Once I felt my drawing was sufficient, I started to work with colour and the geometric abstractions that were suggested by the drawing method (ribbon-drawing) that had proven to be most interesting. I tried to emulate ribbon drawing effects by using a palette knife with thinned water based colours (gouache, acrylics etc). This was effective in simulating the marks of the conte sticks due to the fact that the knife could only hold a small amount of the watery mixes and could therefore only make limited marks – these were accomplished by touching the edge of the knife to the paper and drawing away until the paint ran out.

Next came a series of oil paintings, geometric abstractions, that used the geometry of those drawings as a framework for the oils applied again using a palette knife.

Then works made using brushes and glazes of oils (three of which survived the fire) – “Two Friends”, heavily influenced by the early figurative works of Mark Rothko, “Bonjour M. Duchamp” (The Dancer) which was like a homage to “Nude Descending a Staircase” and “Bonjour M Feininger (Stonehenge)” which was a nod to another artist some of whose work was an inspiration, Lyonel Feininger.

I had a studio in a 16th Century barn in Rockbourne and while I was in Holland trying to earn enough money to escape Thatchers anti-art attitudes in England through restoration work in Arnhem and Edam, my studio burned to the ground destroying a large part of my work to that date, some 3000 drawings and some 150 paintings. One of the farm workers, a tractor driver, had been told he had, overnight, to change from driving to looking after pigs (they were the big-money spinner) – when he objected he was sacked and given 2 months to vacate his tied cottage with all his family. This man had worked for them for over 25 years! He went to the pub that night and got ripped on cider and came back and set fire to the tractor bay which was directly under my studio! I was promised compensation for that work but never saw any of it and that prompted me to a) eventually leave the country and b) to begin actively using the chance driven systems that I had been theoretically developing for many years (since finding a copy of “Silence” by John Cage in a second hand bookstore in 1968. Reading this book gave me “permission” to think my heretical thoughts about painting and to pursue the resultant ideas – to use “chance determined systems” to “construct and organise” works of art!

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