Making good art is not only a struggle, but a bloody nightmare. I agree with Damien Hirst on this one: “Making art, good art, is always a struggle. It can make you happy when you pull it off. There’s no better feeling. It’s beauteous. But it’s always about hard work and inspiration and sweat and good ideas.” His sentiments, I guess, have been felt by all artists who have that battle with the work to not settle with easy and comfortable – those who want to push the work to the limit, take risks, refuse to fall back on a formula and create the unexpected.

My new series of paintings based on my blood cells have been 18 months in the making, longer, as all my work and experiences before have fuelled them. Living with ideas concerning the work, ruminating on each stage, impacts the process of making, resulting in work with many layers and facets.

These lofty ideals have been wrapped up in technical challenges. My technique is rooted in the tradition of Poussin and Turner: glazing beautiful surfaces to create great luminosity. I have always wanted my paintings to glow, with the darks retaining contrast and visual interest, and one glaze too many kills this. So, this series of six one metre square paintings have been glazed, rubbed back many times, sworn at, violently scrubbed and delicately glazed – details that had disappeared carefully re-defined.

It is important that the paintings work from a distance as striking silhouettes, but also close up with intricate details. I see them as one stage in the exploration of my being, self-portraits in a way, seemingly abstract (whatever that means), but with a strong basis in reality – the paintings are literally illustrations of my blood cells. I say that, but relish in the subtle references to the Romantic landscape tradition.