Photo Owen Tozer

In my constant quest for images of self – expression I am aware of the numerous examples of subject matter that have fascinated painters over the centuries. Not only subject matter, but mediums as well. I have worked in most types including oils, with their wonderfully evocative smell of turpentine. My mother taught me the joys and subtleties of pastels with amazing blending properties that can best express the subtle forms of the nude or portrait. One of the fundamental aspects in the development of an image is how that image is designed. This is where the artist’s sketchbook comes into play.


In my work I need to pre-plan. I therefore draw up many ideas before committing myself to the final plan. This is stage one in the sequence needed to develop an idea. Watercolour is an unforgiving medium that is prone to go off the rails if not kept under some kind of control. The sketchbook is like the jottings of a writer, or the notational musings of a composer. I draw practically anything that moves and most that do not. I play around with the arrangement of shapes, whether to include certain elements, or not. Rambling really. I like to do all my composing in the sketchbook then, once I am satisfied that I have something that clicks and could work for me I will transfer the image to the larger format for a painting.


I have often mused on the word drawing. To draw attention to? Draw someone towards? Interestingly, to draw a line is like pointing at something to draw the observer’s attention. Lines therefore in a composition are the boundaries of forms straight, curved, interlocking with other lines. I use these lines to draw the viewers eye towards my centre of interest. In French to draw is “ Dessiner”  which is the same as our word to Design – essentially to organise, to compose. My drawings are fundamental to me to rationalise my emotions.