Oils are a wonderful medium to work with when painting landscapes. The colours are softer and more subtle than acrylics and because the paint has a slow drying time this means you can work on paintings over the course of several days. I love the process of being able to move the paint around on the canvas, working with a palette knife to cut into the paint to reveal colours underneath and to build texture and depth. They are incredibly versatile and can be used as transparent layers that build up to produce a rich final colour or in a very immediate way with a palette knife. Originally, I always painted with watercolours until a friend, a fellow artist Paul Treasure, convinced me to try oils as they would offer me so many more options. I favour water mixable oils which are less smelly but behave in exactly the same way as traditional oil paints but can be cleaned with water.
I am inspired by the landscape around me and love the changing weather and moods that the countryside provides. I love clouds and the weight that a water laden cloud carries and its effect on the light in a landscape and how that changes the feel of a view. Trees are also a favourite and the changing seasons of their leaves and shape as they shed reveal their beautiful skeletons. I am always very inspired in Scotland, particularly the Outer Hebridean islands, were the weather changes rapidly and the landscape feels so raw and ancient. The colour of the sea and sky are spectacular.
When I see a moment that I want to capture when I am out walking I will take photographs and then work on a piece in my studio. I don’t work from one photograph but several and will sketch and use my memory of a place and my reaction to it. Looking at the work of other artists is also really useful as it introduces new ideas and ways of seeing and broadens your toolbox of techniques. My default position has always been to copy things exactly, so when I paint I am constantly trying to produce a more individual response and a more emotional one. Less is often so much more.