In this collection of my paintings and drawings you will see a variety of subjects and mediums. This is because I enjoy an element of surprise and diversity.
Galleries like to label artists so that they are instantly recognisable. I find myself asking, What if the artist tried a different medium or a different subject. What would I be looking at? . I can think of painters who changed their style to match the fashion of the time, but this is not the same thing. I have never tried to develop a particular style.
To my mind there is nothing so boring as to see a one-man exhibition of paintings which bear a similarity in subject and style. Each individual painting may be superb but seen together they become a succession of similar images, so that one is inclined to think, Not another one. I`ve seen it all before!
Each painting or drawing to me is an adventure. How will it turn out? Shall I be pleased or disappointed with it? And I have to say the latter result does happen. But the adventure is still there. I experiment with materials and mediums to the extent that a lot of time is seemingly wasted. But then I look back and realise that it really is time well spent if it tells me that a particular route is not to be followed.
This year (2014), after nearly 40years of professional painting, saw the final of my London one-man shows. I never knew until the last moment what the exhibitions would contain and one of the `blurbs` read, Once again at the Menier Gallery, John Cooke is showing a collection of his latest drawings and paintings. Included in this exhibition is both traditional figurative work and more adventurous ideas in a variety of mediums. These include computer drawing (with the mouse) and cardboard cut-out prints which by their very nature have to be extremely limited editions. Come along and enjoy!
The same thing applies to any shows I have from now on! I was trained as an oil painter but when I gave up teaching to paint full-time I discovered gouache, which I enjoy using tremendously.It is a water based paint but unlike watercolour has an opacity when used straight out of the tube. So one can darken whole areas and paint light onto this as in oil painting. The difference between gouache and oils is that if thinned down with water, gouache becomes very like watercolour and can make translucent washes. So it is possible to use both oil and watercolour techniques in the same work. Hence you will see a lot of paintings in this medium in this collection.
When I started to get this work together I planned on putting it under different headings; Landscape, Figures, Portraits, etc. But then I thought , when I show my work in an exhibition I jumble up the various types so that one is continually surprised. After, say, an oil painting comes a pen and wash drawing, or, after a landscape comes a portrait. This gives the show a certain vitality, rather than knowing what comes next.
So, as you turn these pages, I hope you will get pleasant surprises rather than disappointments.