Art Articles

How I work with abstraction

Many and varied art theories abound on the evolution of abstraction in art. I am of the opinion abstraction is not an unplanned improvised act of visualization.

I believe it evolves as a result of an artist's subconscious observations in reality. The artist’s brain has seen the shape or form for a moment, captured it on visual synapses and the resulting work is the artist's representation of what their brain has perceived it saw. 

My work is inspired by the belief these abstractions abound in the environment naturally every single moment of the day.  You just need to be aware of the phenomenon, be alert to and curious about how they manifest themselves and the affect, visually and emotionally, they have on you.

The feedback about the abstraction in my art has been profound and very helpful in enabling me to understand how I work with it. Viewers will offer come up to me and use very flattering references such as this work reminds them of Dali, Kandinsky, Klimt, Olsen, Williams, Rothko, Whiteley and so on.

I am always delighted when these masters are referenced as I too see modern art influences in the pictures. Indeed, it was through the influence of the modern art masters that these abstractions in nature revealed themselves to me.

Or maybe, it is the masters who saw these colours, forms and shapes in nature to commence and it is I, borrowing from their legacy, who is re-interpreting their works and influence using a 21st Century mode- the digital camera. 

The abstraction in these pictures has not been created using Photshop or digital enhancing software. Each image existed in reality at a moment in time in the beautiful environs of Sydney's Middle Harbour . There is no right or wrong way to view the work. Each piece is designed for viewers to form their own meaning in the abstraction through the shape, colour and form of the picture. 

My hope is the work encourages pleasurable aesthetic meditation and connection.

Feedback from Helen Zhang, China.
 ...“ I have been admiring your artworks on the beautiful website of yours.  Such a feast to the senses, but also they make me pause in awe and go inwards.  I love "Clearing the inner blueness"...every time it draws me in, gives me a different, tranquil and unique experience that's hard to put into words.  Thank you for enriching our lives with such incredible artwork...”

Here is a short film My Art Studio  that demonstrates my art practice in abstraction.

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.