On Light



My paintings are all about light and the changing qualities of light within the landscape.  I find there is most drama when you have the fall of light on water – sudden scalpels appearing from nowhere.  I visit the West Coast of Scotland whenever I can, in particular the coastline around Crinan, looking out towards Jura, Scarba and Islay.   I can sit with my sketchbook for hours waiting for that glimpse of broken cloud to illuminate a distant mountain view or isolated patch of sea, watching a storm front come in from the Atlantic, bringing with it great gusts of wind and rain - swathes of light moving across the sea.  The dramatic plays of light against dark are what I try to distill in my drawings and paintings later on in the studio. 

I paint with oils or egg tempera, or both, depending on my mood or what panels I have available.  My preference is to work with egg tempera on chalk gesso panels.  This is a more laborious technique but I love the luminosity of egg tempera – building up layers of veiled glazes and then scraping back repeatedly to expose light areas.  Panels are often reworked several times, it can be quite a destructive process, sanding back multiple layers of paint and reworking areas until the painting feels more resolved and the light takes on its own immediacy and energy.  Something I can’t put into words, but it happens almost subconsciously, most often when I am at the point of giving up.  Sometimes it all goes wrong - I’ve scraped too far and damaged the panel or I’ve lost the thread of what I’m trying to do.  Then something magical can happen - a little bit like waiting in the interminable Scottish weather - until that glimpse of light appears, finally illuminating and anchoring everything.