I see myself as essentially a figurative painter in the European tradition, attempting to maintain my craft at the highest level, using painting to explore issues of truth, meaning and value. All my paintings are attempted answers to the three questions in the title of Gauguin's famous painting: "˜What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?' My art is founded upon a study of nature because for me nature is the basis of all life, all beauty, all our wealth. The human image is central to my work because I believe we need images of ourselves to gain self-understanding; to comprehend our relationships with each other and with nature. Cennino Cennini said 600 years ago that painting "˜calls for imagination, and skill of hand, in order to discover things not seen, hiding themselves under the shadow of natural objects ... presenting to plain sight what does not actually exist'. I am still essentially committed to painting as Cennino defined it. But whereas painters in Cennini's day could paint a Crucifixion or a Madonna and find in this image the highest embodiment of meaning, value and purpose for their society, our society lacks images that articulate common beliefs, common values and meanings. My response to this situation is to start from scratch, to go back to nature and the human form, back to my own first principles and to try to paint new images that can embody my own convictions, in the hope that they find a response and strike a chord with others. Although my work may appear traditional, my engagement with the various traditions I draw upon is closer in spirit to selective salvage and retrieval. I see this project as ultimately one of renewal, creating new values and meanings. My starting point for a figure painting is usually an "˜idea' that is developed, in collaboration with the model, through a series of drawings and painting studies before it reaches the final canvas. Because the starting point is an "˜idea' or mental image, there is a strong imaginative element in this sort of painting: I work with the model in order to strengthen this mental image, using the model to find what I want to see, rather than simply observing and copying what is before me. There is much trial and error in this process. Even in the final stages I try to paint freely and spontaneously, often subjecting the pictures to drastic revision, obliterating and repainting areas repeatedly until they "˜work'. All this takes time: paintings can take months and even years to reach completion in this way. But I believe the results of this method are incomparable and well worth the effort artistically."