For me, painting is about perception of the visual world and getting some kind of equivalent in terms of paint, in a coherent and telling way.
Most of my work now centres on landscape or still life. Colour, tones, shapes, intervals, lines or angle of these abstract elements suggest an idea for a picture and the means by which to tackle it.
I paint from oil sketches done on the spot or, increasingly, from drawings or colour notes.
I have always aimed at seeing any subject as a colour harmony. I use oil paint as a thick, clotted material brushed with broken edges so that objects and colours in the picture emerge from a mass of abstract marks, leaving the viewer in no doubt that they are looking at a painting.
MY FRENCH CONNECTION
Originally from England where he graduated from art college, Alan moved to Australia 30 years ago and lives in Ballarat, Victoria.
His French connection is through family, his mother was French – from Menton (Alpes-Maritimes) and his father half-French (his mother – Alan’s grandmother – from Loches in Touraine, a dancer who appeared at the Folies Bergère). Alan also owns a small maison du village in Les Arcs-sur-Argens, in Provence.
His work can vary from rich colour mixes to moody hues and his eye is caught by the unexpected patterns and harmonies of nature, the man-made environment and interiors. Alan uses a variety of mediums and has created his own range of paints and pastels from earth pigments for his abstract works.
He has won a number of awards, including selection for London’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. His work can be found in private and public collections in Australia, UK, Europe, USA and Canada.
The paintings in My French Connection are part of a current series based on drawings and oil sketches made by the artist on his annual visits over the past eight years.
His Provenҫal landscapes mostly feature the medieval village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, The town is overlooked by a 12thcentury chateau and the steep streets and passages leading up to it provide unusual perspectives. Located beside the wide Argens River valley, Les Arcs is surrounded by hills and vineyards.
Alan says of his work: “I was raised in England, but visited France frequently because of my French relatives. I was always good at art as a child and remember attempting my first landscapes from my mother’s house near Menton (on the Italian border) at the age of five. I’ve loved Provence ever since.”
Of his aims and working methods, he explains: “For decades I painted directly in front of the subject in all weathers, including snow in England and 40-degree heat in Australia. However in recent years, I mostly create larger paintings based on small oil studies, or drawings – often with colour descriptions.
“I will make coloured lines to accentuate the structure and angles of buildings or perhaps simple areas of flat tones in other paintings. Sometimes I’ll use an Impressionist patchwork of paint where appropriate, thus allowing the subject itself to play its part in the overall effect I want to achieve. Above all, I aim to realise the colour harmony, which sparked the idea of the painting in the first place.
“Finally, I never use photographs. Drawing, once mastered, is the key to discovering and understanding the visual world in one’s own way. In figurative painting, the artist’s perception alone is everything.”