Bad Reputation

Black and white painting

A large square black and white drip painting

Let’s not get all Jackson Pollock here because that’s an easy line to follow. Instead let the influences of his groundbreaking techniques allow for the development of new ways to interpret the behaviours of paint.


200cm x 180cm (79″ x 71″)


To make a reference to this painting in the ‘drip’ style would be missing the bigger story. I’m sure you can pick out certain application methods that owe their existence to the abstract expressionist painters of the 1950’s but that really only tells half the story. In fact I’ve used a differing array of techniques to apply paint and many are combinations of styles that I enjoy using in this kind of painting.

One of the most important (and in my opinion the most successful) things about this artwork is the monochrome palette of colour (just s single black and white and the merest hints of mushroom, silver and purple). On initial contact you’ll only really notice the black and white as everything else is cleverly blended in behind it. It’s been a deliberate ploy to help offset all that strong separation between light and dark; a feature of so many of my recent works.

Working in these tones can be easy or it can be difficult – it entirely depends on what you are attempting to do with them. I could have easily chosen a solid base layer to show off the array of twists, turns, splashes and drags but instead I decided to go for a more complicated idea. One that involves the use of shades built from layers that form a moving and disassembled background.

Again it was a deliberate choice as I wanted to create a painting that was multi-dimensional rather than a single outward mas. You’ll see what I mean in some of the close up photos. The background is as involved and complex as the layers that form over the top.

You may also like to know that the canvas is very heavy and is a specially created item made for me by Science Ltd. (Damien Hirst’s company). Actually the materials alone are rather magnificent. It’s taken around five weeks to dry and has a lot of paint on it.

I’ve done my best to show this on the selection of photos on this page. Adding a dimensional capability to the piece makes light react in different ways. What I mean is that from one side light will catch certain areas and from the other side it will catch in different ones.

As you make the transition of movement around the painting you can see the tonal variations of the painting change too – and all because of the way light hits the high and low points. The ability to add another dimension mobilizes the feeling of depth and solidity.

But the story doesn’t end there. The most obvious reaction you’ll probably get is one of madness and chaos. That’s good. That’s the point. And as the name would imply this original painting really couldn’t give a crap about anything – certainly not what anybody thinks of it.

And if you can accept each rampant and carefree movement and each abrupt crescendo of light and dark then you’ll really begin to get what this is about. It does its own thing without care. And yet there is great care in its construction and delivery. But that’s a constant for all my works of art. To consider this is a slapdash and wayward thing is missing the point entirely.

Life is too full of people telling us what to do. When to pay your taxes, who to vote for, when to go to bed, what to eat and what car you should drive. If you’re sick of feeling too fat or too thin or that you should have thicker, silkier hair or that you should get a bigger house to have a better life then shut your eyes and imagine what these manipulative control-freaks would say about this painting.

It’s the antithesis of control. It says a big fat ‘fuck off’ to the world that we live in. It celebrates the every essence of what it is to be human and that’s our ability to do the things we want to do, and if that means we have to break the mould we are supposed to fit into then great.

Because that’s all I ever want to do. I don’t want to be the same, I want to be different. I want a life worth living. I want to paint like this. I want to break rules and I want to be free. This painting is my record of the sessions when I felt like this and it celebrates the ability to just be.

Bollocks to everything else.


Take a look behind the scenes, with full commentary.

Artist wearing a breathing mask


  • Canvas: Belgian cotton dense weave; 14 0z
  • Preparation: Two coats of Gesso primer, one additional skim coat
  • Paints: Enamel paint (5 colours) made to my own recipe
  • Frame: 44mm Museum graded floating frame with 8 tensioning corner wedges.
  • Hand-stretched and stapled on the reverse
  • Signed on the reverse (so you can hang it in any orientation)
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