Mike Norris

I know I am privileged to have grown up and to have lived in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Africa - from the high forests and hills in Kenya, to some memorable game reserves in South Africa, and to the shadow of the Drakensberg where I live now. I have also spent some years working on the oceans of the world where I came to deeply respect the majesty and raw power of nature in a different form. With this background perhaps it’s not surprising that my subject matter in oil painting often tends to reflect the sights and experiences I have had in the 'big skies and far horizons' world that I have been part of. There is nothing magical, tricky, or double meaning about any landscape or seascape that I paint. Nothing to search for 'the interpretation of'. That is not to say I don’t enjoy that in others’ works. I try to paint simply and honestly, and as I see the world. If there is such a thing as 'comfort food' then perhaps my style of art can be described as 'comfort art'!

Perhaps it is strange that an almost contrary subject in painting that I have successfully tackled is a more 'technical' one, and I have been fortunate to have painted 60 or so commissions of vintage tractors (including a calendar for John Deere in 2010), aircraft and yachts. I love the detailed precision and discipline required to do this - there are no short cuts. However it’s always nice after a particularly long and eye-straining project to open up with the freedom of a big sea or landscape! If there is one aspect I probably enjoy most in putting a picture together it is in the composition of skies and clouds in all their moods. I have also painted a number of large exterior wall murals in Richmond in the Karoo and my frequent visits there impressed upon me the beauty of the awesome landscapes in that vast and very special part of the world.

One of the most important attributes that I, and many other artists, am blessed with is the power of observation - something in me, which continues to grow all the time. I enjoy being able to watch and study a sky, a reflection, a shadow, the way something looks in a different light, and to imprint these visuals in the mind. Then doing my best to 'forward' that impression onto canvas! Nature’s ever-changing tableau is full of surprises and as long as I can record some of them I can never run out of ideas.