I use a lot of different digital tools to create my art. You could say that my process is more like an orchestra than a trio or quartet. An orchestra is richer and more full-bodied with subtle complexities that charm the ear.
Complexity with its subtle nuances and tones are a constant theme in my work. As such, I use many different programs and “plugins” in my devotion to pleasuring the eye with little nuggets and flavours and sweet things.
Some of the tools are programs like Photoshop, Corel Painter and Paint shop Pro — and the Python scripting language in Paint shop Pro.
Other tools are the various plugins and filters that can be used from within Photoshop and Paint shop Pro.
My approach is a slow, meandering stream of techniques and experimentation, which makes it virtually impossible to give a step-by-step narrative.
Often I use a digital camera to capture material for my work — mostly looking for abstract textures, colours and shapes that can be incorporated into my paintings.
After many manipulations, the subject of the photo is seldom recognizable, although sometimes I can spot elements that I can mentally reconstruct as being from a particular photo.
For example, Shadow Dance contains part of a photograph of a fountain in a children’s park that was painted in rainbow colours.
On the other hand, Promise Me, has been so manipulated and massaged that I couldn’t, for the life of me, name one source photograph that was used.
There really is no final painting, everything keeps getting reused for the next stream. Each image is just a snapshot of a particularly interesting feature of the journey.
One technique that I am very fond of is cropping a small section from a photo or previous work and then blow it up to my favourite working size of 16 inches x 20 inches.
This often creates some interesting artifacts that I can later embellish or smooth over in Corel Painter — or just leave as is if I find them pleasing.
This process evolved from an old DOS program that I used to play with back in the early 90’s called Fractint. Fractint would generate incredibly beautiful fractal patterns. You could zoom in on any small portion of the image and then generate an entirely new image. You could do this an infinite number of times and get an endless stream of fantastically beautiful images.
Around this same period of time, I read Richard Dawkin’s beautiful book, The Blind Watchmaker, and became obsessed with his biomorph program. I implemented a version of it on my Amiga and spent many years creating evolutionary art. The idea of ‘breeding’ art really captured my imagination.
I brought the philosophy of evolutionary art forward into my current work where I take the DNA of one image and incorporate it into a whole stream of images.
Another descriptive way of talking about my process is that it is a kind of visual jam, where I am playing off my visual environment and having a conversation with it, much like the different voices of the instruments in a jazz jam session.
For me, this process is a spiritual exploration, a meditation on the vivid and powerful insights that arise from abiding in primordial, pure presence. It takes me to the same place that religion does for others. Art is my religion.
As I proceed along the creation of a stream of images, sometimes one pops out that is so real and so beautiful that it takes my breath away and I am transported to a place of pure perfection. The world is transformed into a celestial palace of rainbow light.