Extensive testing has been undertaken across various surfaces to gain a comprehensive understanding of each pigment's behavior. 

This process was supported by generating artworks featuring uncomplicated, geometric imagery. Not only did this enable exploration of the pigments' characteristics, but it also facilitated meaningful comparisons across the different minerals and blends.

These studies were created plein air on cotton, using water collected directly from the same river banks I had originally extracted the red ochre clay. 

This series of works unfolded during a tumultuous phase of my life when unpredictable, volatile weather had significantly damaged my orchard, our main source of income and our most substantial debt. 

Simultaneously, my cancer diagnosis was discovered, introducing a new journey, filled with intense unnamable emotion and paradigm-shifting perspective.


Seated on the banks of the river, the sun reflected as it flowed down from the distant mountain ranges behind me, I found myself in a state of emotional absence. Primarily shock, feeling lost and uncreative. No action could be done to repair or change what had happened and would now play out over the next year. 

Despite this, I painted to occupy my mind, struggling to process the overwhelming circumstances. Unrestrained by my usual care for detail or technique, I found myself using the unfiltered river water heavily, pushing pigments to their limits, testing each one's boundaries.

The pages warped beneath the comparative deluge of muddy fluid, transforming the small rectangle into an unpredictable canvas of experimentation. My focus was to use bold yet simple geometrics to create scenes and push the pigments to breaking to deliberate test the capabilities and limits of each blend.

The predominant fear of abandoning my young children - like a stake thrust through my brain, heavy and blunt. This pain initiated a gradual and monumental process of mourning for the coming years I had assumed Id have shared with them — and now I may not.

Death, in its raw concept, had less concern for me. Instead, it was the gradual erosion of agency during treatments, the worsening health and loss of strength, and the diminished ability to 'create' — to exert my will upon the physical matter of this world — that was most painful.

As look back on the series of watercolour stains I formed with seemingly little preconceived intent, I see the river I had sat next to for many slow days had found itself within the art in many forms - often as a dark mirror. 

Whether drifting, leading the viewer away to infinite, or a still pond reflecting the expansive emptiness above. Or the recurring moon, a pool of reflection and an expression of the waxing and waning of hopes, dream, and life itself.

I also found the growing roots, flax and grasses of the bank grew onto the pages. What started as a simple device to frame the small sheets I had taken with me, would sprout as the water flowed over the pigments. Tendrils grew upwards, away from my lap on which the page was placed. As the days and weeks of painting went by, I now these evolved into more defined trees, with no leaves, barren and shriveled. Yet symbols that once a fertile and beautiful life had existed in these imagined scapes before.

The series was intended to be abstract and geometric, but gradually grew in detail as I continued the process of refining the mixes of pigment sources, mulling standards and mediums. 

Ice and snow settled into some scenes, possibly representing days when my own loneliness and isolation felt larger. A subconscious expression of the cold desolation I experienced as I struggled to know when I should or shouldn't, or even could burden others with what I was experiencing.

Finally, the repeated lone figure. 

Representing you... me... human consciousness? The observer? A symbol of the personal. 

It never felt like I was placing my own silhouetted figure n the scene. Rather, these were emotional landscapes influenced by the concept of my after-being.

The fear of my non-existence, now significant to others, contrasts with my minimal self-worth.

The pain of my absence to others who are so precious to me, even when I mattered so little to myself, this permeates these creations.