Wednesday, December 29, 2010

J M W Turner @ the National Gallery

Now it's nearly a new year. For 2011, I will make a resolution, I'm resolved to actually getting to the National Gallery in January to view some of the Turner watercolours. We have here in Dublin the largest collection of them, and they only come out in January when the sunlight is weakest. I have missed them for the last couple of years, putting my visit on the long finger as it were. This year I won't.

Looking back on 2010, it was quite a success for me. An International award for my art, a place on the International fly-fishing team for next year and a diagnosis and sucessful treatment for my breathing problems. My painting has been going well and I am now happy with (most of) the work. How could I complain? Just the hiccup of the motoring accident injury, which seems to be almost sorted out and hopefully 2011 will be pain free. I'll wish you all a prosperous new year, and catch up with you in January.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

White Christmas...

I am not dreaming of one. At this stage I'm in danger of being snowed in! The snow is over my welly boots in places. I have to shovel snow away from the door so the poor dog can get out... the birds are eating me out of house and home, and it's still snowing heavily. I wasted my time shovelling the driveway this morning.. there is about 3 inches of snow on it much for the 1-2 inches forecast for today.. there will be at least 6 to 8 fallen by the time it stops because there is no sign of a let-up.

I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas, white or otherwise, and I'll see you in the New Year. (If not before)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sketchbook study...

I sat in the Kitchen with my cup of tea this morning, watching the birds feeding on the bird feeders and amongst the grapevine. There is a good view out through the Patio doors and I decided to give the watercolours a work-out.
This is the result painted on a Montval 300gsm 6X4 postcard.
Watching the starlings was fun. They gather above the food on the patio table unsure as to whether it is safe or not, sometimes for 15 minutes or more until a bird hops onto the table to feed... ...usually a Robin or Blackbird.... then they all pile in.
The Robin is quite tame, while the two Blackcaps, the male illustrated (the female has a brown cap), skulk around hidden away in the vine feeding on our grapes . The Blackcaps and the Blackbirds love the grapes.. our Robins and Tits prefer a mixture of seeds and nuts combined with hanging cake made with a mixture of fat and protiens. I have been feeding the Starlings and others on crumbled up Fruit scones that I made earlier in the week...I added a little too much Bicarbonate of soda into them so they were not very nice, but the birds aren't complaining. I saw a couple of Redwings today, the first of the year, the cold is driving them south earlier than normal. I also had a Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits visit the feeders.
Meanwhile as I type this, on the feeders outside the sitting room window we also have House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Greenfinches, Chaffinches along with the usual Blue, Coal and Great tits busily feeding away.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I have won an Award for my ExLibris Lino-cut.

I received the catalogue from the TRECI MEDUNARODNI BIJENALE EX LIBRIS PANCEVO 2010 in the post this afternoon, and lo and behold I am listed as an award winner. One of a number awarded equal 2nd prize. I am delighted, more so as the lino-cut print itself was purposefully unevenly and imperfectly printed, which although intrinsic to the work itself (spoken of earlier this year) would not particularly appeal to all "print makers" who would normally bin imperfect prints. I am not a particularly good print-maker, but as a visual artist the art shows through. I treat the lino blocks as just another painting tool, and like my other painting methods I like marks and imperfections, they are part of my process. I suppose many other artists working in print would have a similar outlook, but I always assume since they would as a rule be more proficient in the art of block printing, they would be much more careful about the actual quality of the ink transfer onto the paper.

I am now winding down for Christmas, but I bought watercolour paper today with the intention of painting a couple of watercolours over the next week or so. It is a long time since I painted in watercolour, so I am going to enjoy the experience.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well the snow is still with us...

I have not painted at all in the last week although I am glad to say my back is not paining me this week, I'm hopeful that it has healed... I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I help to hang the INEB exhibition in the law library on Saturday, the opening has been postponed for a week though due to the weather conditions. Only half the artists were able to get their work in on Saturday so more paintings will need to be hung over the week so I am not sure how the exhibition will look by the weekend...and the opening next monday evening.

We still have loads of snow, and ice, we were lucky enough to get the car out on Saturday and deliver the paintings to the show but we have extremely icy conditions now and we are unable to drive out of the house.

On the bright side, we are saving petrol! At least someone is enjoying the snow even if it builds up on her legs and ears.....
The dog wants to go out and play constantly, she thinks the snow is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It obviously holds lots of interesting scents......

Monday, November 29, 2010

A good start to Christmas sales.

Happily I sold at the last group show over the weekend, my framing bill has been paid and I'm well into profit. Now I am much more upbeat about the third show opening next week. I seemed to buck the trend at the last show, where sales were well below last year in general, but many artists had work for sale at reduced prices, and I am of the opinion this hurts both the sales and those who have invested in the work previously. I resisted the temptation to do this, even in the depressed market, and more than doubled my last years figures for the same show.
Hopefully my success will continue, giving me a base to work from next year, until the economy turns up.

In the meanwhile we are experiencing extreme cold and heavy snowfalls, two months earlier than usual. According to the forecasts we are going to have it for at least two weeks.... I dunno what happened to global warming it's getting colder!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bankrupted by the banks, now we are being shafted again.

I've just been browsing the catalogue of the Auction sale of the Bank of Ireland's art collection tomorrow, the first trache from 3,000 works, expected to sell for 1.2 million euro, just in time to totally screw up the Christmas market/sales for the contemporary artists. After all, how many serious art buyers do you get in a population of 3.5 million?

I have three group exhibitions opening over the next week. Any guesses at how many of the art collectors are going to have some money left?? It seems to be a day for me to be complaining today. Hopefully the first exhibition which opens tomorrow evening will cheer me up. At least I've only none to not sell in this one, just 20 yards away from the Bank's Art Auction...:(
Yes you guessed it, the Banks have screwed us again. The country has been more or less bankrupted by the bankers, all who seem to be laughing all the way to their offshore bank accounts and their multi million euro pensions. The government have finally been caught out in their outright lies to the voters. And finally, for Christmas we are losing our sovereignty, sold out to the IMF to pay for the golden circle's gambling debts. All of which the working people will have to pay back anyway while the rich, and the super rich have run off with their cash elsewhere.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Water is interesting.

I have a fascination with water, be it still, running or other. Water holds mystery. Pools and streams have fascinated me ever since I got my first wetting in a small pond at the age of five. There is a world of seldom seen dramas under the surface, waiting to be discovered in little cameos, appearing like mirages in isolated clarity behind the reflections of normal light. A world of fish and crustaceans, that is also full of other life unknown in the world above.

Mystery is to be found in a small rock-pool, the finger of the incoming tide creeping in toward the pool, seeking to free the mysteries hidden below the reflected blue. This is what makes water so interesting. Each time you look into a pool of water a different mystery can be found, like the water itself, the mystery is fluid.

This has an influence on my work. Again and again I come back to painting water, it's like a child playing in the rock pool, hunting for little crabs, or fishing for minnow with a net in the local park's pond. I am reliving the excitement of childhood while exploring the light and movement on the surface as an adult.

At heart I'm still the five year old fishing in pools and puddles.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Storms ahead..

I left my work into Holles Street for the Art Sale in aid of One in Four in the Department of Justice and Law reform at 51 St. Stephens Green, Dublin on the 25th of November.
The weather is getting stormy, we are due winds of up to 80 miles an hour this evening, just short of Hurricane force.
Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:06
Extremely windy or stormy today with gusts of 100 to 140 km/hr. The most severe winds in exposed parts of Ulster and Connacht. Widespread heavy and thundery showers with the risk of hail. The showers will merge into longer spells of rain in the North. The top temperatures will be between 9 and 12 degrees.


Gale force winds will moderate later tonight but it will stay very blustery throughout the night. The showers will continue in the North and West but it will become mainly dry elsewhere. The lowest temperatures will be between 5 and 8 degrees.
I hate high winds :( It's a evening for buttoning down the hatches and huddling around a fire. It will be unsafe to be out in the Van anyway, I'm glad I made the delivery this morning.

Here are photo's of the two small 8 by 8 inch (20cm) canvases I was working on. They have not photographed well, the colour balances are all over the place. The blue shadow areas in the top painting are almost black in the actual work itself.

It must be an effect of the light, or the background behind the works when I photographed them. I tried manipulating the balances on the computer, but they would not sort themselves out between the bluer areas and the dark reds, and forget about worrying about the oranges and yellows in the highlights. It is possibly a result of trying to photograph such small works.

At this stage I have taken 6 seperate photographs of each, trying to get some kind of reasonable colour correction. You can get a rough

idea of what they are like though. They are two more views from Carna, Connemara.

Two variations on a theme, that actually look quite good in the flesh.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An excuse not to start work.....

I'm struggling to paint a few small works. I don't like working small :(
I wish the economy didn't necessitate creating smaller works for the Christmastime market, but needs must. I'd much rather be working larger. In reality, a small work takes as much time and endeavour as a larger one, although the selling price is much less. I find it difficult to get engrossed in a small work, and when painting it there is not enough room to let my brushes really make marks, everything needs to be controlled. It means there are no happy accidents (little cameo areas that please the eye) during the underpainting to assimilate into the painting..

I find these often make a work, well, at least from my perspective, they make it interesting in a different way. I think I may have to do a large painting when I have finished these few. I have put myself under pressure now, having left it so late to do the small pieces, they need to be finished soon so that they can be framed in the next week or two. So I can't spend long on here typing. It's back to the easel and oil paints........

Friday, November 5, 2010

November is a week old already...

This is the photo of the other painting I had been
talking about. You may regognise it from this one on the right I had posted here earlier this year. Itself a reworked plein air painting originally done on site near Glinsk.
The painting still needs work on the foreground
but there is not a lot to do on it. In the meantime I have not been working for the last week, other things taking over my time. I hope to get stuck in in the studio next week though. This weekend I'll be visiting friends exhibiting at the Art Fair in the RDS in Dublin, and I want to try to get to the Artist's forum in Tallaght Saturday evening too.
Life can get very busy at times, I should take a leaf out of it's book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A pleasant surprise in the mail.

I received my invitation to the opening of the 3rd International Ex-Libris Biennale today. My submission to the Biennale is included on the fron t of the invitation.

If you didn't see it in my earlier post it is six from the bottom left. Sadly I won't be at the grand opening. It's hard to get a Taxi to and from the venue.. LOL.

I am quite busy doing everything except painting at the moment. Hopefully I will get back down to serious painting next week. I still have to organise some frames for the upcoming Christmas shows. If you read this Liam, I'll see you tomorrow. :D

I really need to get organised rather than leave it all to the last minute. Hopefully I will sell a few over the pre-christmas shows, I also need to decide if I am going to do another show other than the four already planned. I still have to finish proposals for my hoped for show next year.

Friday, October 15, 2010

River Sheen, Bonane, Kenmare

This photograph is not particularly good, mainly due to poor light and an automatic flash. This is the river Sheen painting. I have finished the rework now, the painting is heavily influenced by my recall of the warm sun and the 'lazy afternoon' of our trip to Cork and Kerry earlier in the year.

This is the view across the road from Molly Gallivans farm and mill shop, on the Glengarriff road. There is an interesting carved monk in the carpark, but as usual I was more interested in the river. I will take a better picture later on when I have daylight. I hope to finish the other work, Cashel Bay, tomorrow or Sunday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I am working on another painting from Connemara. It still needs work as I am not happy with the foreground. I am also working on another landscape, this one of the river sheen in west Cork. It is in the middle of it's fourth rework from the original plein air study.

I took time off to fish the last few days of the trout fishing season, so I am only just back into my studio today. I will, I hope, rework the foreground on the Connemara painting tomorrow and Saturday, as I am almost satisfied with the river sheen painting. I am looking at it now, I see one small adjustment to the waterfall that is needed to correct what is actually an optical illusion within angles of the fall of the water. It has taken a while to see where the 'problem' is, although I knew it was there somewhere, but it is not obvious, even to my eye.

Now as to the fishing, you will see by the photograph of lough Sheelin, conditions did not suit the fishing. However I did manage to catch a few even in the sweltering sunshine with no cloud or breeze. It was great to have such warm bright weather so late in the year too, it will shorten the winter, and we had a very relaxing couple of days on the water.... just look at Noel.....

There is more to fishing than just catching fish... and you will notice this is towards the evening by the low sun shadows and Noel wearing his coat against the coming evening chill...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Four leaf clovers.........

I found this while out for a walk with the dog and other family today. The proverbial four leaf clover...

....I spotted it from a distance of about 12 feet, it seemed to wave at me from a clump of clover leaves growing near the path, I walked over and there it was, one only four leaf clover, and as much as I looked I couldn't find another one. I am looking forward to our good luck :D

I have been busy painting this week, I haven't even been fishing, but I'm off for the last two days of the season Monday and Tuesday (11th & 12th) so it was good to get work done. I have finoished another piece, based on a study of Cashel in connemara. I'll upload a photo later, I'm tired after my walk and too lazy to do it now.. :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cashel Bay II

I reworked the foliage in the Cashel Bay painting. I thought I may as well upload the photograph now. I don't think I'll do any more work on the painting now.
In the meantime I am working on a new project, I hope to obtain some grant aid towards it next year. Consequently I am busy preparing outlines, aims and benefits while planning out the project.
I will need to check up on deadlines for funding and exhibition applications next week so that I am prepared enough when the time comes to submit proposals. Either way I intend to try to be well prepared and advanced along the project before the new year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

final work on the Carna Bay painting

Here is the promised photograph of the finished Carna Bay painting.
I am happy with the effect.
It will go on exhibition before Christmas, hopefully it won't be coming back home.
I'm off back to my studio now, I've to finish another one or two works this coming week. All the exhibition catalogue notices for the pre Christmas shows are starting to arrive and the deadlines are from only two weeks away. The reason I have just photographed this one is to send a Jpeg image for a catalogue inclusion. I find if you are including a colour photograph of a work it is always better to use the smallest work as it is less likely to be missed amongst larger pieces.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More work from my Connemara sketchbook....

I'm still working away.... this is another work in progress....

It is a painting of Carna Bay in Connemara. I have done more work on both it and the previous posts painting, but I have not yet photographed them. I will take more pics tomorrow when it is daylight.

I also repainted part of the Cashel bay painting, but I need to rework it again. I'm still not happy with it.

I have also started a large painting from a sketch of the sky road, Clifden, Connemara... again the light beat me for the photos.

This work (pictured) is 12 inches square. I have replaced the boulder top left with bramble/scrub, mainly to solidify and anchor the horizon. There are also more details and highlights within the painting in general. Along with the removal of the greens to the left I have also rebalanced the contrast between the land and sea by cooling the distant blue down slightly. A lot of the changes to works in progress are subtle, fellow artists will notice them, and usually see what and where changes are needed. However, many think that paintings just "happen" as we work on them. Much of what goes into art is more than just what we see. Apart from being influenced by what we feel, we also manipulate a scene to allow the work to be visually appealing and easy on the eye, while keeping the viewer within the painting itself, involving them long enough to allow them to be influenced by the artists intent. Couple this with creating interest and tension within a work, it is so much more than a photograph can ever be.

I hope to get a chance to photograph the reworked piece tomorrow, if not I'll do it Tuesday and upload it for you to see. In the meantime I will leave you with a photo of Carna Bay. It will give you an idea of what the landscape is like in reality. You will also notice how the photograph also flattens the perspective, removing the (feeling of vertigo) sense of depth/height of the shoreline above the fallen tide. Also in the photo you will see the tops of the brambles over the wall which I have used to enhance the work........... as yet to be shown.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indian Summer...

We are in the middle of an Indian Summer. It has gone quite warm again, and in between showers it is nice and sunny. My cold work has disappeared again.

Here is a painting I started yesterday, based on studies of Cashel Bay, Connemara, from earlier in the year. I did further work today, as you will see in the second photograph below.

There is still quite a bit to do on the piece, I will be adding some Montbretia into the foreground foliage later, and I will probably have to do more work on the far shore, but until the hot oranges go in (montbretia) the foreground I will not know for certain how warm or cool the mid-distance will need to be.

To the right is a photo of Cashel taken from the same area, however this from further around to the left of the first Sketch. The tree is from another drawing based on trees that are actually across the road from the bay. But the photo serves to show where the warm colours are coming from, dry grasses and red seaweeds. It was taken too early in the year to show
any of the montbretia flowers that grow wild in the area. Although they are more prevalent in the far south-west,(Kerry and West Cork) the orange flowers thrive in the acidic soils and can add great colour beside the dark red Fuschia bushes that make up many hedgerows along the west coast of Ireland.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Summer's end part two....

I have finished the painting I spoke of in my last post.... I have titled it Gathering Storm. To this end I have used a number of techniques within the piece. The sky is obvious, but within the painting of the sky there are echos and shadows of the underpainted tree branches. These have been left intentionally, they add a feeling of restlessness movement to the trees without animation in the painting. The lines and bow curves of the tree branches are designed to give the impression of whipping movement and tension within the tree. Within the painting of the tree boughs and branches I have tried to create a restlessness using uneven brush marks along with the uncoordinated shapes of the branches.
The magpies themselves also help the stormy effect. The top left magpie is either struggling to perch, or just arriving to join the others.
I have used six of the birds in reference to the old Rhyme, One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy. Five for silver, six for gold. Seven for a secret, never to be told ,eight for a wish, nine for a kiss.
Ten for a bird you must not miss.
The number of birds is designed to help the collectability of the painting, being a good number to have if someone is superstitious. The number is not an important factor in the composition, just the variety of their stance, the top left craning it's neck looking down, as is the bottom right bird, as they do when scolding the cat. These are incidental to the mood of the painting which also carries the threat of the storm within the tree itself, and from the dirty grey sky behind.
I feel the painting works well, pleasing to the eye while still holding the threat of an impending storm, with the cameo of magpies adding further interest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer's end

Winters coming....I worked on a painting today. Now I'm looking at it on the mantelpiece, and it's icy cold in the artificial light. The summers warms have gone, just like the swallows.

I am still amazed at the subconsious effects on my paintings. I am working on an idea I have been developing recently. It will be called Gathering Storm and is based on Magpies in the neighbouring tree from my studio scolding the cat from the other side. I have created stormy skies behind the tree, which at the moment is in sillouette - which increases the wintery effect - and I'm hoping will warm the painting much more when re-painted/finished.

While I am feeling the effects of the day in the studio, I am now able to work for a large portion of the day. I hope to start producing a few finished pieces soon, it's getting close to the pre-Christmas shows. I know it's still September, but an oil takes at least six weeks to dry before it goes to the framer's. I will soon have to work out what work will go where, I already have two requests for images of work to go shows for the brochure/catalogue. These also take a couple of weeks or more to produce.

Back to the work .... I may turn this painting to the wall.. ..I've an urge to carry it back out to the studio, but I don't want to overdo the working.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's September already....

I still haven't been painting recently, I have managed to do preliminary drawings and other associated work. I hope to be working soon, as I'm in need of some new work for a few exhibitions coming up. I am leaving a work into a mixed selected show this month, and if it sells I must find a few more for the shows that are coming up in November or I will have to put mixed series into them which I prefer not to do.
I am going away for the weekend on the 10th of the month. It is a birthday treat, it's that time of year. When I get back I really will have to knuckle down to some painting.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still no progress in the studio.

I have tried to do some work in the studio, but after half an hour I have to give up. I'm still in constant back pain. Physio helps short term, but it is a long painful journey. I try to keep pushing, mainly to improve my mobility, and to loosen the muscles that are in spasm, but in reality I am just giving myself more pain for very little effect.
I am unable to work, it is impossible to concentrate while in pain. The upshot is I am not painting at all.

At the same time I don't want to labour the point either. However it is impossible to talk about my work on the blog when I am not doing any, and cannot even plan work to do. It has now been almost 3 months, without producing any meaningful work. I hope I can start working again soon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The cost of everything and the value of nothing....

I had a recent discourse with someone who thought €50 too much to charge for their painting. While not exactly a masterpiece it was quite competent, and of saleable quality. It left me quite shocked. How can someone who claims to be an 'Artist' and feels their work is good enough to sell not value it at least at minimum wage levels?
It is bad enough that people who don't either appreciate or understand the value of art cannot see it does have a monetary value. Even as an hourly labour. That someone who professes to 'love' art and who calls themselves to quote, " a good" artist cannot see that art deserves paying for in my view is scandalous.

Even without the cultural value of art, painting, sculpting etc. deserve at least a skilled labourers hourly rate for the work that goes into producing it. Whatever the 'value' of a finished piece of art as an object or piece of furniture to someone decorating a room, I cannot comprehend someone who says they love their art not valuing the labour that goes into it as of less value than a menial piece-work job.

With artists like this, it is a lost cause trying to educate a public that has very little knowledge of the value of art. A painter decorator is seen as a skilled labourer, and is paid a good hourly rate to paint a wall magnolia. Why should an artist be paid less for the hours spent painting a canvas with a multitude of hues and tones, more importantly how can someone who knows the work that is put into it not actually see the elementary comparison.

Some people love to paint paintings as a past-time, they enjoy it. I can accept it is a lovely hobby for them. Some people enjoy D.I.Y. and decorating, and do carpentry, decorating etc. as a hobby. This does not mean that the value of a skilled labourer or tradesman is any less. Art as a hobby as opposed to a career should not mean the value of an artists labour is non-existent either.

We have come a long way from the times when artists were seen as skilled tradesmen, more valued as a career than many other trades. Now we are expected to starve/suffer for our art and accept our labour is not worth as much as serving behind a shop counter. Forget the old style apprenticeships, we now have third level colleges educating/training our artists for years, or other artists spending years practising and learning their craft. The value of this?
Under €50?
If I go to the doctor it costs more than this for a 15 minute consult - if it takes longer I'm asked to book two! A repair man will charge €75 minimum to call out to fix something, plus charging full retail for materials.

I accept there are market forces. I accept they will dictate what the 'value' of things are. What I cannot accept is that someone who claims to value art, can actually think it has so little value, even in hours labour.

The reality is if artists cannot hold onto the value of artists and their need for a reasonable return for a days work, how can we educate non artists to the fact?

Answers on a postcard please........

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The importance of being....

The Arts Council of Ireland have published a new survey of work-life-pay and conditions for professional artists in Ireland.

It makes interesting reading, if a little bit academic in language. I note with a wry smile that many of the artists views are almost identical to mine. I wouldn't consider doing anything else, I'd do it all again- but I would not recommend the life to anyone else...

Sadly once again it is official, we suffer for our art, certainly financially compared to other careers and professionals.
In a way it is a little bit useless, in as much that the only people who will take any serious notice of the findings will be the artists. I don't believe it will have any effect on government policies, and it certainly won't convince the general public to spend more money on art. (even if it does I'm sure very little of it will come my way LOL)
In reality it is not telling us anything we don't already know, with the exeption of adding figures and statistics to the general knowledge, the facts have been known for a long time and it is a world-wide trend.

Artists are not seen as professionals. The arts are not seen as a proper career/job and while many accept the cultural and social benefit of a healthy arts culture it is not seen as having monetary value. People will not spend their money on arts, with the exeption of a few novels and popular music events. While the public in general accept educated professions outside the arts should be paid accordingly, educated artists are not seen as deserving of the same rate of enumeration for their work. The world needs plumbers, mechanics etc. and pays them quite well to fix leaks or other problems, but while art is seen as being needed in society, it is not seen as neccesary to pay artists to work.

In truth we don't do it for the money, but at the same time we cannot eat job satisfaction, nor can we pay the mechanics or plumbers with it either.

Ahhh one day my Utopia wil come... in the meantime I'll go fishing occaisionally and create my art, secure in the knowledge that there are a few patrons willing to pay the artists for their labours, even if a little too infrequently....

I'll leave the post with a quote from Pablo Picasso (thanks Molly)

I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunshine in the garden and the studio.

I spent four hours in the studio this afternoon. I was painting away, and the work went very well. Now, however, I am in severe pain with my lower back. I obviously over-did the standing and painting thing...........

I totally re-painted a work that was almost finished, a view near Cashel bay, Connemara. It was a mix of reds and ochres when I started. It is now a pleasing combination of Blues and greens...It is amazing how a couple of tweeks in tone can lead to a total repaint and change of colour. The whole work is transformed from a struggling landscape into a painting that offers summer's enjoyment with the influence of today's colours. Blue skies where were grey, lush growth, verdant where it was dry dead foliage has transformed the piece into a cheerful painting instead of a cold and barren landscape/seascape. sometimes I surprise myself
Instead of 'fixing' a nagging doubt not fully resolved in the painting, I let my subconcious loose and attacked the whole work with abandon, allowing the now into the painting. It is still in effect a painting of Cashel, and Connemara, but more as one would expect from a John Hinde postcard depicting an Emerald Isle, with glorious sunshine and deep blue waters. I am not worried though, it is what the work needed, updating into the summer sunshine of today, rather than the early spring/end of winter the original sketching was done in.

Enough for now, I'll look again with fresh eyes tomorrow.... who knows? it may drift back from the light a little.....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Boys and their toys....

I bought a new toy, well to be honest it only cost €29, with a credit for €29 thrown free.
It is a Nokia E63 phone, complete with wireless internet connectivity and a qwerty keyboard.Isn't it amazing how fast and how far internet technology has come in a short time. This means my new (6 months old) notebook is now obsolete....I just need to take my phone with me.
I have been playing with it today, it arrived in this mornings post from vodafone, and I nearly know how to operate it now. LOL.
I am wondering what the battery life is going to be like, but it seems fine so far. It comes complete with video phone capability, camera with built in flash, the usual bluetooth, 3G and quadband and also has office and email capabilities (I've set up the email and internet already) plus GPS and sat-nav with download capability for more apps.....who needs more applications....I can't handle what I already have ??????????
I am not going to try to upload a photo to blogger with it at the moment, though it probably is possible...

that's all for now....back to play....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Painting again

I have been back in the studio today. Painting!

I managed about two hours of work, but I was feeling the pain even before I stopped.

I'm glad I made the effort though, it's nice to get back to it. I'm suffering back pain after the session, but at least I was able to produce some reasonable work. The pain shows I'm stretching and pushing the muscles, which will be beneficial in the long run. It took me three days to recover from last Friday's Physio, he really worked on my lower back area and the saying no pain - no gain means I'm getting a lot of pain while I'm being sorted out.........

I let myself loose today, using a knife to create a painting -- which I hadn't done for years, but it allowed me to work quickly and express myself without worrying too much about where the work was going. It is a smallish triptych, 3 - 16 by 12 inch canvases.

The scene is towards Roundstone in Connemara. I purlioned some of Christine's Oil paint to create it. Her paints contain a lot more filler than mine do, and I couldn't afford to use this amount of my paint -- I laid it on thick!

I enjoyed it so much I did a second 14 by 10, also a painting from my Connemara sketchbook.

Now I just have to figure what to do with them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Arts in South Dublin.

I spent this morning at a South Dublin Arts consultation meeting. What struck me most was the lack of complaints arising from the last five year strategy. All seemed to realise that a lot was achieved by the Arts office over the period. There was discussion as to what else was needed, gaps in the system and what we felt was needed as artists and facilitators. There seemed to be a fairly good consensus from most contributors, so much so that some who were asked for their view stated that their ideas were already there added by previous speakers.
There was an idea that struck a chord with many of the individual artists (as opposed to the arts organisations) to have a 'local' social networking site for the arts. This will allow us to discuss items of importance offer some mentoring or support, organise collaborative projects or just arrange get-togethers. A simple idea that has been missed even though many of us use social networking already. There is a move towards a forum/regular get-together starting in September facilitated by the Arts office.

The Arts are looking bright in South Dublin.

Personally, I had my second visit to the physiotherapist this evening. Hopefully Iwill be improved enough to start work soon. I've an itchy paintbrush, it's a pity about the body that will use it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I have started Physiotherapy...

I am paying someone to half kill me with pain, physio is a lot like S&M... LOL!
However it seems to have reduced my 'chronic' pain considerably. I'll know by how much in the morning. I am hoping I may be fit to paint in a week or so, it will be a relief as I'm getting rather annoyed with myself and the lack of work.

I have been looking at with a view to using it on my re-design of my website. A friend has used it on a website he built here it is based on php script. What I like about it is the fact that it is a searchable Gallery, so visitors can look for work by date, price or particular subjects. This will save me creating different galleries on the site, I will examine the system coding to see how easy it is to adapt over the next few weeks, and of course check my current hosting will handle the php, the script for the process is 37mb. I am not sure how this will effect the amount of bandwith usage, so I'll check this out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's July, Holiday time for all school kids...

In the meantime, I'm still on enforced holiday with neck pain and lack of movement. I'd love to get back to my work but I can't concentrate on it. If I can't concentrate I'm only wasting my time trying.
I've been filling in time with a little bit of Web designing, and watching the world cup. With the Final getting close I'll have to find something else to occupy my time if I am not fit for physiotherapy soon. It is quite annoying, as, with all this hot weather I would be able to work quite fast. I'm missing all this good drying weather, I know that oils dry by oxidisation rather than evaporation, but heat and dry weather still make a huge difference in the drying time. But apart from the aches I cannot even hold my palette in comfort (without pain) and I'm too conscious of the pain to be able to ignore it.

I considered going up to Sligo to look at our cottage last week, but even travelling short distances in a car or the Van is very uncomfortable and painful. I am not quite confined to the house, but I think twice about the need to travel somewhere and don't as a rule go too far.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Midsummer has gone already..

It is hard to believe we are already halfway through another year. I seem to have got little done so far. At the same time it is great to have such a summer as we are having recently. I don't think we have had weather like this for at least five years, after the last few weeks I'm not wishing to go to the Sun again... It is here at home, I am spending lots of time sitting by my pond watching my fish get fat. I tend to feed them more often when it's sunny, I'm not such an easy touch when it's raining... LOL
Meanwhile the Blue-tit chicks are exploring the tree outside my studio, happily eating all the greenfly and caterpillars they can find. The warm summer has helped all the small birds get a good breeding season in after a few poor years with the cold and wet summers we have had. Hopefully they will rear a second brood too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I still have a lot of pain and discomfort, so painting is out. I've even broken a tooth with all the jaw clenching I've been doing with the constant ache/pain in my neck and back. I have been watching the Soccer World Cup, it is not keeping me away from anything more important at the moment.
I wanted to get stuck in and do some work today, but even before I started I knew it was not feasible, my attention was on the aches without even being aware of it, still, it could be a lot worse. The sun is still shining here, and the South of France have suffered severe flash flooding, just like the US last week.

There is always someone worse off than yourself.

My thoughts are with those who have lost in the two floods.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another enforced break.......

Just as work was progressing well again I've had another setback! I was rear-ended in the van at a set of traffic lights on Monday night. Now my left shoulder, neck and back are suffering the effects. Whiplash injuries are not fun, I can't work, I can't drive -- even when I get the van repaired... at least the van is repairable... it's not going to look like new but it will be fit for use. The insurance company have called it a write-off because of the age, but they are willing to pay enough to get the back and the van floor pulled back out and the bumper replaced, (the floor on the right hand side has been pushed in by about 6 inches) but not the respray. They originally valued the Van at half of what I spent on it 3 weeks ago when I had the little jobs done at the garage (because of it's age).

I'm told it is going to be at least six weeks before I'm going to be able to move with ease again. That means it will be six weeks before I can get back to my painting with any comfort. I can't fish either.... Oh well, at least I'll get work done on the computer and maybe a little selling too.
At least we have good weather and I can sit in the sun while recuperating.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grasse, rework of a Plein Air study..Work in Progress

I have reworked the painting of Grasse, in Provence. I have 'made' a video of the process using the photos. I also want to give another commentary post, explaining the stages and my reasons for the changes made.

Here is a photograph of the view that I painted originally.

You will notice by the tree to the right of the photo that this plein air study was painted slightly to the right of the photograph. Both the tree and the roof angle are different. You will also notice that I simplified the buildings roof in the study as I didn't want too much detail to interfer with the landscape. Here is the advantage of painting studies, the landscape has become secondary to the line and character of the tree in the foreground.

I have started by reworking the sky, overpainting the clouds and creating a gradient down the sky to create both distance and heat.
I then re-painted the tree-tops/trees in the foreground removing the cold tones to allow the trees to come further forward and the distant landscape to go back.
I warmed the distant mountains, and cooled and darkened the foothills, this creates further depth in the painting which originally was quite flat.

My next step was further rework of the foliage in the foreground, and I have painted in a rail fence, using the reference below

this was taken elsewhere in Grasse although close by to the site and is contemporary to the original view.

This includes removing the 'Red/Copper' foliage in the bottom right corner which both detracted from the main area of the landscape and allowed the painting to drift off the canvas.
The Cypres tree on the left was removed as it divided the painting into thirds with the one on the right. The tall building in the mid foreground has had the green area to it's right removed and a building painted in, sending it back into the town rather than allowing it to move too far forward into the trees.

The railings have been added to allow the pine tree to become the subject of the painting, as this was my favourite part of the study originally. These also help to separate the position of the easel (including the tree) from the rest of the painting, giving further depth, and perspective to the painting.

My next move was to reposition the roof line of the housebelow the roadway. Both lowering the pitch and moving the apex from the center of the painting. This improves the look of the roof and helps the balance and movement throughout the picture.

I then have added highlights to the railings in a pale green. I have reworked the foliage at the bottom right corner again, removing the curve look of the green shrub and adjusting the bluer folige to make it less stringy and more solid. I have not allowed the top rail of the fence to go all the way out of the left hand side of the painting, combined with the highlight colour and tone this has stopped it dividing the picture across the bottom.

Finally I have added some of the sky blue into the highlights on the fence and left the work as finished. I have left the Pine tree as it is, painted loosely and direct. It is this freshness that makes the painting, the rest of the landscape is just background to the tree although still recognizable as Grasse.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A re-worked plein air study.

I have finished re-working this Plein air study from St. Marguerites Island in the Bay of Cannes, Cote D'Azur.
The couple of areas in this photo with a shine have already been started on. (I decided to photograph the work in progress after starting)
Starting from the base oil sketch, the composition is very busy, and the small branch to the left of the right hand tree is mimicking the center trunk giving a regimented and fragmented look to the work.
I have adjusted the curve on the right hand tree already, the dark blue of the original sketch is visible to the left of the reworked trunk. I have put a base coat on the small branch, which I am about to paint out next. I have also painted areas of the 3 tree trunks
and darkened the dark area behind the lefthand tree.

In photo two, I have done further work on the tree branches. There are areas of light added to some of them. I have also emphasised the curve and twist of the middle tree trunk.
I have painted some foliage in the foreground, top left, this adds depth to the painting.
I have greened up the main area of foliage to the back.
Second coats have been given to the two areas of ground under the trees. The little piece of wall has been painted out also, it does nothing for the composition and is not needed. The dark line of the old wall foundation on the other hand adds interest and does the secondary job of creating contrast to the strong line of the tree's roots on the surface of the ground. These roots make the trees more interesting.
The section of the Island in the background has been repainted. This has been cooled down and adjusted in tone to complement the newly painted sea and sky areas.

In the third photo I have reduced the area of foliage to the right hand side of the painting. This area was to square and also quartered the painting. I had a little fun with this part though...creating a little map of Ireland out of it....
I have left the basic square, but I have broken it up to make it less solid.
It has also allowed more of the horizon to be visible.
Although not noticable in the photograph there is a small variety in the colouring of the sea. This gives a pleasant vibration to flat blues of the background, and not just in the closeness of the colours in the sky to the sea itself. This has the effect of giving heat and life in what could have been a very flat and un-interesting area.
I have also created another curve and twist in the righthand tree trunk to give a better shape to the fork. Finally the foliage on ground and behind the trees has been re-worked and detail added.
I feel the painting is finished now. Though there is always a possibility I may see some change to make in a month or two.
This last photo is of the view, though not the same angle, which was a little to the left I think. But it explains some of the changes made, and the original sketch.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Missing the Sunshine...

It has been a cold grey day here today. I am already missing the warmth of the south of France.
Here is one of the paintings from the Cote D'Azur, the fort on St. Marguerita's Island in the bay of Cannes. ( It will need a little re-working. )
It helps cheer me up... :)
The rain we have had has obviously brought the river into flood, the Heron has been in my garden pond today, trying to steal my goldfish. I don't mind herons normally, I see lots of them along the rivers when I am fishing, and I enjoy watching them fish themselves.. ...but I do object to them eating my pets!
Dubh is not a particularly good watchdog either, she will chase it off--after you have told her it's there in the garden. Well at least I don't have to Bark myself.............
It looks like we will have showery weather all week, with cloud and temperatures struggling to reach 10 degrees celcius. Summer must be here :(

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cashel Bay, Connemara, Re-worked:

I reworked the painting from
April 2nd's post.

I replaced the lobster pots with nets. These are depicted with some orange and onion netting, glued down and painted on and over.
I also reworked some other areas of the painting, particularly the foreground area which I warmed up to increase the depth of the landscape.

The 3D effect of the scrap netting is interesting in itself. I managed to set the bright colours back with judicous use of paint. while still allowing the colour to come through, while the painterly effect on the plastic bouys still allows them to sit in the foreground while appearing to be three dimensional alongside the netting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's that time of year again....

I have sent my van off for it's service and roadworthiness certificate. It has passed again, now it is being serviced. It is always a relief to know it passed the emmissions tests, etc. the van is like an old comfortable shoe, it just about drives itself. It is now 15 years old and I hope to get another decade at least with it. The tailgate is ideal for both fishing and painting, being that you can stand under it when it is open and work/change/paint out of the rain. A bit like an oversized umbrella.
The large back in the van serves as storage for all of my fishing gear, my full-size radial studio easel fits in comfortably....much better that the lighter sketching easels for larger plien air works. Numerous wet canvases can be laid out in the back.. short I'd be lost without it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I am back from my travels

I am back from the CoteD'Azur in the south of France. We stayed in Cannes, but travelled around quite a bit. Up the coast as far as Monaco, and up into Provence. There were many artworks on display outdoors in Montecarlo.
These were a little bit spoiled by the groundworks in progress for the F1 Grand Prix. We always seem to go to Monaco when these eyesores (wire fencing and Barriers) are in place.
I much preferred the quiet and calm of St Marguerita Island, just off the coast at Cannes. This Island is the site of the Fort in which the 'Man in the Iron Mask' was held prisoner.
Later in the week we took a trip inland and travelled to Grasse, in Provence where we visited the Perfume Museum.
This trip we did not get into any of the museums of art, although I had intended visiting the Renoir museum in Antibes. There is only so much you can do in a week, and there is still much for us to return for another time. I hope to stay and do a little painting around Le Cannet too, where Pierre Bonnard did much of his work.
Now I'm home again, I have much work to do. The grass has been growing extra fast while I was gone...
....I think the dog will nearly get lost in the hay-meadow out in the back garden! and she needs a haircut too, just like the lawn.
Oh well! I should get into the studio about mid-week, I have to take my van for it's annual Roadworthiness test on Tuesday. I am assuming it will pass.. and it is getting a service too.
It is a pity the weather has cooled down again here though. I enjoyed the Sun and the heat in France last week,