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There's an amazing thing that happens when you paint someone's portrait.

You sit and gaze at them, hour after hour, seeing deeper than the reflection of light off their skin, more than the curve of the mass of their facial bones, right through the glint of your own reflection in their eyes. You start to see something inside and then through your subject. Something universal.

And then you fall in love.

It's strange. You're not falling in love with your sitter, but with who they represent, who you have forgotten how to see.

The Spirit of Life.

Humanity itself.

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Narrative painting has taken a beating over the last century.  It's the last resort of the literal, the graveyard of the obvious. Or so they say.

But we love stories. We love to tell them, and to hear them told. Narrative painting lives in the best of both of those worlds, that of the storyteller, and that of the audience.

A good painting invites you into the picture. You engage, your imagination fires up. You ask yourself: "What is this painting really all about?"

At that point you become a co-creator with the artist. The artist sets up the story, but in your mind, you tell the tale.

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Sometimes the hardest part of the life of the artist is simply to commit to your own vision. The glimpse we are afforded by the muse is seldom absolutely clear. 

More often than not it's a thought, or a passing feeling, a flash in the darkness that draws our attention away from the babble of life and gives us reason enough to stop and take stock.

This then is a collection of thoughts followed, or ephemera held for just a moment. These are the individual pieces that come from hearing, "I'm important, look at me." Whether they are important or not resides in what remains to be seen. 

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There is much comfort in dreams, and there is pain in the wound of their loss. Yet there is comfort in knowing that losing a dream means waking to a reality. 

Dreams are both personal and corporate, addressed to us as individuals and at the same time speaking into the hopes and fears of our life of community. 

This body of work sets three goals. The first is simplification of the image. The second is to challenge a deeper response in the viewer by associating words with the images. The third goal is to set a boundary of twenty six works, each  a letter of the alphabet.  

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One of the delights of painting is seeing things fresh and for the first time.

I live in an exquisite garden environment, a small gem that is bordered by the Klein Jukskei River just outside of Johannesburg in South Africa.

I spend most of my day, when I'm not painting in my studio, communing with my muse who often meets me outside down at the River.

She reveals things to me that I try to communicate through my paintings. These six small works are part of that process.


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The artist, first and foremost, is an observer of the world around him. He looks hard at things most other people take for granted. Then comes the work of interpreting the information and communicating it in a way that either clarifies or clouds.

Plein Air is a French term coined by the Impressionists to describe the act of painting outdoors, directly from nature. It's difficult, the artist has to deal with shifting light and needs to work quickly and accurately in often adverse conditions.

This is the anatomy of a painting I made recently in the bottom of my garden, next to the river.

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Travelling to the South of France, brushes in hand, I wasn't the first painter to cross an ocean in search of that iridescent light of Provence. 

I painted in the historical company of Whistler, Van Gogh, Sargent, Cassat, Sisley, Picasso and so many others.

Why go all that way? In my studio in South Africa my working palette is often monochromatic, dark, full of earth colors. In France it's a chromatic wonderland. The scenes I paint en plein air reflect the freedom that I feel when I'm there. 

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Portraits gallery
Narrative Gallery
Alphabet Of Dreams Gallery
River Thoughts
Making of Painting
French Connection
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