Follow the Leader depicts one of our favourite companion species, Cockatiels, flying free. I love painting birds in flight, because, after all, that is their special talent. A bird in flight is seamlessly part of the sky and the grace and joy of flight never fails to lift my spirits.
I am happiest with my work when my paintings bring together many things that I love. These include, firstly, a delight in the natural world surrounding me. The Gold Coast hinterland is an area rich in sub-tropical forests and streams, full of life, colour and pattern. Layers of colour and pattern underlie my paintings, often combining natural plant forms with other elements from different times and cultures. My current work brings together a diverse range of influences including Asian philosophy and traditional art, textile pattern, bird-watching and the phenomenology of perception. As with most of my current work, this painting includes some areas of reflective metallic paint which gives the painting a changeable appearance under different light conditions. My work goes through four processes (at least) Firstly, I create an abstract colour background with fluid paint or ink to create organic effects. Then I work with my ever growing library of custom made stencils and masks – sometimes plant forms, sometimes abstract or classical patterns. In creating these backgrounds, which I think of as abstract paintings in their own right, I try to build up interesting layers of forms, patterns and colours, so that the eye looks through depths of space, and nothing is fully grasped in the instant. When I am happy with the background, then it is time to consider what bird subject it suggests to me. I paint the birds as realistically as my skills permit. I enjoy the contrast of a realistically detailed and modeled bird "popping" out of an abstract painting. The final stage is to re-balance the work tonally so that the subjects sit happily with the background. Unframed, ready to hang.
Follow the Leader – Cockatiels
Lithographic ink, aerosol and oil paint on stretched canvas