“I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”
Joan Miró

My work is about my relationship with the visual environment. It can be called abstract but is probably best described as referential. It always starts with the pleasure and joy of looking. Every shape in my paintings and drawings, at some point, has been inspired by direct observation. The shape of a street sign, a curtain in a window or the space between the branches of a tree can all kindle an idea. Memory, imagination and intuition also play a role and all are rooted, in some way, in observational experience.

The elegance and purity of shape has long fascinated me. The "articulate mark" of an English watercolour painter could capture the essence of a cathedral or a man-of-war in the distance with economy and conviction, distilled to a brushstroke or two. Plato described the ‘special pleasures’ of geometry, a human response to the mystery and complexity of the natural world. My approach to geometry is idiosyncratic and untutored but no less reverent.

I strive to express not just how I see the world but how I sense, perceive and feel it. Looking is inseparable from an almost tactile response. Many things influence me. A walk through a wooded valley. The unavoidable daily barrage of pop culture. The noble continuum of art history. Modernists like the Cubists, Suprematists and Constructivists, though long gone, continue to move and challenge me. The beautiful ‘picture-making’ of the early Italian Renaissance always nourishes me. I respond to all of these stimuli with a formalist approach based primarily on shape and colour.

Coombs and Mackay at Carnegie Gallery this September
I'll be exhibiting new work with my friend, Ian Mackay, from September 6-29 this fall. The Opening Reception will take place on Friday, September 6 from 7-9:30pm. Carnegie Gallery is in Dundas, Ontario. More details will be provided soon.

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