My early art education taught me about design and the line – engraved and drawn – less about tone.
The tone question was slow in coming but I was to meet it full on in my later twenties as I came under the influence of Maar Julius Lange, a Danish painter, somewhat in the manner of Paul Klee.
It was on encountering Vasily Kandinsky’s art that I came vividly to realize how abundant and important tone is in collaboration with line. Tone is colour, colour that is comprised of line or texture, and in the early paintings I made, subsequent to these meetings, colour and texture were my primary aim.
My early conditioning in the tradition of the line came up through these considerations. In my later thirties and early forties I sought to find in designs of figures and landscapes forms of interest in themselves that would hold strong colour and texture. Colour under conditions of texture can have a deepening effect.
Although modern painters are cut adrift from traditional forms of art I have sought to re-establish, as much as I can for myself, the root of my aesthetic considerations in natural forms – trees, birds, skies etc. And also in the religious image, culminating perhaps in my version of the Madonna painted in 2000 and the engraved glass windows for a church in Edinburgh.
These interests have continued to date, considering versions of the natural landscape and of the gospel narrative as being the strongest basic structures in which to deploy my colour sense and sense of design.