I like to find an image in the visible, material and usually natural world. This world has been abandoned by most ‘cutting edge’ painters (though not photographers). I feel that this world is increasingly vulnerable and that it must be protected and celebrated.
An image is a representation with multi layered connotations.... and striking visual presence. I see images out there, photo shoot them, put them on my lap top, make alterations and then draw free hand.
For many years I confined myself to watercolour. About seven years ago I started using acrylic, albeit a watery acrylic. It gave me varying possibilities of opacity in each brush mark and, may be, a greater richness of colour and tone. (I can hear shouts of disagreement from watercolorists!). At about the same time I started using bands or ribbons of colour, leaving a thread-like line between each band, even if the space represented was just a large area of flat surface in the background to a still life. The threadlike lines, between bands of opaque paint, gave a new kind of translucency ... and directional movement, and a kind of shimmer across the surface.
In those early days (and my 2019 exhibition at The Art Stable) the bands and their lines were quite bold and diagrammatic, imposed on the given image. Gradually they have become more discreet or nuanced. The bands of colour are about a centimetre wide, the threads between them less than a millimetre. In the current work every painting is preceded by a finished drawing. I use pencils with a fine point, thus suggesting engraved or etched images (but I prefer the tones of graphite to those of printer’s ink!) The paintings are squared up from these drawings, which stay close at hand as I work on the painting.
In the most recent paintings I have tried to leave an interstice next to every mark. Think interstitially I keep saying to myself! I won’t make the claim that this is true to Science.... that there is an interstice between all atoms of matter.... but I will make the painter’s claim that, though the application is precise (and precision is usually a killer in painting), there is still movement in the image; and breath; and air. Reconciling that difficult equation has been my ambition for most of my painting life.
Michael Williams, August 2022
Michael Williams was born in Patna, India in 1936. After reading History at Oxford he studied painting at La Grande Chaumiere in Paris. Returning to London he taught Art History at St. Martin’s (1964-71) and then Fine Art at Goldsmith’s (1972-81). In 2015 he won Second Prize in in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.