Many people have asked me ‘why do you paint’ , and the answer is simple – ‘because I have to !’.
Why do I paint what I do paint , and why always Greece , is a much more complex answer ……..
My love affair with Greece and the Greek Islands started over 40 years ago; from the first flight to Greece, and that smell of warm peaches when leaving the plane , made it love at first sight .
The light is intense, and even on the rainiest of days , the light is there making colours sing.
Those emotions I feel are often about colours, light, shade, and of those fleeting moments , like seeing a rainbow in the crest of a breaking wave, the wind rippling the surface of the sea creating purple eddies in an expanse of turquoise .
Being on an island is different to being on the mainland. The weather changes almost by the hour , and the colours with those changes. One can look at the same expanse of sea , and the changes in colour are limitless.
After holidaying on many small islands in greece , the love affair grew and grew – the sketches and drawings piled up , and the challenge of capturing a moment , and my emotions at that moment , is a lifelong obsession.
Having drawn and painted all my life, an excelled at detailed , almost photographic sketches and paintings, Capturing the moments and my feelings , couldn’t be recorded in these traditional ways . it took too long to paint the details whilst sitting somewhere that I lost the emotional content . Sure people loved the sketches and paintings, because they were figurative, they looked like what they were – A greek fishing boat, a greek church , a taverna etc . By the time I had painted the sea , the colours had changed so many times, so i was never happy with the result . So I stopped painting in situ, and started looking – a lot !
I look for hours, noticing the fleeting incidences, the changing lights and colours, the wind and shadows . My friend says I have ‘colour memory’ – the ability to remember colours , their subtlety , and nuance. But to me , colour memory is a part of the story; shape , form, and emotion are the other elements I try to capture.
I am very conscious that I am making marks on a flat surface, be it canvas or paper . I like to use a wide range of materials together , and use traditional brushes alongside my hands, and pouring paint, dribbling paint , and throwing paint . Sometimes I burn off paint with bleach or other caustics to get the surface stains and marks i am seeking . No medium is out of bounds !
For myself , knowing when to stop , is the most difficult decision of all . One can get so wrapped up in the moment, that the painting ends up confused and not what I was after . I consciously stop myself adding detail on top of detail [ my natural inclination] so as not to lose that moment.
People say my work is abstract. To me it isn’t . Sometimes the images are figurative , but from a different angle or perspective , so might make the viewer have to work a little to see it . My influences are many , from Francis Bacon, Arnaulf Rainer, Rothko to Monet, Matisse and Dufy encompassing Japanese art, Bauhaus, and Aubrey Beardsley . As an ex fashion designer I love pattern, but throughout my fashion career , really loved the conceptual collections of designers who pushed the boundaries.
I must say something about emotions and feelings – Sometimes I look at something in my island home of Naxos , maybe sunrise, sunset, a rainy day, my garden …… and I am overwhelmed with the feeling of wonder and joy ; more often than not , it is the sea around Naxos . Maybe [ and I think it has] its about living and being in Greece, with Greek friends who see what I see . One of my proudest moments was during my exhibition here in Naxos – an old man wondered in , on his way to pay his water rates , he asked what was happening , I told him it was an exhibition of paintings , i gave him the titles in greek , and he slowly went round the exhibition . Just before leaving he said ‘ This is Naxos, I see the colours , you have captured Naxos perfectly ‘.