Wednesday, June 3, 2015

RJT "Toby" Haynes, Painter, Tells His Story

My father was a signwriter, and I grew up with the smell of paint and turpentine; I have early memories of climbing ladders and scaffolding to help him with rooftop signs or the hand-painted graphics on heavy goods vehicles – Health & Safety would have been horrified. Santa invariably gave me a shiny new enamel box of watercolours every Christmas; several of them are still around, if somewhat the worse for wear – but none of the early coloured pencils has survived.  

Evening Light, Gerard Drive II - 21" x 14" - pastel

Although I went on to read German and Philosophy at Oxford, it was probably inevitable I’d end up as a painter. To a philosophy student, becoming an artist seems a relatively pragmatic career move, and it’s as good a preparation as any other… 

Napeague Twilight - 24" x 24" - oil on linen

I’ve always loved the alchemy of line and colour, and hunting for the spark that makes all the difference to an image. Whatever the initial idea, a picture shouldn’t turn out exactly as originally conceived: I’m not in control of the process, nor would I want to be – it’s the journey that’s interesting, and discoveries made along the way. 

I will change my technique or the colours on my palette if it starts to feel too familiar and comfortable: the materials and subject have a say in what becomes of them, and painting is always a form of negotiation or collaboration between us. I hope I never get clever enough to know the formula.  

Bug Screen is a case in point: I wanted to evoke the special sense of being indoors on a hot summer’s afternoon, and was intending to enclose the scene with a window frame; I chose the screen instead for its distancing, atmospheric and perspective-enhancing properties, and because it intensified the effect of bright light. 

Bug Screen - 21" x 14" - watercolour

I am a poor taxonomist because I’m naturally wired to see similarities and connections more easily than differences and distinctions – something as deceptively simple as an apple makes me think of the tree, the blossom, the pollinating insect, the harvest, recipe books, religious and erotic symbolism, etc. How this affects the final painting is impossible to pin down; still, all the ingredients are there even if they’re not immediately discernible. 

I’m not so much interested in fleeting impressions as in their lasting effects, the memory of them, the mycelial web of associations they send out – but a painting must ultimately have a life of its own, to make its own connections without exegesis.

Misty - 23" x 33" - pastel

Not Her Real Name - 19" x 25" - pastel

Current Affairs - 16" x 20" - oil on linen

Last of the Harvest - 10" x 8" - oil on linen

Toby lives in a remote cottage in North Cornwall in southwest England. He has had many solo exhibitions and his paintings are featured in collections throughout the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2011, he began exhibiting in the USA and now divides his time between Cornwall, New York City and East Hampton, NewYork. He is represented in London by The Art Movement.

To see more of Toby's work, please visit his website.

This is Week 21 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Toby's story today!

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