“How do you decide what to paint?” That question fascinates me. I paint ‘intuitively,’ meaning that when I begin a work, I don’t have a set idea of what I am going to produce; I start painting and see what happens, making choices as the work develops. (I used to say, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, I just begin to paint and trust it will work out somehow,” but I think “painting intuitively” sounds better!)
This first painting is an example of what I’ve ended up with using this process. I certainly didn’t have an image of this in my mind when I began to paint . . . so where did it come from? It looks a bit to me like an aerial view of land masses, oceans and clouds, but others might see something completely different. My best guess is that everything I’ve ever taken in visually is stored somewhere in my brain and when I make art, bits and pieces come out, mixed together in a new form.
Then last summer, I was introduced to photographs of thin sections of rocks, as seen through a polarized-light microscope. I was astounded by the variety of colours, shapes, and textures and immediately thought, “These look like abstract art!” So I decided to try going back to the way I used to paint, except instead of working from a photo of a landscape, I took my inspiration from these images of rocks. Doing so has introduced some new shapes and colours into my work, but the process of working from a reference photo rather than simply my imagination feels quite strange—I can almost sense different parts of my brain firing!