Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter feeding.

I have a steady stream of finches to my bird-seed feeder outside the window. Chaffinches, lots of Goldfinches and a regular flock of Redpolls.
Already, only 3 weeks into the "feeding season" (cold winter) I am already feeding a full feeder of bird-seed every day.
In the meantime the tits are happily eating sunflower seeds out the back from another feeder, and the Greenfinches seem to prefer the peanuts to the seed feeder.

At least the Redpolls eat most of the seed that the Goldfinches chuck away looking for the Niger Seed amongst the other varieties.

In the winter we usually get a wide variety of birds to our feeders, but so far this year there are very few other species yet. This is probably due to the mild weather we have had so far, when it gets colder it will force many birds further south and west to our more moderate climate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Glenmacnass, Wicklow.

I have just finished (well almost) my last commission for Christmas. It is a view of Glenmacnass in Co. Wicklow, 1 meter square.
I have one or two little touches I wish to do, but in the main it is finished now.
I have photographed it along the way so you can see the work in progression, from the original sketch/design to the finished piece.
This is the Graphite sketch I worked from, giving me my composition and design.
The next stage was drawing and blocking in on the canvas with thin washes of oil paint.
followed swiftly by blocking in my base colours before rechecking my composition against reference photographs. Sadly it is too wintry to try to work on site at this time of year.

This was followed by further blocking in and a little re-drawing, mainly in the area of the waterfall and the larch trees to the top left.

This is a continuation of the blocking in process in the foreground, and I have been adding texture around the midground areas.

This is followed by further detail being added throughout the painting and adding more definition to the blocks of colour.

From here I have begun to finish off areas of the painting, mainly around the mid ground and the road and hedgerow leading to the cottage. I have also added life to the cottage roof.
From this stage on I have increased the detail around the Larch trees, the right hand hill and the cliff-face again. I have painted in the Birch tree over on the right hand side of the painting.
This is what unifies the whole of the right hand side of the work. The fine, strong branches, and the blockier twig areas binding the foreground to the background and a the same time taking the hard edge of the scree slope on the right and breaking it up, this is also helped by the green gorse bush growing out of it. I have started to bring the reds in by painting the fence in, with a rusty brown.
This final stage is where it has all come together. The repainting of the tree in the foreground. This has now been darkened and warmed up, and details such as the small branches added to break up the straight line again. The wire fence has been painted again, to reduce the red slightly as more purples, pinks and reds have been added to the tree itself making it a warmer grey than in the previous image, which has also brought the tree forward from the background cliff-face and the mid ground landscape.
Now the painting is finished as such the whole atmosphere has changed, and it reminds me of the weather we had the day I went up and took my reference photographs for the work.
I have managed to get light in the painting even though there was no sunlight to create highlights and shadows, and yet the work has the feel of a damp overcast November day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Receptions and parties....

I have framed my works for the exhibition in Clontarf GAA club on the 25th, 26th and 27th of November. Along with this painting of the Pigeonhouse, I am sending the two fish paintings I spoke about earlier
and I am also sending October Light . All works will be for sale at the show, (Seafield road, Clontarf, Dublin.) opening on Friday evening with a wine reception at and will continue on Saturday from 11am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.
I am really looking forward to the weekend as I have a party to go to, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with folks I haven't seen for years. It is amazing how time flies, and how you drift apart from your extended families over the years. As some family members are spread all over the world, it is not surprising though.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Clontarf, and Puppy dogs.

I think Clontarf is finished. I didn't do a lot more work to it, just some further work on the left-hand side. I have a plein-air frame left over from AITO in Wexford, which I have used. I think it suits the work. I just need to sign the painting before fixing it into the frame.
The painting will be in the Annual exhibition in Aras Cluain Tarbh, Seafield road, Clontarf, Dublin on 25th, 26th & 27th of November.
My little girl, Dubh, has just been operated on again at the vetenary surgery. The poor little dog has had two more growths removed and has two 10cm incisions, one on her back and one on her belly. The poor dog lost four teeth too, while the vet had her under anaesthetic.
We are not a happy puppy at the moment, and because of her losing the teeth she wasn't allowed a bone this evening when we had Lamb chops for dinner. The upside is that she is getting twice as many tasty treats, as she has to take five tablets a day instead of her usual three.
To the un-initiated that means bits of chicken, sausage or black-pudding with the pill hidden inside. These are called sweeties and are the highlight of the morning, and again in the evening, to the extent that I'm not allowed to forget them.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A work in progress.. Clontarf

These first two images are photos of the sea-front in Clontarf. They are in effect part of my referrences. The first painted image can be seen to follow the first photograph quite closely. (this is because the photo was framed to follow my main plan for the work) The second image is of the Cordyline foliage in beds along the front, and the third image is of other beds with palms, which suffered badly last winter.

The next three images are of the work in progress. I started by blocking in the old power station, and the foliage, along with a lamp-post. The background has been built up with layers of thick oil paint, and the white rings have been painted over the red of the chimneys. I added spirals into the foliage of the tree on the left. After ruminating for a while, mainly when the paint was curing, I decided the foliage needed to be less heavy. I made it much more stylised, allowing the sky to come through. I continued the same effect in the lower foliage, and brought the low sea-front wall into the painting. The third image has more work done both in the foreground, and on the lampost.
I don't think I am nearly finished yet, but the newer layers need to dry. While this happens I will study the work further and re-work it my imagination.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October light, Clontarf.

'October light, Clontarf.' oil on canvas; 30" by 15"
I have just finished a commissioned painting. Now I can go back to work to finish another for a group exhibition in North Dublin next month. I need to send my list of works in next week, so I'll need to have it finished, or nearly so, before then.
The painting illustrated is an earlier work, which I am sending to the same exhibition. It is a Plein air view of Howth Head from Clontarf, executed in oil paints with a painting knife. I want to combine it with my sea-bass painting (shown earlier) and the view of the pigeon-house that I am currently working on. I will endeavour to post the third work after the weekend, or if all goes well, before it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some landscape painting again..

My fish painting has come to a stop for a while. I have completed a couple of small landscape works this week for one of my galleries. They seem to be popular with some buyers at the moment. Possibly because they are small and affordable, they are only small studies so their price-point is lower than more finished and complicated pieces. I enjoy painting them at times, it is nice to be able to just paint what is in front of you, and by the time you start looking for the little details they are finished. Most of them are only 10" by 8", and sometimes I paint them 12" by 10". These sizes leave very little room for detail, so I can work quite loosely and freely. I have mislaid my camera so I have no images of the current work, these are two of an earlier trip... my phone cannot capture such small works, it doesn't have a facility for close-ups. I think I may have to invest in a new camera, unless we left it up in Sligo it seems to have vanished into thin air..???
These are painted with a knife which suits small works of large spaces. I'm off to Sligo this afternoon, for a final look for the aforementioned camera in the cottage and caravan. If I don't have any luck there it will be off to the camera shop I think.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finn Eces' salmon revisited.

I have used this theme before in my work, relatively recently in both paint (both in 2008) and a lino-cut print
still available. This newest creation is more abstracted. It is a painting following on from my two recent works, with use of thick impasto planes. I have used the prehistoric symbol for water across the top, (as in my award winning "Danube" Ex-Libris, and the most recent trout painting) and the background plane is built up within spirals and chevrons, all decorative elements of prehistoric artifacts. This built up layer is then carved with slashes in the paint naming the piece (for the true scholars out there, I know the ogham should read in the opposite direction.) Bradán Feasa, the Salmon of Knowledge. The Salmon itself originally was blocked in using similar colours to the background, silver/blue/green. I changed my mind however after considering the image for a while. As an angler I know that salmon turn dark red and brown after a period in the river. This salmon had eaten nine hazel-nuts from the tree of knowledge, therefor it would be autumn and the salmon would be dark red. I have left my thumb-print in the paint on the fishes gill-plate in reference to Fionn Mac Cumhaill's burn thumb. The colour of the fish can also be representative of the cooking process so a thumbprint would not be out of place in the narative.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Further work on my two fish paintings

Well, I reworked the water in this one a little. I think I may leave it now.
The second work has been reworked extensively, without the silver foil though. I am quite happy with this one as it is, and I have even signed off on it. Always a sign that I know I have done enough.
I am going off to lough Sheelin tomorrow, hopefully I'll catch another trout to use for further pieces along the lines of this one. That's my excuse anyway. ;)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Playtime in the studio... anything to get out of the clean-up.

I started a studio clear-out with interesting results. Those that know me will know I hate tidying.
I reworked an old landscape/seascape study I had laying around in the studio. I painted a sea-bass over part of the seascape, turning the work into a painting of a fish rather than the original intended work. I then painted the remaining sections with thick impasto colour, applied with a knife as a flat surface. The landscape/seascape was too weak to make a good painting, but it made an interesting back-drop for the Bass painting. I may still rework the foreground area, I feel it needs to be flattened more (It is actually flatter in colour and tone than the photograph).
I also reworked a quick trout study with the same thick flat paint technique, carving the prehistoric symbols for water through the paint. This is still experimental. I am going to rework this, in blue and steel grey rather than the green and earth tones. I have used these to give me a contrasting background before building up another layer or two, in which I intend to allow some under painting to bleed through.
These are canvases that I did not intend to continue with, so I can happily experiment with them. I am going to look for some silver foil for the second piece, to work into the surface, I have gold leaf in the studio but no silver. I will happily play with this one for a while. Why not? I'm having some fun... ...but it will have to wait unti Monday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Virtual Art Exhibition.

Our virtual exhibition via facebook is now on. See it here You will probably recognise Dubh..

I am now home from my fishing duties, tired but ready to paint, I started painting today but had to give up and tidy up the studio a bit first, the chaos was getting to me. It is still not finished but I'm getting there.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Early September, Autumn is here.

September has arrived. I will be absent for much of this month, I am just back from the lakes of Killarney where I fished as part of the Leinster team in the Interprovincial fly fishing championships. While I failed to make the top ten anglers I did do better than most, managing to weigh in four fish over the size limit. I had a pleasant day fishing though, much thanks to my boat partner Terence Keane, and our boatman/gillie Tommy O'Loughlin, who, coincidently, is a brother of my Autumn International team-mate Seamus, both of whom kept up witty banter all day. I managed to whitewash Terence (who was on his home water) 4-0 which makes me look a little better too. (Sorry Terence) Lough Leane (lower lake, Killarney) is a beautiful lake, surrounded by Killarney National Park. We set off for the day from under Ross Castle and much of the time it was hard to concentrate on the fishing instead of the scenery.

I travel to Grafham water in 12 days time so painting will be out between now and then. I need to finish a few jobs and ensure everything that should be done before I go is done, business wise. I also need to finish my fly-tying and other research and make sure I have every eventuality covered including spares of all important items for the trip itself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

two black babies...

What is Dubh waiting for? Could it be next months Virtual Exhibition on Facebook? I have just finished the painting I was working on for the show.
Or is She looking at Eoin's new baby (car)? Which has managed to sneek into the photo, while my van is relegated to on-street parking.
I took Eoin out in his car this afternoon, or should I say he took me (He needs a qualified driver with him until he passes his test) Now instead of being Dad's Taxi, I am Eoin's passenger... whether he needs to get from A to B or not, he needs driving practice.
Dubh is not amused. Dog's are not allowed in Eoin's car so she gets left behind, even though she is the same colour and believes it is tailor made for her.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fishing, Painting, Building and Buying... and Blogging

I have been very busy recently. I've done a little bit of painting, but mainly some more work on the cottage in Sligo. Along with that I have been organising bits and pieces for next month. I have the Interprovincial championships (& Ireland team qualifier) in Killarney this weekend. So I have been tying up a few troutflies.
I hope be going to the opening of the AITO exhibition in Enniscorthy next week, then I travel to Cambridgeshire in England for the International trout fly competition as part of the Irish team.
Because of this my blog has been a little neglected.. sorry. On the other front I have had a couple of sales recently, so I'm a little happier with the costs of all my fishing trips. I bought my son Eoin a car for his birthday this week, it's not new but it is a car I know and it is well looked after with little mileage. I also managed to get a reasonable quote on his first years insurance... well there is no point buying him a car without insuring it for him ;) Students don't have a lot of money to spare.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where does time go?

I can't believe it's two weeks since I last posted!
All I have managed to do is go up to our cottage in Co. Sligo. The lawn is unmown there.... and will be for a long time.
Although the grass has grown well in our meadow out front there was little water in the stream, until our last night when we had Lightening and thunder storms with very heavy downpours all night.
The following morning the stream was in full flood, and the ground was very wet so we cut our trip short and came home a day early.
I took a trip to Wexford to collect some of my art from the Art in the open exhibition . One of the paintings travelling on to the Public Library in Enniscorthy for a further show of some of the Enniscorthy paintings from the festival, which runs until mid-September.
I am now moving into fishing mode, with a little over a month before I set off for the International fly-fishing competition in England. I have a lot of bits and pieces to organise before then.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Here are the last two studies from the plein air paint-outs as part of the Art in the Open festival. The top painting is a study of an old semi ruined bell tower beside the bridge over the river Slaney in Bunclody. It is oil on panel and twelve inches by ten. I liked the half-hidden tree-house immediately behind the bell-tower. A number of passers-by seemed to be unaware of it nestling in the tree, until it was pointed out to them.
The second work is of what I took to be a Gardeners Cottage beside Newtownbarry house, just over the bridge from Bunclody. I painted this in the afternoon, and when finished took a walk around and down into the sunken garden. The garden is beautiful, and I'll upload some photographs of it later. I didn't have enough time to do a painting there, but I'll probably make another trip to the house again.
The festival is now over. I enjoyed participating and would recommend the festival to anyone thinking of taking part next year, and I'll probably be there again.
Now I'll have to get back to the studio and work on some re-working.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wexford plein air festival

I am just back from the exhibition opening in Greenacres Gallery in Wexford town.
I enjoyed painting plein air down in the not so sunny south east.
Here are a few of my plein air paintings from this week.

This is me, standing beside an early morning view up the river from Wexford bridge.
A painting of the bridge over the Slaney river in Enniscorthy.
I liked the abstract shape of this view. As can be seen from the palette, the day was quite grey and dull again.
My next painting is of the garden conservatory in the Riverview hotel in Wexford town, and although looking quite bright colour-wise, I was inside painting because of heavy rain outside.
Speaking of the Riverview Hotel, (apart from the fact that they allowed me inside with wet oil-paints on a busy Sunday) I was pleasantly surprised at the level of service and general cheerfullness of the staff there. It is a rare event to find such good old fashioned "family-run" style establishments now. Most hotels and restaurants seem only interested in taking your money, and not that you are having a good experience while there.
The final image is of a small knife painting I did of Poulaphouca reservoir, Blessington Co. Wicklow while painting with Don Maier last week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Plein air painting...

I have been out painting with Don Maier and his wife Suzie this week. Visiting Sligo on the north-west coast, the sea south of Dublin and spending time in Wicklow. I did a couple of knife paintings and one with brush as a warm-up to the Plein air painting festival in Wexford this weekend.

Don has travelled over from Atlanta, Georgia to take part. Many plein air artists know him from his Plein air artist group online there is also an online group out there for Irish Plein air artists . These sites also give information for those wishing to mpaint out as part of a group. Now, I'm off to do a little bit of studio rework on some of my plein air studies...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am in the middle of sorting paintings to hang tomorrow, prior to my Studio Sale in Rathfarnham at the weekend. Today I am clearing out other stuff, and I'll hang the work in the gallery tomorrow. The sale is to help raise some funds towards defraying the costs of representing Ireland on Grafham Water in September.
I will recieve visitors from the US then on Wednesday, prior to the plein air festival in wexford, so I am busy at the moment. I built a new shed to take all the extra bits and peices I can no longer fit in my new van, and some of the rubbish that had found it's way into my studio for storage. Hence the big clearout...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rambling, rather than working...

I am still very busy with non-art work, but with one week to go to my studio sale (sat 16th @ Village framing in Rathfarnham) I need to get everything ready for moving. I want to pull a few more prints too, just so I have a few lower priced items available. Don't forget offers are accepted for any work up on my website this week... The studio sale is intended to raise some funds towards my International fishing duties as much as to empty some excess work from my studio. Representing the country proves quite expensive due to a serious lack of support from the national sporting bodies as anglers don't have official coaching staff, with a recognised coaching qualification... ... how do you manage to do that! At our level the main areas to coach such as casting techniques and reading water are automatic. A lot of our (well mine anyway) success is due to the un-explainable, much less the un-teachable, a sort of sixth sense, a combination of thinking like a fish and observation, and an ability to spot small almost imperceptible movement below the water and in the wave patterns. Not so much the fish I catch, but seeing how many I am getting to look at my flies but not catching that tells me I need to alter something. Again the something to alter is usually instinct, or if not, then a process of elimination, starting with what I think is the most likely problem. No coach can do the thinking for me.
Rant over.... I have an American Artist and his wife coming to visit later in the month, we will be taking part in Art in the open, in Wexford at the end of the month. This will be a chance for me to do some plein air work, (or should I say push me to do some) before my trip to Starry Night in New Mexico next spring.
..... I do seem to do a lot of travelling for an impoverished artist... ...imagine how much I'd do if I won the Lotto..

Monday, June 27, 2011

I am too busy to paint at the moment. There is an unending amount of little jobs to get done. Angling club duties, the cottage in sligo, and at home, moving an over-full garden shed, building a new base for another secure metal garden shed to store excess items overflowing from the original shed. Plus tools and other items squeezed temporarily into my studio. Plus all the fishing gear that cannot live in my new smaller van.

What happens to time? It jumps up and bites you, there is never enough to keep up with all the little jobs.. ...never mind the big ones!! I am enjoying the physical labour all the same. I was unable to do it for so long it is great to be a ble for it now. Sadly I'm years behind on it all. :D

Friday, June 24, 2011

Time flies...
I am not painting, nor am I making lino-cuts.. Instead I have been busy working around our cottage in sligo. The vegetation grows so fast when it is not cut back regularly. We have placed a caravan beside the cottage so we have somewhere to stay while working on the cottage itself. It has not been worked on for a few years, and it will take a while to make it habitable. It will need new windows and doors to start off with, then I'll need to dryline it and insulate the roof.
All this plus plumbing and wiring....

In the meantime there is the fishing and my painting to do. Sadly the painting is missing out, but the break will do me good as I will be doing a lot of plein air work next month and I will be nice and fresh starting off. I am looking forward to taking part in the plein air festival in Wexford at the end of July. Making up for lost time..

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An interesting concept..

I have just signed up for the sketchbook project which seems a very interesting concept. I don't tend to use my sketchbooks enough, preferring to just use paint plein air instead so this will mean I will actually have to do more sketching. This is never a bad thing, although in truth I have been doing more sketches recently during the planning stage while working on lino cuts.
I will try to show a few of my sketches in the blog when my book comes, and I can use it as a training implement for when I travel to new mexico next spring for my residency as I will want to do some sketches along with my plein air work.

I will be travelling to Wexford at the end of July for the plein air festival there over thebank-holiday weekend. The art in the open weekend promises to be a fun event, sadly I wasn't able to make it last year. Meanwhile I'm off back to my studio... I can't spend all day online..

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A pleasant walk in the park.

I'm just back from a late evening walk with Dubh (the dog) here in a Dublin city park. I watched a few bats flying overhead, rabbits on the grass, a fox trotting along happily, and two badgers ambling along quite noisily. All this within the city, surrounded by busy roads and housing estates. Sometimes city living offers more chances to see wildlife than living in the countryside. However out fishing in the countryside yesterday, I also saw a Harrier flying across part of the lake, I couldn't be sure if it was a Marsh harrier or a hen harrier but it looked like a marsh harrier in that it seemed to be a dark brown underneath.
It is nice to see uncommon birds and animals occasionally, it makes life interesting and keeps my periferal vision sharp. I can recognise most bird sillouettes instantly, and if I can't it also draws my attention to it in detail, probably an effect of my childhood constantly watching wildlife. This ability to register an image quickly also helps with my art, it allows me to see the characteristic shapes and stance of many things and to capture these salient points quickly without getting lost in details. I can then look at the details at a more leisurely pace, secure in the knowledge that the basic bones are already there in proportion and context.
There is always a danger that we as artists don't see the wood for the trees. Or put too much effort into the detail and forget about the emotion or impact of a subject.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I have entered the Etsy marketplace with my linocut prints.

I have opened a shop at selling some of my linocut prints I have listed three of them at the moment and I'm looking forward to see how they are received as I have not had any for sale up until now. I have kept them quite reasonable and they will be an ideal starter for collectors of contemporary art.
If these go well I may list a few more next month.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Van upgrade, a new toy.

I bought a new van today. Well new to me, it is a 2007 model citroen berlingo. It is quite a bit smaller than my present mitsubishi L300, but I don't need such a big van anyway and the Berlingo will be a lot more economic to run. The van is white in colour, so I have become a "White van man".
When the van is ready for collection (it is getting re-registered and a roadworthiness certificate issued) I won't know myself, it comes with a CD player, electric windows & mirrors and other mod cons, none of which are in my 17 year old Mitsubishi. The only forseeable problem is that I think Dubh (the dog) is going to be a little annoyed at the loss of the middle seat in the three seater L300 when I go fishing with Noel... although she will probably just insist on sitting on him instead.
I have finished working on the trout lino-cut, and now I am ready to impress a few prints but I need to pick up some paper from the art-supply store tomorrow. KM Evans are having a 25% off sale on canvases so I have been holding off going in until the sale-day (tomorrow).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A work in progress, lino-cut proof print

I have cut and proofed my trout design lino cut print. Perseverance pays off, I am almost happy with this now. It needs a little tidying up and some hard edges softened but not all as I want the energy and movement of some of the edges left.

I will now experiment by scratching the paper to see where and what I remove from the block before cutting. At this stage it is like an old woodwork teacher used to say at school.. measure twice and cut once, you can't put it back.

The image is about seven inches by four, the block was originally 8 by 5.

Friday, May 20, 2011

preparing for further works

I have been doing a few work-up drawings and studies, in preparation for a new lino-cut. I intend to do a block print of a trout, but I am finding it difficult to decide on the size of the block. I wanted to do it quite small, but it is quite hard to create a work small enough that I am fully happy with. I will perservere for a while longer, and see what comes of it.
I need to get more print-work supplies next week, and I want to get some papers to experiment with. I am not overly experienced in how different papers work with ink impressions and I will learn quite a lot from a few test prints with differing surfaces.

I also want to do some more research on the indigenous art of New Mexico before my trip next April I am interested in exploring how the landscape has influenced their art through the ages. My own art in New Mexico will probably be influenced by my knowledge of the history, or my lack of knowledge.. and six weeks is a short time to create work unless I have already done much of my homework first.

Monday, May 9, 2011

An interesting result, and two more fish.

I was in the studio doing a quick sketch of a Lough Sheelin trout in preperation for a possible painting. I used a piece of canvas I hadn't stretched, and with a soft pencil did a quick outline drawing and shaded it to a certain extent.

I was distracted doing something else and returned to the work later which caused me to take a longer look at the sketch than I would when working on it. The result was a quick wash of thinned oil paint, a few marks with a coloured pencil on the fins and gill plate. What started out as a quick sketch has become a very interesting artwork.

I have also finished the lino cutting for the previously posted print, and I have a quick hand pressed impression from the blocks. The image here is a bit poorly imprinted and mis-aligned but it is only intended to give an idea as to what the print will look like.
I want to do some Gyotaku fish printing as part of my current work. I need to obtain some fresh fish to do this though, and I really want to get some small sea-bream to experiment with.
An artist friend Molly Hill introduced me to the process of Gyotaku last year, but I'm still getting around to trying it. You should visit Molly's website, a few fish get into her wonderful art too.
I have a firm date for my studio sale, July 16th at Village Framing, Lower Dodder road Rathfarnham. Put it into your diary.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Health risks in the studio...and we let kids play with printing..

Working as an Artist can be a dangerous job. Last night while working on a Lino-cut, while not in the whole of my health and at the peak of concentration, I stabbed myself in my little finger with a lino cut gouge. These gouges are very sharp, and little pinkies bleed an awful lot!
It often escapes notice how dangerous our activities can be until we make silly mistakes. Print-making is quite a dangerous activity, between stabbings, cuts, crush injuries when using presses and then there is the ventilation issues with some inks and glues. Sharp saws in operation when cutting timber blocks, many of which are small in size so hands are close to the saw blade.
My little mishap started me thinking on this subject, we as artists need to consider health and safety issues within our studios. We use sharp implements (I have a dozen or so box-cutter blades lying around, I use them for cutting both paper and canvas, sharpening pencils etc.) staple-guns, hammer & nails, saws, guillotines, not to mention the chemicals involved in our paints and other mediums. Dirty paint rags, scrap paper and old thinners/cleaners stored for disposal, all can be a catalyst for fire or fumes.
Health warnings over... I bet you didn't realise being an artist was such a dangerous occupation. And I didn't mention Bulls in fields when painting plein-air...
Back now to the cause of my discomfort, I was continuing work on this little block of lino with a pencil impression on the paper in my sketchbook.
It is another sea-bream work, which I am experimenting with. I will finish the block-cutting off later today, and tomorrow I will start doing a test print.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of studio doors and other animals...

There is a reason I have a separate studio, unfortunately the dog thinks it should be open to her whenever she wishes to visit. The fact that it is usually open to her is beside the point.
I have had a stomach bug today, and decided eventually to give in to it and go up to bed. Later on the dog found me missing and decided I must be in the studio, as she knew I had not gone out the front door.
A while later Christine realised the dog was missing, she called to no avail. Getting worried she eventually spotted her lying down very dejectedly outside the studio door, probably wondering why I wouldn't let her in. (She usually groans and wimpers outside the door until I stop work to let her in when the studio door is closed)
Much calling and cadjoling would not persuade her to leave her vigil, and eventually I had to get up from my sick-bed and call to her from the house. The immediate response to this was a dejected looking spaniel trotting back into the kitchen with one of those where have you been? looks.
As a side issue, the royal WE, (Dubh the dog) have a sore front paw and a decided limp today, just to make me feel more guilty. I ignored the scornful looks and retired back upstairs to bed. Dubh decided to hobble up after me, and settled down where she could keep an eye on me lest she miss anything.
A while later the Roast leg of Lamb came out of the oven downstairs in the Kitchen, the aromas filtering upstairs... creating consternation! The royal WE could not get back downstairs with the sore front paw... You guessed it, I had to leave my sick-bed again to carry her down. I have now given up on the idea of resting in bed, hence my posting on the blog.. and Dubh is contentedly snoring in the corner having had a few tasty morsels of Roast Lamb. Which incidently I can't face. :(
Dubh, with that "WE are not amused" face..

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More success with Ex Libris prints.

The month has almost gone. Eoin is back from his tour of foreign parts (US, Asia, Australia, New Zealand) on Friday. I have spent the last week organising the house, with Christine wanting everything fresh and clean for the homecoming. The upshot is I have still not started work...
I have a Portugeese collector of Ex-Libris wanting some prints before July. The collector wants to include some images and my bio in a book he is publishing on Contemporary Ex Libris artists. It will be a limited edition hardback (200 copies) with two for each of the two dozen artists involved, so there is no payment for this, mind you, usually when you are contacted about inclusion in books on contemporary art they are expecting you to pay for the privelege.

I am looking forward to getting stuck into some work in the studio at the moment, but I just can't find the time. I am busy with everything else going on, and I've a couple of big Angling competitions coming up next month including a fish-off (24 anglers) for four places on next years International team, and the provincial championship (which is a qualifier for the competition to provide another 10 places on the team). In the meantime I will be having a studio sale sometime in June/July as a fund-raiser towards the costs of this years International Competition in England in September. I need to create some space in my studio anyway, and I have a lot of older work in my studio that needs a new home. So if anyone is interested in something from my website , I am open to offers on much of what is on display there as many of these will be included. It will mean I have to update my website too but it is the push I need to do that! I've been threatening to do it for over 12 months!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I give up!!! I don't think I'll get any work done at all this month.... painting that is. I've been busy doing other things all week again, and I have at least a couple of days working on other things this week too.
Life can get in the way of painting even when you are a "full-time" artist. At this rate I'll be in Starry Night in New Mexico before I start a new series of paintings.. and that is 12 months away!! I am going to have to just lock myself away in my studio for a week. I may get the work flowing that way....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring has arrived, with it's distractions.

Another week gone in a flash! I haven't been particularly productive, After a good start, the neglected garden and other little jobs that need doing got in the way of painting. I have a few canvases stretched and ready to go though. Hopefully next week will be more productive than this last one.

The big problem with spring is the grass starts growing and needs mowing... another job for the forseeable future.

I was determined to start some new work this week, but the fine weather is making it difficult for a procrastinator! I spent this afternoon sitting beside the pond in the sunshine, tying a few buzzer nymphs for fishing. Killing two birds with one stone as it were. It is nice to have warm sunshine again, it was reminiscent of the Cote D'Azur. It helps the varnish to dry on the buzzers too, as they need about eight thin coats of varnish to make them heavy and durable enough to be effective.

So as you can gather painting lost out to a combination of sunbathing and fly-tying this afternoon, with Kris Kristofferson in the background as a counterpoint to the sound of running water falling into the pond, where the fish are happily feeding upon any of the tadpoles that are daft enough to leave the center of the weed-beds. Last years fry are quite big now too, big enough to feed quite happily on the unfortunate tadpoles...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm back from the South of France. In truth all plans went out the window when we got there. With bright blue skies and temperatures in the low to mid twenties we spent most of the time either walking or sunning ourselves at the beachside cafes. Wine, espressos and warm sunshine with the gentle music of the sea to accompany them. We did visit Cannes, and Menton but the rest of the time we spent doing much of nothing and practicing my pigeon french with waiters. It is a sad fact that their english is usually far better than my french... but I do try!

I did do some painting, here I am with my morning coffee on the apartment patio painting the tree in front of me.... also photographed by Christine...

Yesterday I went into the studio and finally did a clearout. I then got stuck in and painted for a few hours, the sketching I did while away got the juices flowing. Either that or the sunshine recharged the batteries.

Either way I am raring to go and get to work.

see ya!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm on my travels again....

I am busy for the next couple of weeks, I need to send in a completed application for funding by March 31st. This doesn't sound too bad, but I'm away in the south of France for a week! I am applying for funding towards my trip to Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico next April.

I am organising a studio sale of older works in June or July, this will be held in a local gallery over one weekend. It will allow me to reduce the number of older works in the studio, and it will allow some of my art collectors to obtain works with an earlier slant. My work has evolved over the last decade. It became quite dark for a while, and these works in particular are not likely to be seen again. I have a few very realistic still lifes too which are unlikely to be repeated as I now use my still life studies for more expressionist work.
There are one or two very large works I will have on sale also, I tend to work smaller now since moving to my current studio. I am going to use this studio sale to fund my International Competition duties in September, and hopefully also go a long way to funding my New Mexico trip too. When I return from the French Riviera I will have to go into organisation mode for this as I need to firm the date and get invites/postcards printed for mailing out. I will be taking some watercolours and paper with me to France, but I don't know how much painting I'll get done this trip as my main reason is to visit the art centre of St Paul de Vence and the Chagall museum in Nice (Biblical works). If we have time I'd like to visit Le Cannet again this year.
I am glad to say that they will open a Bonnard museum later this year in Le Cannet. I will just have to make do with the Renoir Museum in Cagnes sur Mer this trip if we have the time. So much to do- so little time to do it- We are determined to get to the Friday Market in Ventimigilia across the Italian border this trip. But plans are made to be flexible in our case... we may find something more interesting sidetracks us again. It's always nice to leave a reason to return. :D

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pancakes and Parlaying.

Yesterday we had another Tallaght arts forum get-together. I provided pancakes in honour of shrove Tuesday... yes I slaved over a hot frying pan for an hour :D. We had another enjoyable and varied discussion bouncing ideas around. The artist's forum is a great bonus to individual artists in the South Dublin area, giving a monthly opportunity to talk with other artists about work, work practice, and other relevant ideas. It also allows us to meet and get to know each other, ideal for forming liasons for collaborative works. The artists come from all backgrounds, multi-disciplines, some arts degree educated, some self taught, in other words a wide variety of artists and those employed within the arts.

The venue is supplied by Rua Red, (Tallaght arts center) and this month three of the Artists with studio spaces in the center opened their studios to the forum prior to the meeting. Many of us hadn't seen the spaces prior to this. One of the difficulties working as a Visual artist is that most of the time I work alone, in isolation from others. The forum gives me, like others, an opportunity to interact with other artists which allows me to discuss ideas and problems that may come up in normal working environments.

Now I need to start preparing applications, both for my Starry night retreat trip in New Mexico, and my fishing duties in the UK in september

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Mexico and Cambridgeshire....

I have just sent off my "official" application to Starry night retreat in New Mexico to confirm my residency for next year. I am looking forward to it, but I will have to start working on funding applications shortly. It is going to be a busy year this year, I need to try to raise some sponsorship towards my International team fly fishing duties this year too. (I have set the date for the residency as April 2012, just in case I hold my team place for the spring International, in March ;) though the Autumn competition in September again would suit me better)
I hope to get organised soon... ... for some reason I seem to be at sixes and sevens at the moment. Too many irons in the fire I think.
I will hopefully be back to general chaos shortly, that I can handle. :D

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20th!!!

Where has the time gone? !Shock and Horror! It's almost a month since I posted on my blog.
I have been busy with angling club AGMs, both attending and organising, add to that some re-decorating of the house and I have been rather busy.
On the art front, Starry Night Retreat in Truth or Consequences in New Mexico have offered me a residency. I am hoping to go next spring, after my International Angling duties in the Autumn.
I am looking forward to going to New Mexico, the landscape in the State looks ideal for me. Hot dusty red earths in a very interesting landscape. I am just waiting confirmation on the availability of my chosen dates now, and then I will have to start seeking travel grants towards the cost of travelling. Flights to New Mexico are quite expensive, alongside all the other costs.
I think I can produce some interesting work from the area, I am hoping to go for six weeks which will allow me to produce about two dozen plein air works as a basis for finished pieces and maybe one or two further finished works on site and in the studio provided by Starry night as part of the residencies.

More on this later, in the meantime I need to get back to sanding and filling walls before stripping wallpaper from the next room on the agenda... This really isn't the kinda painting I like doing, but it needs doing before the fishing season starts. ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Turner at the National Gallery

I visited the Joseph W.M. Turner exhibition in the National Gallery. Luckily I had taken my new reading glasses so I could examine the works.. Needing reading glasses still feels wierd, I have had them less than a week and I'm still coming to terms with needing to put them on while reading or looking at things closely. I have already started hanging them halfway down my nose and looking over the top of them and reading when looking downwards. I'm like an old fogey :D

Meanwhile back at my studio, it is in dire need of a spring clean... I nearly need to play hop-scotch in between the boxes bags and other bits over the floor going from one end to the other. I need to re-stack some paintings too. I am in a new broom mood though, I am going to take some of the works and dispose of them to reduce clutter. I am also considering a studio sale to sell off a number of others, I really don't have the space to store all I have, and many are too old to exhibit in a Gallery. I may hire somewhere to have a sale early in the spring, and sell off a few before updating my website as a lot of the works on it will be included in the clearout. More on this later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My new cards...

I recieved my new business cards and some postcards today. They are double-sided glossy cards from vistaprint, and were due in December but they got lost somewhere in the ether.. Vistaprint had no problem resending them to me though, which is nice customer service. I'm not sure if the glossy double-side business cards will be any more effective than my last ones but they do look nice.
The print job on the back side is a little dark but the quality of the cards is excellent for the price.
The colour balance on the postcards and the front of the business cards is perfect.

Enought pre-varicating though, I must get back to finishing off an exhibition proposal... that is after all why I switched the computer on..
January can get very busy, particularly if you miss the first half through laziness.. ;)