I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. At school I was always the one that was best at drawing. I was always top in art, I won school prizes for my drawings -
We were all round Robert’s house. Sat around the wooden table in the dining room, playing cards. His parents were older than everyone else's. More like grandparents. I think that’s why we’d all meet up at Robert’s. They actually seemed to enjoy our company.
I was keeping score with my biro and spiral bound note book. Robert’s Mum was cooking in the kitchen and keeping us supplied with hot sausage rolls and glasses of juice.
In between jotting down each player’s score I doodled on the pad with the biro. Two small circles became the headlights of a classic car. Between the headlights a radiator grill. Sweeping, curved wheel arches appeared, linked by a running board. From there I gradually elaborated.
A few days later we were back at Robert’s house. His Mum wouldn’t stop raving about the drawing she’d come across in her notebook. She’d shown it to all her friends at work. She’d even torn the page out, trimmed it up and placed it in a little frame on the side. I think that was the moment I decided to be a professional artist.
So I went to art school and became an artist. That became an illustrator. That somehow morphed into a graphic designer. Next thing I was sitting behind a desk in West London. Now, instead of spending each day with my hand around a brush or magic marker, I had my own design consultancy. And my own team of designers.
So I became a weekend painter. Sundays I would sit by the Thames with my watercolours or lock myself away in the spare room with my oils and a still life. But weekends weren’t enough. So then it happened. We sold up. We moved to deepest, rural France. I returned to my original calling and painted every day. Landscapes at first then, increasingly, still life.
Now I paint constantly. I’m fixated with still life. I paint on wooden panels that have been coated with layers of white gesso to give a perfect, smooth finish. The paintings are meticulous and can each take months to complete.
I’m always trying to capture a fleeting moment in time, like a landscape painter. And I’m also obsessed with surface. Like a portrait painter. But just like the best portrait painters, I’m saying something much deeper about my subject. Far more than the monocular vision of a camera could ever hope to express.
And, over the years, whenever the subject of my chosen career came up in conversation, Robert’s Mum would always tell me, as if for the first time, how she knew I’d be an artist the moment she saw that little drawing left behind in her notebook.