Having been born in South Africa, then from age 16 lived in South Wales, UK for some years and feel these formative experiences have given me an affinity to landscape, open spaces, skies and the feeling of that mystery of what may lay beyond the next horizon.
I have been committed to painting and image making all of my professional working life through various disciplines of stage set scenery-painting, stained glass window designing/glass-painting, always working to deadlines, but all through this has been a love of outdoor painting 'en plein air'. I chiefly use oil paint but watercolour is an indispensable medium too.
Painting outside, on site, is a demanding way of working but the rewards are hugely satisfying. One cannot predict the outcome and the result is often a surprise. The deadline with Plein Air work is imposed mainly by changing light and weather. A painting may frequently be accomplished in one session but after 2hrs the light changes so much it needs to be brought to a conclusion. Sometimes a second sitting is possible or necessary to bring it to a better conclusion. It is the nature of a the limited time and changing light which forces one work speedily, achieving results in composition, tone and colour, more by instinct than conscious deliberation.
It is worth saying that at times the session can even feel a failure as it doesn't nearly match the breathtaking splendour we may see before us. However I should stress that the end result really needs to be judged afterward, away from the subject, a day or two later so the painting stands as an object in it's own right. The onlooker will never see the precise situation which has been painted so the painting must speak wholly independently of that time, revealing something born through a unique experience, revealed through composition, colour and brushstrokes.
Years ago someone said to me "It isn't what is painted but how it is painted which is important" and that is very true. Paradoxically, painting en plein air, although a relaxation activity, in a sense often takes much concentration and effort. But I think something of the struggle is revealed in the finished painting that can even add to the work's strength.
The joy and the paradox of painting en plein air is that it can be both a real effort and yet also a relaxation activity at the same, because by focusing on painting one so often finds oneself in a peaceful and almost timeless zone, very close to nature and 'living in the moment'.