My painting has developed on many levels. Before becoming a full-time painter, I worked as an architect planning and designing mostly healthcare projects.
I have studied at and attended painting workshops at The Federation of Canadian Artists, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in Vancouver BC and several in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, notably Jane Dill, Susan Santiago, Thomas Shaller, and Bob Burridge. I like to read and am writing a creative fiction novel. I have started to create another book including many of my design sketches from 1982 to 2003, which will be published late 2018. Also projected for 2018 is a colour book of my paintings which will include up to 50 acrylic and watercolour paintings. My other interests include playing the Classic Guitar, Art, and travelling where our most recent visits have been in Mexico, Europe, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.
I was born in England. My parents moved to Scotland when I was 11, where I spent my informative years including gaining a degree in Architecture at the Glasgow School of Architecture. I practiced Architecture in Scotland and Nigeria before moving to Vancouver BC in 1974, where I retired in 2013.
My places of work included Scotland, the Caribbean, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, the United States and Canada. The three years in Nigeria taught me much about applied arts and sculpture.
My wife and I have three children, and three grandchildren, 23, 20 and 12, as of 2018.
Now my wife and I split our time each year between Vancouver in the summer and San Miguel de Allende in the winter. About San Miguel Tom Robbins said
“If Dante had had the San Miguel experience, he may have written more about heaven and less about hell”
My paintings are intuitive, en plein air and impressionist working in mostly watercolours but sometimes in acrylics from the abstract to impressionist. I am engaged in two series of acrylic paintings named “Imagined Landscapes of Mexico”, and “Landscape Squares”. Also, a new series entitled “Landscapes of British Columbia”. In general my work spans a broad range of subjects and styles, including landscapes, buildings and seascapes. I attempt to create a feeling, an impression, rather than a picture, to evoke a deeper emotional response from the viewer. Recently, I found a new expression in acrylics, using joint compound (plaster) impressions of various shapes; and also using tissue paper, applying acrylic colours, cutting up the paper and applying the pieces to a gessoed board. The “Landscape Squares”” include these new, for me, approaches and applications to my art. Abstract painting is about memory, passion and expression.
I like to work in watercolour, with as much under-drawing as I can get away with. I like the unpredictability of a medium which is affected as much by humidity, gravity, the way that heavier particles in the wash settle into the undulations of the paper surface, as by whatever I wish to do with it. In other mediums you have more control, you are responsible for every mark on the page — but with watercolour you are in a dialogue with the paint, it responds to you and you respond to it in turn. This encourages an intuitive response, a spontaneity which allows magic to happen on the page. When I begin an illustration, I usually work up from small sketches — which indicate in a simple way, something of the atmosphere or dynamics of an illustration; then I create drawings on a larger scale. When I’ve reached a stage where the drawing looks complete enough I’ll transfer it to watercolour paper, but I like to leave as much unresolved as possible before starting to put on washes. This allows for an interaction with the medium itself, a dialogue between me and the paint. It’s fun to see where it goes!
“Between the Opening and the Closing there is a Sense of Clarity”
I have had four Art Shows; three in Vancouver and one in San Miguel de Allende. I have a fifth coming up in San Miguel de Allende at the end of February 2019, and a sixth in Vancouver in May 2019.
My paintings are in galleries and homes in San Miguel de Allende, the USA, Canada and the UK.
2016 Trafalgar’s Restaurant and Gallery, Vancouver BC, Canada.
2017 Meme Brooks Design Studio/Gallery, Vancouver BC, Canada.
2017 Galeria Bordello, Casa de la Noche, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico.
2018 Visual Space Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
1 Norm and Judy Thordensen, Friday Harbor and Camelback, Arizona, USA.
2 Meme Brooks, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
1 Atencion Newspaper, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico.
2 Georgia Strait, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
3 Galleries West, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
4 San Miguel News, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico.
5 Lokkal/San Miguel Events, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico.
6 Federation of Canadian Artists, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Some favourite watercolour quotations
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
“In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you’re in trouble.”
“Because watercolor actually moves on the paper, it is the most active of all mediums, almost a performance art.”
“Water colours are wet colours in water.”
“Everything about watercolor appeals to me, but perhaps above all, the peculiarities of the medium tend to challenge my efforts to control it… it’s more like a performance or a dance.”
“There’s so much versatility in watercolour. You allow the paint to roll around, and then drop in some colour, just one that takes your fancy, and watch it explode into a shape that morphs into something else… lots of fun.”
Some favourite quotations about acrylics
“Time is not the enemy with acrylics. Think of the fast-drying characteristics of the medium as an invitation to paint and repaint, until you see something you like.” (Brad Faegre)
“I miss that smell of an oil painter’s studio… Acrylic companies should put an interesting aroma in their product.” (Nina Allen Freeman)
“In acrylics, what you lose on the straights you make up for on the corners.” (Robert Genn)
“The worst thing about acrylics is that they dry fast, and the best thing about acrylics is that they dry fast.” (Debbie DeBaun)
“Acrylic is the only painting medium that can be all mediums – it can act like watercolour, it can act like oils, and it has its own innate properties.” (Andrew Hamilton)
“Acrylic has an ‘open-door policy’ – once you learn one thing about this medium, a door opens and you realize that the learning possibilities are endless.” (Earl Grenville Killeen)