At the age of 27 years old, I took up painting. I didn’t know how to do it; I just knew that I wanted to do it. And because I had no art training whatsoever, I realised that I would have to copy other artists work. It is how the great masters had learnt their craft – that and having a teacher.

I didn’t have a teacher. I had a book – The Complete Artist’s Manual: The Definitive Guide to Materials and Techniques for Painting and Drawing.
Yes. That’s right – I learnt by reading that book and practising my art.

My first attempt at copying another’s work was Giger’s Necronom V. From there the source material was mostly magazine’s. I knew that I wanted to practice the genre of painting known as photorealism. The subject matter varied from BMX racers to CNC machines, and everything in-between. The skill level I developed grew with every photorealist painting. I never painted something just for the visual aspect – from the very first photorealist work of art I knew that the art had to say something beyond – ‘Wow look at the technical skill of the artist.’

Somewhere along the way, I began to paint in a totally abstract way. At first, it was just a way of using up extra paint and a way of straightening up the MDF board, which was my choice of support for the photorealist works. Eventually, I grew to love the abstract paintings more.

Fast forward to 2019, (specifically September 2019 which is when I wrote this) – I know I can paint just about any photograph – given enough time. And the skill required is exceptionally high. And I have that skill. I have met the initial goal I set myself – to be a skilful painter. But it has unfortunately become rather meaningless to me now. I do recognise that it was necessary to go down that path to get to where I am at in terms of my artist development.

The only criteria I have now for my abstract paintings is that they are beautiful and visually attractive. I believe I am doing that. My latest abstract paintings (post-2017) are the most intense, colorful and visually appealing works of art I have ever made.

I believe the key to my success is the tendency for the human brain to interpret abstract shapes and patterns into something recognisable. There is a word for this – Pareidolia. The most common form is for faces to be recognisable, but I have discovered that it often goes further than that. Looking at complex abstract forms such as my paintings can often encourage the viewer to zoom in and out, to pan across to discover a recognisable object. Faces are the most common, but just about anything can appear in the observer’s mind. With this scientific explanation of why I am finding my paintings to be so captivating to look at – I am going to run with it.

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The art of Bert Ernie