Here’s the thing, I am no mathematician, in fact quite the opposite, so the only way I can understand the mechanics of the sea is via words, images and diagrams. The latter I have a particular fondness for and try to collect them as much as I do images of the sea (though I find them harder to come by)
'I also enjoyed what you wrote about the nature of paint, your art and stopping time. Anyone with interest in science spends a chunk of their life thinking about waves and time. I did a project when I was at university to predict the refractive index of different molecules, by calculating the wave functions of their electron orbitals (the weird world of quantum mechanics). It's strange to think that light waves interact with the wave functions of the electron clouds in the sea's waves - it's waving at every scale and in every aspect. There's something bittersweet about waves breaking on a shore; it is the death of the wave, the end of its journey, albeit a beautiful one. I suppose there is a symmetry with that and starlight, the light from stars has travelled across interstellar space for untold years before reaching a shore here, being 'seen' and ending their journey....'
Alan ( a smart person I know)
I collect and observe the sea; I think that is probably the best way to describe what I do. I want to control what is mostly not controllable.
My process makes sense in my head but rarely in life but! Without making it complicated, I like the idea of recording wind scales. It is important to me to tell the viewer how strong the wind was on the surface of the water; it helps communicate what it was like to stand and observe (wind blowing in your face, off your feet, or not really at all). Freezing an unstoppable force with video and photography makes sense to me because that is what I was trying to do as a child what I am trying to do now.
Wave spotting (I live about 4o ft from the sea) inspired and inspires me to try and understand the anatomy of the wave as I believe knowing how it works will help me paint it. I work from the diagram up, drawing what researchers have called ‘non- linear interactions’, on first then layering the painting on top.
As for oil paint, as old-fashioned, as it is, I can rarely think of another material that causes the same duality as the sea. I have a similar belief about it and understanding what lies beneath its chemical composition as I do about the math in waves. Paint is made of tiny particles of colour that float inside the storing liquid, instead of dissolving in it, is suspended in itself. It’s like taking something and stopping it. Much like I want to do to the sea. This parallel in the narrative with materials fascinates me. And much like the ocean I try and never seem to understand it or can harness its real potential. I will be as endlessly enchanted by it as I am of the sea.
Photography is essential to my process. I capture images, borrow (gifted by some very talented people) as I feel this gives me a scientific removal from the sea. Experiencing it on an LCD screen in tiny miniature and then glancing up to view the real thing makes me feel a little more control over it. I often paint sections of the same wave, so that were you to put them on one wall they would become a much more significant painting which I dismantle and fragment.
The images on here that have been taken at sea, done so by my very talented fisherman cousin, Martin Ramsay (though it makes my hair stand on end thinking of him of a boat in this type of weather). There is a massive difference between standing with a camera on the shore versus a camera on the vessel (!), and I feel very much at the beginning of exploring this.
Beaufort 11 Eshaness Vast _ Beaufort 11 Eshaness Hold
I think of painting outside as well as inside the square. I wanted to continue the concept by using diagram story and text onto the wall beside the work. With this Dyptich I was keen to visualise the disconnection I often feel, the repeated section was an attempt at this.
Beaufort no 2 - Machrihanish - Unicorn
I work in layers, often including diagrams, phosphorous star maps, wave math equations, things I have read or that my dad has told me about his life at sea. These are mostly painted over resulting in a lost story under layers of paint.
This painting is of a beach in Kintyre, Machrihanish, and was commissioned by the first minister of Scotland for her office, where it was on loan until late last year. It has Scotland’s Heraldic animal, the unicorn - star constellation painted onto the surface. It can only be seen once the lights are switched off and the phosphorous glow
When I look at the massive expanse of the sea, I can feel very overwhelmed by the scale, so I began to think of it as a grid. Taking it bit by bit and painting it as squares. Then I took parts away and used the wall behind to continue the story. These pieces are always (for the most) sold separately but start there life as a much larger piece which is then dismantled. The idea of controlling the sea in this way appeals to my trying to understand it.
Beaufort no 11 - Eshaness
Installed as triptych, dismantled as individual paintings