I have trained myself to clear my mind to enter into a trance state to allow my paintings to materialise from the subconscious. Through this process I was finding that people and animals kept appearing in my paintings without me consciously creating them. I trained with a medium for ten years, in what is known as a psychic circle. Guests, known as “sitters” would come on a weekly basis to seek information from the trainee mediums and I learnt to make drawings, otherwise known as “auragraphs”. By getting myself out of the way I allow my “spirit guide” (or whatever it may be) to guide my hand and thoughts. The colours, images and positions of elements are the vocabulary that is used to give information on the sitter and I am able to talk to him or her about what the piece reveals about them.
In my studio I have been making series of paintings that I call Auto-Trance Portraits. I work in acrylic on wood or paper, and get into my flow “tuning into” one individual. Sometimes it can be through a piece of paper that they have written on, like in the body of work for Deptford Stories, other times it could be through a photograph of them, even antique photos, such as for Apartment and other recent paintings, and sometimes it is through just thinking about them. The paintings tend to be an encapsulation of the individual’s life with details emerging through patient observation and benefitting from being re-visited with an open mind.
I attended weekly classes held by the visionary artist, Cecil Collins. He and Mark Tobey had created a technique that encouraged the abandonment of any conscious control to allow chance and natural expression. I found the simultaneous use of both hands in his process very useful as it trained both sides of the brain – co-operate, creating a harmonious union of the analytical and intuitive.
The way I make my paintings is influenced by that training. Now I seek to play with the interface between figuration and abstraction, coming in and out of focus through rhythm, colour, shape and texture. The work is never fixed, but in a state of flux. If the viewer relaxes their mind, marks and gestures can describe a face, or a profile, animal or creature. The paintings are catalysts that stimulate the subconscious mind to reveal archetypes, and yet, in a different state of mind, different things can appear. The images are not pre-conceived, I get into my rhythm, applying colour and brushstrokes, aiming to express the intuitive and spontaneous.
The fact that I am also a therapist, with that insight and focus on transformation may be relevant. For a person is not only physical (figurative and of the surface, the conscious), but also of the abstract (subconscious), so there is a fusion between conscious and sub-conscious. I find that dialogue very engaging as it continuously creates opportunities for exploration and discovery. The Colour and Curve paintings (1994-2006) tried to capture the Sacred Feminine and veered more towards figuration. The Loss series (2006-2007) went further into the subconscious by letting go of having to pin anything down (in a figurative sense) in order to commune with “the other” (whatever that may be) and the Manifestation paintings were a continuation of that process. The Auto Trance paintings are where I connect to particular people or things and subsequently the marks and colours describe their story.