There’s a real relevance to the title of this painting. The process of learning to fly is a complex one yet the result of this is a thing of grace and fluidity.
It’s that principle that made me want to paint something that was composed of many small and involved parts and make it into one effortless movement. I could have opted for a far simpler approach – using much less detailed areas of paint – but instead I wanted to include as many small areas of interest as I could. The overall shape was already known and planned but the journey to construct it was anything but straightforward.
In many ways it also reminds me of the Hoover Dam. A towering and beautiful thing to marvel at, the sheer wall of concrete is a joyous example of engineering aesthetics. For me that goes beyond form and function and delves into the part of me that craves an emotional reaction. On the outside it is a simple, singular mass yet it is made up of thousands of smaller pieces that, when put together, creates something magnificent.
Your own reaction to this painting may not be as intense as being at the Hoover Dam or piloting an aircraft but the similarities between what looks easy on the outside to the complexities of the inside are deliberate, this is simply my version of learning to fly a plane.
Everything that goes into what I do is in this piece of art. It may not look like it but it is. And you may have to look very closely to understand that because it’s about the principals that lie behind my craft as much as it is about the actual painting.
Layering, moving, dragging, forming, shaping, balancing, curing, blending, mixing, applying, constructing – it really is an exhausting list of ideas at work on an almost simultaneous basis. The best way to climb a mountain is to keep taking small steps forward. One day you’ll turn round and look at how far you’ve come. Hang on to that, you only learn to fly once.