Starting a brand new canvas

To begin a new painting you have
to spend time with the canvas before it is primed, before it has been worked
upon before there is even a mark on the blank, vacant, empty space.  This is uncorrupted fabric, pure and
reverential and you must respect the journey you are about to take in bringing
something new and powerful into the world.

Unpacking the canvas I rub my
hands over the flat surface searching for any blemishes.  I then roll it up into a loose roll and
standing on a chair unfurl it directly against the wall, pinning the top and
corners with drawing pins so it is flat against the wall.  I don’t like working on pre-primed or
stretched canvases as I like the solidity of the wall directly against the
canvas as it is easier to work on, stronger and more forgiving. 

I choose a 12oz un-primed canvas
as it is malleable and has the strength to fight against and unify with as the
painting develops.

The preparation process involves
smoothing the canvas from the centre to the edges, pinning the edges with
drawing pins until the canvas is flat against the wall without any loose

Smoothing the canvas with both
hands to search out and correct any blemishes commences a close relationship
with the canvas; that connection builds a trust between you and the canvas and
is the start of the formulation of ideas.

Using light grey water based house
paint I then apply thick applications of paint working from the centre of the
canvas in circular motions from the middle to the edges; the paint is quickly
absorbed but the motion from  middle to
edge ensures that the canvas naturally stretches itself and ensures that the
canvas does bubble and warp out of control. 
As the paint is drawn into the canvas some sections at the edge of the
canvas may stretch and the pins may need to be re applied or additional pins

Once this has been completed I
wait for 20 minutes to check the canvas isn’t warping then leave it for 24

Returning to the canvas the next
day I stand and look at it for sometimes 5 to 20 minutes just searching its
blankness and reflecting on my journey so far. 
This is the cathartic commencement of creativity; the reflective highs
and lows of what we have done as a human being; an animal of small victories
and regrets, a small cell of limited but optimistic consequence. 

I then sand the canvas down
smoothing it with rapid circular strokes before applying another coat of grey
paint which is much more rapidly applied now the first coat has been absorbed
and has dried. 

I chose grey paint because I like
working dark to light and I feel this is the best colour for me to balance my
bright colours against.  There is no
golden rule to this but you need to experiment to find out what works best for

Invisible Man

Standing here alone,
On the precipice of something
But Nothing happens

Vague sounds of the city
And outside life
Crawl around

But in here
On this stage
On this table
The Walls close in

Strangers stand and gawp
Through the window they all look through you
Wandering, meandering ghosts
Up Past the penitentiary
And this wilderness
So deliberately

The whispered abstract
Stutters of the street
Cloak the pavements
In the laughter of rain

As strangers pass
Pointing their stares into empty shop windows
Veils are drawn as shutters
Old pieces of papers with broken, smudged phone numbers
Cling on to frail strips of cellotape

They un-caged an animal when they liberated you

But I wish they wouldn’t stare

Breaking Through

It is time

To usher in a new beginning

As the dusty clock


Beneath the blue sky of

Vigorous recognition

Things do not stand still

And is not too late

Standing stark


In front of that


Untouched canvas

In a strange space of stasis

A zone where time and thought

Temporarily stand still

Where there is nothing there will
soon be something

But like our path in life I will
be in control to only a certain degree

The process of starting a new
painting is a truly existential, philosophical, empowering, egotistical,
nonsensical thing. 

A concept of creation
can be abstract, joyous, inspiring and bewildering.

Normally, if not always, I have no
true idea of what I am going to paint. 
The entire process is reliant upon my past experiences, my memories, my wealth
of deep-seated regrets and my blind optimism for future events.  All of those events cascade and bombard in
efficacy together, gradually imagining themselves into a story on the

I have been writing, sketching,
singing and observing for many, many years now. 
Gazing out of the window half way up the stairs as a boy, walking the
streets of Paris drinking wine and eating salad niçoise and looking out of the
window of bars and bistros in my 20s; sitting in parks and in hotel rooms
wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life.  What do I want? How can/dare I write? How can
I paint?  I can’t even draw! I have
always being compelled to do so. To keep creating, to keep trying, keep
working, keep thinking. 

To endure through oil on canvas despite all the other
many rudimentary episodes that rise and fall around us.

Somehow, in some way after so many
failures, trials; errors; small victories and steady glories all begin to fuse
and assemble into a voice that is uniquely yours.  The streets I’ve walked, the strangers who’s
lives I’ve passed, the bars and scrapes that I’ve been in, the women I’ve
loved, the friends I’ve loved all over the world; the joys that have laughed
vigorously from the cavern of my belly, the tears that have rolled thickly down
my cheeks. They all come together subliminally onto blank pages and coarse,
empty canvasses. 

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