About My Work

Why do I Paint?

For as long as I can remember,  I have felt an invisible need to be creative and to explore my own infinite self and sense of the infinite in all that surrounds me.  There is no area of life in which I feel quite as confident, quite as ‘at home’ or quite as in the flow of my life.  When I paint, I feel connected to the beauty (and ordinariness, sometimes) of everyday objects, scenes and experiences.  I feel like the divine in me can respond to the divine in everything else, especially landscape and nature.  It is a form of contemplation or meditation and an expression of my deepest self.  It allows me to be controlled, balanced and in touch with my ‘inner craftsman’ and it allows me to be completely free, expressive, wild, untamed and alive.  It helps me to articulate things that are difficult to express through words.  For me, it is a spiritual activity where I become a channel for whatever ‘the Spirit’ wants to breathe into existence.

The art of painting is a balancing act between exercising discipline and control and learning to let go and to trust the process.  It is not just about the art of painting but also the art of seeing.  It opens up my pores to receive inspiration from all that I see and experience.  In responding to such inspiration, I become a conduit and whatever comes out is expressed through my unique sensibilities and my particular context in time and in life as a whole.

Being creative requires me to be introverted and solitary and then invites me to be more extroverted and to rejoin the world of ‘others’ to share the gifts that have flown freely through me on to paper or canvas.  Through it, I become a peacemaker - when I paint, I feel less in conflict with the world, I take my place in the grand scheme of things and allow others to do the same.

I paint in order to show that I care, that things move me – from the rising of the sun on a misty morning to the painful break-up of a relationship.  Life continually makes and breaks me and painting is a way of acknowledging, expressing and earthing my emotional responses to it all.  Being creative feels very closely tied up with my sense of identity – I wake, walk, think, see, feel and breathe as an artist. 

What matters to me?

The Natural World - land, sky and sea

The subject that moves me most is the natural world, particularly landscape, skies and seascapes.  I love the landscape as it wakes up on a misty morning or falls asleep under a beautiful, and often subtle, sunset.  I love it even when it stares blankly back at me in its emptiness and solitude – just a grey horizon against a colourless sky and when it rages against me, bending trees and throwing the last leaves into the air.

I love its stillness and its wildness: the way it reflects my moods, empathises with me, darkens my soul or lifts my spirits. I love the stability of landscape in the face of dramatically changing conditions – the way it emerges from a storm, rising majestically from the clouds of mist: unmoved; stoic; solid and beautiful. I love its ancient presence, harbouring the spirits, narratives and traces of all that has lived and died before us.  I love that celtic sense of the landscape being fully alive – perhaps sleeping in Winter but with the secret urge towards life continuing in all of its hidden places.

I love the teeming abundance of Spring as life bursts forth again in an overwhelming show of creative brilliance and variety; the fullness of Summer and the particular glow around the edges of things on a Summer’s eve;  the reds and golds of Autumn as the leaves reveal their true beauty in letting go of their hold on life. I have learned to appreciate the bleakness of grey November days and the harsh dark forms of trees and broken down fences.  I love the strange ‘otherness’ of a Winter landscape, shrouded in snow – sometimes in low light and sometimes reflecting the magical colours of dawn or sunset.

I love the skies as they change form and reflect light in the constant dance between sun and clouds – the way clouds tumble towards me, gaining weight and drama as they flow overhead  - the stretched and often graceful forms of clouds over the coast and the way their colours and forms are reflected in sea and sand.  I love the ephemeral nature of clouds, constantly shapeshifting and offering infinite possibilities for interpretation – from the realistic to the expressive and abstract.

I love the sense of infinity in skies and seascapes – looking out to sea and feeling very small in the great scheme of things and yet at the same time having a sense that I contain all that I see within my divinity.  I love that sense of being alone, isolated, haunted by the absence of some safe harbour and that sense of belonging to it all – the stillness, the playfulness, the wildness and the timelessness.

I love the power and the flow of the waves as they swell and break against the rocks and shore – the fear that such power evokes and the potential it all holds for paintings which have energy, movement, texture and personal expression.


Connected to my love of landscape is my interest in moods themselves – exploring colours, tones, shapes and the edges of forms to evoke certain moods.  Sometimes these ephemeral images are linked to memories of landscapes or seascapes etc and sometimes they take the form of more abstract arrangements of shapes and forms like Mark Rothko’s works.  Painting in this way opens up the path to surprises, to images which evolve and which sometimes need wiping back and re-working.  It involves ‘leaving the shore and crossing the unknown sea’ – and sometimes it can feel like it too: a loss of certainties, a letting go of control, a pushing out into the deep and a feeling of being all at sea; groping for some sense of direction and straining for a glimpse of the shore or of anything that is familiar.

It is a process about going with the flow and allowing the image to lead me and to become what it wants to become.  It involves going on a journey and stopping at an appropriate point.  Sometimes it is hard to see the value in a piece until you come back to it and see it afresh.  It is also a process about not being afraid to ‘fail’ – accepting this as part of letting go and letting art just happen.


Connected to painting from moods and going with the flow is my interest in ‘Happenings’ – paintings which come into being through a very direct approach to painting.  I prepare a surface, mix a range of colours, pause a little and invite the great Creative Spirit to flow through my small creative hands and sensibilities.  Effectively, I try to get out of my way and the way of free-flowing creativity.  I suspend the internal censor and trust the spirit, allowing happenings to simply happen.

The results are variable as you can imagine but perhaps this is as much about the process as it is about any outcome.  Perhaps they are not all meant for the public eye, but in being  ‘brave enough’ to produce unconvincing art, I open myself up to the pearls which would have remained undiscovered in the oyster shell, had I not prized it open and allowed the flow to bring them into view.


Another form of painting that matters to me is the direct expression of feelings and emotions.  This could be anything from cutting, slashing, gestural paintings in bold colours: expressing anger, to quiet, blended, formless, empty paintings expressing emptiness, loss and grief.

My hope is that already in my bodies of work, I have produced personal work which touches upon universal themes and will therefore resonate with other people.  I would like to think there is room in my continuing journey as an artist and pilgrim on this earth for the various strands of my work and that much, if not all of it will find a home.                                    


  1. This is wonderful-inspires and resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Hannah. I'm really glad it resonated with you. :-)

  2. This is so inspiring and resonates deeply with me. I discovered you on art tutor.com I was given. 7 day free trial and chose to focus on soft pastels which I’m just beginning in having been immersed in graphite landscapes for the last almost two years. I still am. But I felt the need to diversify. Your pastel work I found inexplicably moving also touching something deep within me as does the work of my graphite tutor on patreon Smoothie 77, who also has a you tube channel. I haven’t been well so havent actually been able to start any of your pieces yet, but I know I will be purchasing them gradually over the next few months, so that I can learn as much as possible from you.God bless you for sharing your passion for your art, I’m virtually housebound so art is my life and it is artists like you who are my window onto the outside world, in showing me how to give expression myself to what I love so much, Margaret Brownhill

    1. Hi Margaret,
      I have just been updating my blog site and came acroos your comment from last year (sorry!). Thank you for such positive feedback and I hope you have managed to get going with the pastels and continue to get plenty of joy and inspiration out of both watching and having a go yourself. Thanks again and take good care of yourself. Michael

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