Left hemisphere / mere words



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy paintings are like notes from the Unconscious, as I try to understand the experience of this sensual world.

 Being a psychiatrist, that work involves searching for the deeper narrative behind and below what my patients describe to me. Seeing it, feeling it, calling it by name and finally holding it long enough to work with the story. The same process is happening in my art practice.

Although my style has become more unbound, organic and sculptural over time, the underlying theme has always been a meditation on the felt experience of human being. The felt experience (as opposed to the analytical deconstruction of our lives) is what is both terrifying in it’s painful grandeur as well as electrifying in its promise of beauty and truth.

 Our lives are surface phenomena that suggest a deeper story and each painting seeks out the bedrock arc of a day, a week, a year as may be. Just as each session of psychotherapy seeks the resonances from the Deep of the human Unconscious. I gave up trying to completely separate my work as a psychiatrist and my work as a painter once I realised they involve a similar seeking after Depth. Truth. Presence.

The universal language of colour, figure and form coalesce into these blocks of Time called “paintings”, Time and Space apparently captured inside 4 lengths of wood and heavy layers of paint, accented with natural objects such as stones, bark and other detritus.

 Each painting has an emotional tone and a degree of conflict between chaos and order, just the same as each day provides a similar interplay of head and heart, bookended by dawn and dusk. “


“My technique involves “hitting” the canvas and leaving it. Hit and run. Find a place to recuperate and rehydrate as my canvases are often large and I travel through many layers over days to weeks. I wear a gas mask and sweat it out. The music is probably on the strong side.

 I collaborate with the forces of perseverance and win over the better angels of our nature : experience, inspiration, freedom of action, daring, refusal to give up on a painting. I am a veteran of many failed campaigns in which the rubbish picture becomes the underlay of a memorable success.

My technique is “Get Out of Your Own Way”…….if you have an eye for colour and form, and you can turn down the volume of your L hemisphere  conceptual mind, the painting will emerge in its own way. This is the most enjoyable part for me….the suggestion of standing aside as something makes its mark on the canvas. Whether you call it the Unconscious, Nature, Spirit or a slice of the Narrative of my patient that day , the joy of painting is standing aside and seeing what has manifested. Its the antithesis of narcissistic self-absorption.”

The Hard Worker

My fellow artist Travis D. Hendrix has recently completed an amazing portrait of a relative. To me, as someone who has walked the corridors of hospitals, this drawing powerfully captures the haunted look I have seen on many a patient’s visage as they face illness. There is a quality of both the deep knowing that comes from pain, as well as the look of a hunted animal, something at a more visceral level. The unravelling knitting is a great metaphor reflecting how illness and age unfolds the sense of self knot by knot. Having followed his work for a long time, and a bought a lot of it, I feel I can say that this is one of the best works he has ever done.

Unfortunately, it didn’t win the drawing contest it was in. I am used to seeing Travis’ stuff not win (although he did win best painting at the end of his fine arts degree). I am used to seeing many great artists never get the recognition they deserve. We could get into a meaningless discussion about objectivity in the appreciation of art vs opinion. All I will say is that I’m thankful that the magic of creating art can keep many artists going. It’s often enough to have a following and to sell your work. What still shocks me, however, is that hard-working artists who produce amazing work can be “forgotten” by the industry. It is just another reason I have A LOT OF TROUBLE taking the art experts and the art industry seriously. What I do value is the commitment of an artist to realising their vision. I for one will try to support artists who haven’t got the limelight.




More Faces

Someone recently pointed out that one can experience the world through visuo-emotional synaesthesia. That’s a pretty good description of what happens when I am painting these faces. There is also a kind of totemistic allusion going on here. A totem is like a spirit ancestor or an animal deity, in native tribes. Modernistic faces are like this for us, a mostly secularised people who have lost their previous link with the old forms of paleolithic spirituality. For me, its great that art can connect my friends, whether atheistic or agnostic, with this kind of numinous experience. What this means I think is that despite where we think we are philosophically, we are not that far from totem worship. What do you think?

lknlnl copy



Cover of art magazine




A painting of mine is on the cover of this art magazine. Its called “We Reside in the Cellular World” (oil on canvas.150 x 150 cm).

follow the mag July 15 edition…