creative process

The Art of Naming

Red Heart Blue Calm

Red Heart Blue Calm

Neuroscience tell us it is the brain, not the eye, that sees. The eye is simply a muscle that acts as the conduit for vision. It is the physiological mechanism of the brain’s synapses connecting that jump starts our perception with its store of memories and ideas enabling us to make meaning out of what we see.

I am constantly reminded of this when I am creating Paintings on Water pictures such as Red Heart Blue Calm and Yellow Dance Notation

I first see my pictures after my morning kayak when I download them to the computer. On first glance,  I am waiting for my brain to speak to me about what the abstractions in the reflections on the water represent. What is my brain telling me I am seeing?

Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian artist considered the father of modern abstract painting, spent years tirelessly analysing and observing his own paintings and those of other artists using this thought process, noting its effects, specifically on his sense of colour in order to understand and make sense of the abstraction in his work. Indeed, Kandinsky would take up to six months just to add one brushstroke to a landscape he was painting. He was observing in his own mind what his eye was capturing and only when he felt the brain had it right would he add a brush stroke of colour.

Kandinsky believed it wasn’t the subject content of the picture that was important in a painting. In his view, artistic expression wasn’t about scientific, objective observations rather it was how colour, form and shapes came together to offer an artist’s inner, subjective expression of their vision of the world.

Yellow Dance Notation

Yellow Dance Notation


My experience is this creative process is not always easy. Some shots immediately speak to me – others take days even months to reveal themselves. Yet it is in that moment of revelation of naming when I experience a completion in the work and an understanding momentarily of how to represent it – how to describe it!!

More interesting from my perspective though is talking to viewers as they describe what they are seeing. It never ceases to amaze me as to what they describe they are seeing.

This is what makes my work as an artist endlessly enthralling, enjoyable and compelling – the positive human interaction about how we perceive the world so differently yet how we can find joy and connection in the differences an image conveys.