat conflicted. On the one hand I have sought an arcadian calm and a feeling for the domestic in my garden paintings. I am captured by the beauty of nature.

On the other hand, a strangeness, and a dream-like quality can be present in my work: plants that seem ‘alive’ like a creature curly and curving. The tangle of roots and branches, and bent and twisted trees and foliage can seem to me slightly menacing. An uncertain feeling can enter the work. My work may appear poised between a dream and a nightmare. Does nature’s beauty suggest a place benign, or do these gnarled trees and convulsing branches, and the claustrophobic tangle suggest some hard to define threat? 

While my landscape painting is essentially naturalistic, I draw on two artistic traditions that underpin mood and expression: the Romantic and the surreal. I am drawn to the mysterious wild of the Romantic and the strange and disturbing quality of the surreal. These different traditions relate to the ambiguity of mood in my work.

Painting in the landscape is a unique experience, vastly different to working in the studio. The natural world provides a place where contemplation and refreshment can occur away from the distractions and preoccupations of our society. Observing and painting what I see in nature with my own eyes, over many hours, I am more aware of my independent consciousness.