During my formative years in Italy, I was very drawn to artists such as Botticelli, Duccio, Piero Della Francesca and Fra Angelico (to name but a few) as I was surrounded by their beautiful work. Some of these artists used a technique called egg tempera which had always intrigued me.
Many years later when I had returned to London, my dear friend and neighbour Fernando Montes, taught me this technique. At the time I was at home enjoying my family and spending time with my two little boys so it came as an unexpected pleasure to meet him and find my way back to painting. Fernando, one of Bolivia’s most distinguished artists, was drawn to the Bolivian high Andes and painted evocative landscapes of quiet contemplation. This was a feeling I could relate to and wished to explore.
After mastering the art of making gesso panels and my own colours, I joined the ‘Egg Tempera Society’ and for a while devoted myself exclusively to this medium. Egg tempera allows the artist to build up a painting in slow transparent layers that remain luminous, clear and do not lose their graphic quality; the colours have a jewel like quality.
I then started exploring oils and soft pastels which opened up very different possibilities. It was so liberating to add new mediums as it offered more variety of expression and with this more freedom of choice. I often like to start from a set of drawings as I feel these are a helpful way of gathering information. It is also fun to be painting en plein air, surrounded by the elements and responding in a very direct way to nature.
I love to share what I find emotionally touching and it is wonderful to see a response in the viewer. The beauty of mountains in stormy weather, a landscape close to my heart, goes beyond what it depicts – it can summon an essential feeling of awe or fear – it induces contemplation. Painting flowing water can become as intimate as painting a portrait and communicate the endless need to adapt and the uniqueness of each response to circumstances.
There is so much to be learnt from looking at something over a period of time and this exploring search can feel like a meditative process. I have always felt very lucky that my interest in looking is always there and it comes from the sheer pleasure and curiosity of it. Inspiration is all around me and I often find mystery and the opportunity to learn something new in all sorts of places. Moments of seeing create magic which make me feel alive and allow a sense of participation in my life.