In Ian’s words, written in November 1986, just weeks before he died:
‘My aim is to produce pure poetry, without recourse to secondary imagery. I realize on reflection, that this is a fairly vague definition of intention, but I prefer to leave it so, for I do not subscribe to any particular theoretical credo – I paint according to my intuition and therefor rationality is a subsidiary factor. I seek a kind of perfection, which is a risky confession to make and perhaps not very fashionable. I know that I must inevitably fail, but to achieve even a hint of success (in my own terms) makes it exciting in that maybe I will get nearer next time. The perfection I seek must be distilled from the essence of the activity – the colour, tone, disposition, spatial allusion, paint quality. There must be a tranquillity, which is nevertheless dynamic and therefor poignant. It must be clearly evident that the work is executed by human hand – scale is more important than size. Bravado paintwork must be avoided, however tempting, for it brings the attention entirely to the surface, destroying spatial possibilities the viewer may interpret. Yet the surface must retain its integrity – I seek no optical tricks, but rather to prompt. Colour is, of course, cardinal. There can be no end to the associations it may conjure, it is the inexhaustible stuff of painting, with its implications of light, of life and death.
The other important element involved is time, painting being as much a ‘time-based’ medium as film, although it operates more in a potential than a kinetic form. It is partly for this reason that I ‘usually’ give my paintings no other title than the date on which it was last worked upon. The other reason is purely practical – so that I may know when I can safely apply varnish as a protective coat.’