I love exuberance in art. I like to look at a painting and share some of the intensity of the moment when the artist first contemplated the idea. A painting may have been carefully planned and painstakingly produced but I don't wish to know that. I like artworks which look as though its creator really didn't stop to think, but had to get on with it... even if that isn't the case at all in reality.
I suppose ever since Van Gogh went out under the beating hot sun of Provence that sense of urgency and spontaneity he portrayed has been a highly desirable quality in contemporary art.
There are of course wonderfully skilful, hyper-realistic artworks which are hard to distinguish from photographs, and these are tremendously popular... but they don't make my heart sing. There seems little justification to me in spending long periods of time achieving what a freely available piece of equipment (i.e. a camera) can achieve in seconds.
However, there are some aspects of a painting which are very important to me and which I try very hard to get right. My aim is to achieve an overall freshness which disguises the careful planning and forethought!
Place is very important in my landscape paintings. My work is usually bought by people who know the location very well, and visitors to my studio will often not only recognise a particular hill, but will know which hill it is painted from.
So however bright the colours and sketchy the detail, I always pay attention to the topography. I like to know that the land lies true: that it 'works' in terms of light and shadow, the rise and fall of the hills, the tumbling of the water. The rocks must sit heavy on the ground, they should tumble convincingly, the paths should be inviting.
One way to achieve this is by careful drawing. I usually draw the view at least once before I start work on the actual painting. If I go away and come back to it at this stage, it is usually obvious if I have misjudged the shapes, or if the snake of a path is not convincing.
Once I am working on the painting, other factors come into play. Is there enough tonal contrast? Can I forgo the detail in the foreground to concentrate attention on the focal point?
It feels like living dangerously!
Somehow it still seems preposterous to present a sketchily finished painting which doesn't have the careful attention to detail which I know some people crave...
Sometimes it is just difficult to be confident that a painting is finished, that I don't have to carry on spelling it out...
But sometimes it just works and that's wonderful.