“Fish, shellfish and the colours of the sea are subjects I return to continually. There’s a childhood wonder in there – crabbing off the harbour wall in North Devon, finding weird creatures under the stones in rock pools – but it’s more than that. Fish are just such amazing subjects to try and capture in paint. There are so many colours and textures to try and wrestle with. They are a constant source of inspiration: The greens and blues that shimmer on a mackerel’s scales, the feathery spines on a crab’s legs, all wonderful material to play with. I love working in layers and that’s how I see the skin of a sardine or the aged shell of a lobster.
“I love studying the minute, close-up details of nature. Again, a childhood thing of putting a ladybird or a dandelion seed-head up close to your face and really, really looking at it. I think we lose that skill as we get older of seeing the complex patterns and details Mother Nature has stitched into even the smallest parts of life. That ‘close-up’ nature is such an inexhaustible subject for me.
“I will step away from the beach eventually and look for inspiration elsewhere. There’s no lack of it – it’s under the fallen trunk of a rotting apple tree or beneath the bricks that edge the greenhouse – all the wonderful playgrounds of my childhood, when gathering fallen conkers or discarded scallop shells was every bit as magical as collecting Panini football stickers.”