My Art

Africa Art


All of my pictures start off as simple photographs, and usually at quite a distance from where I was. Going on safari is refreshing but also limiting. There's no leaving the vehicle to get a better angle, for instance. For a long time I wasn't sure how to move beyond simple photography, and I didn't think I had the skills to do something different with them.

Then, when I saw what others were able to accomplish, I set out to find out how they achieved their styles. This is a developing skill and I hope that in a year's time my photographs will have moved on to a higher level again.

Generally, at the simplest level I now use 2 pictures to get what I want. The first is the subject I wish to feature - in this case, most usually an animal.

Secondly, I use an 'art background'. This may be from the original photograph, with the scenery blurred and shaded so far from the original that it is unrecognisable, apart from perhaps the general layout of the land, water and sky, and then only abstractly. The reason I choose this way is that I find wildlife photography cluttered with detail - trees, other animals, and so on, and I like a less fussy background. I sometimes add a third layer - another abstract - and blend it with the other if the style isn't quite what I'd intended. And occasionally I add extra elements: trees, or more animals, which may be from other photos I've taken.


Writing for myself or others?

It makes a difference.

I write for myself. I don't think much about whether anyone else will read my work, though of course, it's not possible to escape from the reality that someone will. Why write at all if you don't intend it to be read? There are possibly people in the world who see their art in that form - pure self-revelation, or diary-writers, maybe, but I'm one of the in-betweeners - I enjoy the process of writing. I'd like people to enjoy the stories, but it's not a make-or-break issue. If they don't like it, I've still discovered hours of gratification, alongside the pleasure in seeing my own work improve.

How much do I plan in advance?

I plan every single detail... and I plan nothing at all.



At the beginning I have an overall view of how the story will proceed. I don't have the talent to set out a finished plot in advance of my writing. The story changes as things change. For my ideas I need space and time. What I can plan in my head, and seems fine at first, turns out to switch in other directions once I start writing and the characters react.

Some of the plot lines seemed great in my mind, but turn out to be rather dull in practice. At times like these I sometimes need a few days of non-writing just to reset what should be happening now that plan A had gone awry.

What do I do on those thinking days? I go back to my photography and try to develop new skills or different ways of working.

It's an ideal way of spending my life: either way - writing or manipulating photographs - hours can pass like minutes.

How do I cope with Writer's Block?

I don't seem to suffer from what I understand to be Writer's Block.

I perceive it as a moment (or lots of them) when a writer can't see a way forward in their writing.

I have moments when I confuse myself, or feel the story is not progressing well. At those times I stop writing, and occupy myself with other things (often photography or reading) and wait for inspiration. I don't see it as a block, because I could carry on if I wanted, but need time to get a better perspective on how the story should go. At present I can say that those 2 or 3 days' gap work perfectly for me. I come back to the page refreshed and, so far, with a stronger story. My key is in leaving the story completely and doing other things. The ideas then come without bidding.

Designing my way