A Walk on the Wild Side
Working from his studio on the outskirts of St. Ives, Neil is intuitively drawn to Cornwall's far west peninsula - the wild side - where the dramatic convergence of land and sea unleashes the elemental power of the forces of nature.
Here, the bare bones of the landscape rise to the surface, exposed by the constant battering from wind and sea. The land feels ancient, weatherworn and battle-scarred, moulded by early man, and, more recently, the tin-mining industry.
This untamed part of the country can be raw, stark and dramatic one moment, then with a shift of light and a change of wind, can present a completely different picture and mood.
Neil witnesses seasonal changes to the landscape, looking out for gathering storm clouds and restless skies, while walking its well-trodden pathways and visiting ancient sites. Although Penwith is awash with spectacular views, Neil's subjects are often chosen not purely for visual effect, but as a place of encounter, so that it is his reaction, an instinctive and subconscious response to his surroundings, that play a large part in the end result of the painting.
Echoing the variety of textures found in nature, Neil uses oil paint with the consummate skill born of an expert knowledge of its capabilities and behaviour. Using techniques reminiscent of the old masters, but with a contemporary twist, he is able to achieve great variation within the paint. He develops contrasts and textures, building layer upon layer of paint, sometimes scraping back, offsetting this with translucent glazes of bright paint and varnish and areas of impasto matt colour.
The whole painting process is set in motion by nature, but it is only when Neil returns to the studio and starts to move the paint around on the canvas, giving free rein to his emotions and artistic imagination, that the true essence of the landscape emerges.