A New Genre - Surreal Nature
An artist’s artwork, I firmly believe should change and evolve. Artists who produce popular commercial artwork become pressured into creating similar types of work over and over again because it is financially lucrative. Since I started my career, I have taken numerous choices (in some cases turning down opportunities) to keep my freedom of creativity. That is part of the excitement of being an artist, the unknown of where your creative path will take you, and mine frequently surprises me. I do not always know where it will develop in the future, my focus is only what I am doing in the here and now.
It was a slight surprise to me that my artwork has taken a surreal turn. This sentence may surprise some of you and wonder why it surprises even me as the artist. This is because if you truly embrace your creativity without outside influence, it is not a conscious decision that is made. At least once a month, often more, I sit in my studio, in the garden or in a café with my journal and a pen or pencil and, in a professional way, doodle. These “doodles” are letting my mind wander and simply explore new ideas. Obviously, they are slightly more complex than a traditional doodle, because although they come from my imagination, without reference, they include subjects and details from whatever I am studying from life at the time.
These elements can find themselves morphed and changed into experimental compositions, although sometimes they ultimately come to nothing. Others get developed into drawings and then onto paintings. This is how I generate the majority of my ideas through an intuitive and subconscious way. I do get the occasional “lightning strike” idea, through which most people believe that artists have all the time, but this isn’t usually how it works. They are great when they happen, but not frequently enough to sustain a living. Annoyingly mine often occur at 2 or 3 am in the morning, so I have to get up draw or write it down so I can return to sleep!
Let’s return to my new genre of surrealism. With help from a friend, I am calling it ‘surreal nature’. My work is still about nature and natural forms, and I think this will be the case for the rest of my life, however I have begun, as some of you may be aware, to incorporate parts of the human form into my artwork. These often take the form of body parts, faces, which are combined with flowers, trees and insects into artworks that have a flowing composition. It is surreal because I am juxtaposing elements of nature together in an unlikely way.
I am giving all these natural elements in the artwork an equal status to each other within the drawing or painting, so that a person is no more or less than important than a flower or insect. These artworks currently are in two series of work, ‘Dance of Nature’ and ‘Portraits of Nature’.
This body of work began in July 2022 when I visited the Masculinity exhibition at the V&A, London and saw a man dancing on a video, which made me think of the flow of energy. The dancer’s movements were beautifully fluid and made me think of how energy moves through nature (this was not the artists intention for the video). From this inspiration I went home to the studio and started drawing how I could show the importance of flow of energy through nature and natural forms, and so the ‘Dance of Nature’ series was born.
At the beginning of 2023, I began the ‘Portraits of Nature’ series, which looks at human portraits combined with natural forms. They are surreal in nature, because they are combining both complete, incomplete, and slightly abstracted natural forms together in an intertwined composition. These are presented as drawings, watercolours and oil paintings as shown below.
‘Dance of Nature’ Series
The ‘Dance of Nature’ series looks at the flow of energy through nature and combines flowers, leaves and trees with the human form, which are inextricably intertwined. Each composition is commenting on how humanity is intrinsically linked with the landscape around them and how we are a part of nature, affected by the cycles within it.
There is a constant flow of energy within nature which humanity is just one part. Other parts include the water and carbon cycles, and the regeneration of birth and death. To find out more about this series of work read my blog about the 'Dance of Nature' here. Click on each image below to find out more about it,
‘Portraits of Nature’ Series
'Portraits of Nature' is a series about humanity. We ARE nature. In between the flowers and leaves in these paintings and drawings you will find faces of people. I firmly believe that humanity needs to live at one with nature, care for it on an everyday basis in order to halt the environmental crisis we are facing. Very few of us can make any large gestures to help climate change, as the pressure of the economy on our lives is too great. However, there are many things we can do which are within our control; we can choose to buy and consume goods more consciously, we can choose not to mow, we can choose not to weed or put pesticides such as weed killer in our gardens. We can care for the immediate ecosystem that we interact with every day in our lives.
Humanity so frequently thinks of itself as above or apart from nature, whereas instead we are simply the top predator of the food chain. This makes us incredibly vulnerable because humanity is reliant upon on all the smaller creatures in the food chain to support our survival. Unfortunately, the climate crisis is making the food chain vulnerable and unstable. We ARE nature. We need to care for everything in the ecosystem, so it remains strong and plentiful benefiting both us and other species. By thinking of ourselves as simply another vulnerable species within nature, I believe we would consciously take more care of it.
I have created the artworks below with pencil, watercolour and ink. I have used pencil, because sometimes we don’t need any colour; the composition and the expressions on the faces are enough. I am well known for my use of colour, and I have enjoyed using watercolour for it’s delicacy, translucency and a sense of fragility in this series, rather than my normal oil paint. The compositions are created by allowing my imagination to evolve naturally, they are not contrived, but created in more of a doodle frame of mind, and then worked up in either pencil or watercolour. Shading and colour is added intuitively to create a sense of emotion.
My artworks have been created to view and marvel the richness of nature, so that you can have the wonder of nature in your home or office for you to enjoy every day. They are colourful relaxing artworks that give you some peace and escapism to our busy lives. Click on the image below to find out more about it,