Artists have long been obsessed with capturing the effects of light – and at night the effects of light are more pronounced, shaded and contrasted against the latent darkness. Early painters of nocturnal scenes largely painted interiors, the centres of nighttime activity illuminated by the flickering light of fireplaces, lamps and candles. With the rise of industrialisation the nighttime became transformed: people flocked to the cities, which at night hummed with busyness and were lit by a range of new technologies, from the fierce contrasts of blast furnaces to the subtle shifts between light and shade thrown out by gas (and later electrical) street lamps.
I wanted to paint nocturnes because of the technical and expressive challenges inherent in the simplicity of their beauty. I used photographs as my source, referring to them fairly precisely and working with a limited colour palette. Eventually I dispensed with the photo as a guide and broadened my colour palette, viewing the works as individual challenges to be resolved by the paint. The final works are thus a balance between the naturally occurring beauty of the effects of light at night and my own aesthetic judgement as to what is beautiful in and about painting.