Q. How would you define your work in three words?
Upbeat, narrative, individual.
Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?
I work mostly in oils. Originally, it was Jonathan Cooper at Park Walk Gallery who suggested it when he gave me my first show in 2002. Before that I was using acrylics for painting murals. Once I started working with oils I completely fell in love with them. Oils are more opulent, luscious, and because they don’t dry so quickly you have more time to manipulate the paint.
Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?
I love travelling and this has provided enormous inspiration for my work. I spent three months travelling around India in my early twenties and was lucky enough to be invited back about 4 years ago. Seeing the Indian Mogul miniatures had a massive impact on my work, I love their exquisite sense of colour, pattern and design as well as the way they are narrative pieces.
I’m often asked where do my ideas come from, as the paintings are often wide ranging in subject matter. They have been described as quintessentially English and quirky. They have a lot of humour and a slight sense of the ridiculous and as someone said I seem to have a boundless imagination – the truth is this is what goes on in my head all the time! I also think growing up in Ireland was enormously beneficial, the Irish are such wonderful people and have a great sense of humour.
Also growing up in the countryside there surrounded by lots of animals, wildlife, and visiting incredible gardens, a love of nature has always stayed with me.
Q. Take us through your working process.
I think the best way to describe my working process is how I go about working towards a show. For each show I chose a theme. Maybe because I originally trained as an illustrator. For this latest show the theme is Love. Once I have the idea for the show, all the paintings spring from that. I compose the paintings in my head, usually they come completely formed at three in the morning after a few hours sleep.
I jot them down on a pad beside my bed, thinking genius idea – then looking at them the next morning and invariably thinking not! From these small sketches, I scale up to the size of the painting, drawing onto tracing paper. The internet is so amazing to find all the reference I need. It used to be endless trips to the library. Once I’m happy with the drawing I transfer this onto the canvas having already painted the background which has dried.
Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?
I never expected to be a gallery artist, it was Jonathan Cooper who gave me that opportunity seeing something in me and letting me run. So my first ‘work of art’ I think would have to be a piece from my first show with him. The theme was Fables and Tales, the painting I would choose from that was “The Cormorant and the Fishes”, this shows the influence that Indian Mogul miniatures, with their sense of design and story telling has had on me.