We all have our own ideas about what a painting or a piece of art should be. For each of us, "art" means something different. For me, I am not sure. It is a tricky word.
Is it what I have been doing? To be honest, it really doesn't matter to me and for that I am glad. Working in the way I am currently has been a somewhat freeing experience. I have simply been trying to express myself rather than keep to the restrictions of a brief.
Working as a professional illustrator and designer in my time, any effective images I produced had two things: to communicate a specific message and to elicit an emotional response. The order in which these things occurred was largely irrelevant. The effect on the viewer was the important thing. That said, if the message was unclear, a strong, exciting looking image could cover a multitude of sins.
The paintings I produce are not planned beforehand. There is no art director providing me with a doodle or a detailed brief. They emerge in the making. I love them because each of them was a little adventure. I took a canvas and began and in the act of beginning directions revealed themselves. When that happened, it was harder to stay fluid and maintain spontaneity. That is always the challenge in expressionistic work - to keep loose enough to surprise yourself with results.
Some of the pieces have themes and others are the themes themselves. All of them contain emotions: my response to the paint and the ink and the colour, to the contrasts suddenly appearing on the surface, to the marks being made by the brushes, knifes and sponges.
Recent paintings have a fantastical element. When I was a boy, I remember the back of Weetabix packets having a cut-out cardboard theatre set from Doctor Who. I loved that - the sense of a cut-out and keep stage that you could build and look into to see another world. Many of my character illustrations are clearly influenced by the world of fantasy, B-movies and science fiction and the group of paintings that make up the on-going "Jungles" series reflect the palette and underlying love of exotic, verdant worlds where beauty and danger co-exist.
In the end, whether you see a theme in a piece or not, you will hopefully feel an emotional response to the work. If so, then I am happy.