Sunday, December 16, 2012

Water is Interesting....

Christmas is but a week away, and thankfully I have been very busy since my last post.  I have more work to complete next week so I'm not relaxing yet, but I am looking forward to Christmas.
I don't have any images of a Christmas nature to share, but that's not surprising, I got Christmas cards printed with my own work earlier in the year.  Great, I thought, I'll send them this year, it's ages since I did my own...       ...but do you think I can find where I put them?  No chance!  I'll probably come across them in January.   I've had to go out and buy cards to send.

I used  this image on the cards I had printed, so to all who recieve standard shop bought cards... this is what the cards should look like...  I painted this way back in September 2010 , it's not unlike the work I have been doing recently, but that is not particularly unusual since 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, December 5, 2012

Work is seldom finished in one sitting.

I have reworked the 3rd Derrynane painting from my post of October 6th , well at least the green area in the foreground.  
I have cooled the greens down considerably as you will see.  This has helped the foreground sit more solidly and given a stronger base to the work.  This particular painting has been niggling at me for a number of weeks so I eventually gave in and did the rework last week, and added detailing on the grass today over the dry base colours.  It just goes to show, it can take more time examining a work than actually painting it to get to where we want it to eventually go.  Or maybe I'm just slower getting there than most artists are.  Apart from this I have been working on a smaller piece, a view from Glendalough.  Sadly I am not at all happy with the results, it is cold and dull.  Just like the weather.
Later this evening I have to deliver a few paintings to Clontarf for an annual exhibition I take part in, so this post will be a little shorter than I intended, but if I don't post today it could be another week before I do at all.  Until then keep warm, and dream of summer seashores.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter dark, and short days...

The month has nearly gone...   I have been busy this month, trying to work on a few new paintings, but I'm not happy with them at the moment.  I have sorted a few pieces out for an upcoming show next week, but I need a few more fresh works as I'm hoping to sell a couple coming up to Christmas.
The weather has turned cold, and the days are short.   It seems the day has half gone by the time the heater warms up my studio.  Even with good artificial lighting I don't like working when the natural light has gone, particularly when working on landscape paintings.  I used to switch to still life work in the winter months to allow for this, but in recent years I haven't wanted to paint any studio sets, apart from my dalliance into fish last year.
At this rate though I may just decide to paint a few more fish before the spring.  With the current temperatures I won't even need to keep them in the 'fridge while I am working... speaking of which, I have a few nice herring in the freezer.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

End of Summer (reprise)

Winter is upon us.  With the evenings drawing in, (It was almost dusk at 4.30pm this evening) I feel that it is going to be a long winter this year.  The weather has been cold for the last week, though thankfully we haven't had the wind and rain the east coast of the US got, and I am thinking it has been ages since I was warming myself in sunshine.  Can it only be a couple of weeks since I was here?
I invested in some Ski-wear yesterday, this will keep me warm when I am out and about.  Both fishing and painting.  It must be old age creeping up on me, but I'm feeling the cold these days.  I need to move a heater into the studio again, up until now the spot lights have been keeping it warm enough, but temperatures are dropping.   
At this stage most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, and they are becoming their stark winter skeletons.  They are interesting in a landscape even this way though, and can convey a sense of atmosphere in other works such as this autumn work from 2010.
This particular tree, a willow, which was in a neighbours garden has now gone, falling victim to a chainsaw, due to many dead boughs.  Now all I can see from my studio are sycamore and ash trees.  They don't have the same pictoral impact.  My own mature silver birch sits to the side of my studio and all bar the lower trunk and branches is hidden from my studio window.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The Fourth ExLibris Biennale is opening in Pancevo, Serbia this week.  If you remember my post of March 30th I showed you a preview of my entry, a reduction linocut print.   Sadly I won't get to see it hanging in the exhibition, there are no direct flights to Serbia from Ireland, which makes it almost impossible to take a quick trip. 
This exhibition and competition always reminds me of my friends in Serbia, I know they will be there at the opening.  It would be great to be able to join them for a drink, but sometime soon we may get together again, it seems a long time since we met, but in reality it is only five years since we were together in Monastir, Tunisia at the ABAM art festival. 
I may just raise a glass of wine next Wednesday, and drink a toast, after all, it's only two and a half thousand Kilometers away...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The value of a sketchbook.

Here is one of my five minute studies done in Nice while enjoying some vino at the beach restaurant.  A pencil and watercolour wash over some quick pencil drawings of sailing catamarans.  Underneath is a quick watercolour impression of two pigeons waiting for crumbs on the beach.  It's not quite a work of art, but an ideal reminder/memory while reinforcing the anomaly of the sails catching the wind to drive the boats, yet leaving the deck chairs anchored on the beach.  (even though all the beach umbrellas/sunshades had been removed after one or two decided to take flight.)
Simple sketches can say a lot, a bit like taking shorthand notes as an aid to memory.  The combination of the three elements on this page recall the strong wind, (pigeons reluctant to fly around, the lack of umbrellas, and the heeling catamarans) all are now committed to memory and filed away until the time when I wish to emphasise wind in a painting, upon which I will slip this and other sketches out of my collection to help create an image that will convey the required impression. 
This is where these simple sketches, or other simple plein air studies come into their own.  You may get a more detailed rendering of the subjects from a photograph, but you do not get the same memories or hints about the actual reality of the day, how you felt, whether the day was fresh or just humid or cold or even balmy.  These significant details become apparent in an artist's sketch book, not their photo albums.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

 Yes, I'm back from my travels again.  Nice was as beautiful as ever, with it's warmth and changing light throughout the day.
The temperatures were up into the 20's (centigrade) and even the wind was warm, if a little strong.  The sail boats were enjoying the breeze though.

The beachfront along the Promenade des Anglais was much quieter, reflecting the end of the tourist season.  The vacuum was filled by the fishermen, now fishing where sunbathers and swimmers were to be seen earlier in the year.
 It was nice to see the mounted police officers dismount and clean up the manure from their mounts, with a shovel they carry for that purpose. 

I spent a pleasant afternoon watching the catamarans racing in the bay of angels, often looking like star-trek warbirds as they heeled over running across the wind.  A definition of pure indulgence must be sitting in  a seafront restaurant eating beautiful food in the sunshine while graceful catamarans speed over the sun-dappled sea in front of you.
Alas, now it's back to work and the grey dark of an irish winter.... least until March.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Packing for the trip...

I'm in the middle of packing my little haversack for our trip to the Cote D'Azur.  It has reached the stage where I seem to have more than enough room to add lots of stuff I don't need for the trip.  Economy packing is a habit once developed is automatic.  I hear others complaining about Ryanair's baggage limits, yet I find I don't need to carry half the volume of baggage that would fit into the 'box'.
As it is I'm about to add my watercolour painting gear into a half empty bag that already contains more clothes than I need for the week. 
I'm glad to see the temperatures are forecast to be in the low 20's (centigrade), so no winter woolies needed. 

I'll leave you with a taste of Nice from our trip in March, and I'll post some more when I get back. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another blue period...

I have been painting some works based on my plien air paintings from Derrynane in Kerry.  I will post them here before my trip to Nice next week.  It seems so long since I was there in March, and our Paris/Giverny trip last month!  Back to the paintings though, rather than my gallivanting, they have turned out rather blue.  It's not surprising as they are three seascapes, with mostly sea on the canvas.
The three images are a little bright, but the photography was done under less than ideal conditions.  However if I didn't take them this morning, I wouldn't have any images to upload to this post, and it's unlikely I'll get time before I go.
I think the three of them need a little more work, particularly the foreground on the third image, though where the green in the photo came from, I don't know!  If it photographs that green, it definitely needs another look on the canvas, although it doesn't look too bad in the first image.  I must take the next photos with my fuji camera rather than the Nikon, it may be that the polarising lens is altering the colours, and the bright sunlight wasn't helping.
As for the blue, looking back at my images from my Plein air trip... the Kerry ocean was very blue in the sunshine. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time to start painting.

Well, the fishing is over, the important competitions anyway.  Now I can get back to work as such.
I have somewhat cleaned the studio, which was rather cluttered with bits and pieces from working on small bits and pieces.  Now I feel I can get stuck in to some proper painting, for the next two weeks at least, before we slip across to the Cote D'Azur in mid October.
I am hopeful that it may be a bit brighter tomorrow, the last two days have been dark and grey with constant rain.  Weather not condusive to painting bright cheerful canvases, but I was away on the road anyway.  I have been in Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, back to Dublin and then off to Galway, Navan and Drogheda in the last two days.  A round trip of about 1,000 km. over the two days, most of it in rain and heavy traffic.

Tomorrow I am going to paint, sit, ponder and paint some more..  hopefully a productive and restful day.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back from Monet's world, and into my own...

 Here are some of the promised Photographs from Giverny.  The gardens are beautiful, if a little crowded for any real atmosphere.
I did a couple of watercolour sketches while I was there, just for the sake of doing it as much as anything else.
We wandered through the house (surprisingly spacious) and studio (not as big as I expected) also and explored Monet's collection of Japanese prints which are on display on the walls where hed left them.

We visited the Orangerie the following day to see the Waterlilly paintings in situ (as well as the other art on view downstairs) .A pleasing experience enhanced by the visit to the gardens. 

the watergarden
the main avenue

the river Ru

the sketching artist

view to the Japanese bridge

 the lily pond from beside the bridge

I'm busy fishing for the next two weeks, but I'm going to try to get started on some work.   Monet's waterlillies have encouraged me to go large again.  looking around at the expansive canvases reminded me why I love to paint big canvases.  I think the recent smaller work may have stifled my creativity somewhat, but it's OK.  I'm cured.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Where has the month gone???

It is the end of the month already.
I haven't had a moment to myself this month, and I've done little art-wise.  Next week I'm off  to Paris, and on to Giverney and Monet's Garden.  I'm looking forward to it.  Later in the month I've a couple of big angling competitions which will mean weekends away (three consecutive weekends).  Then we are off to the Cote D'Azur in October for another break and a visit to Bonnards museum in Le Cannet (hopefully!).  Either way I'll have some good food and sunshine along with fresh sea air...
We didn't make Le Cannet on our last trip, but we like to leave an excuse for going back to the Cote D'Azur. 

I'll post photos when I return from Giverny.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Opening up new vistas..

I haven't been posting for a while, (as you can see) I have been busy creating a Sligo chainsaw massacre... Having fun felling trees around the cottage and clearing undergrowth such as briars, brambles, old wild roses, umpteen snowberry bushes.  The clearing is nearly finished, and most of the detrius has been cleared away and piled up to dry out so it can be burnt. 
I have a large stack of firewood too, but there are still a few very large trees that need to be felled across the road from the cottage, but that's a job for the future.
In the meantime we now have a view to the side of the cottage, where before we had an inpenetratable jungle.  Plus we'll soon have lots of shillelaghs, I cut some big old blackthorn bushes down from the side too.

I intend to do some painting next week.  I'm doing very little work at the moment, but I will be nice and fresh for the winter and I hope to be very creative when the work in Sligo slows down.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I've been travelling again...

But only as far as Wexford and hook head..  After my recent busy time I felt like a break so we booked a last minute deal and took a few days in the sunny south-east.

Well, in between the showers and thunderstorms it was the sunny south-east!

The day before we set off I was fishing on Lough Owel, and we were treated to a wonderful display of sun and storm clouds...

I also took some photos of very strong rainbows over the lough, but my lens washed the rainbow out of the shots.... ces't la vie..

I am going to try and get some painting done next week, I have time free from Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Woodwork, fishing and very little painting...

I have been busy clearing the trees from around the cottage for the last week.  I'm still a good lumberjack, not one of the eight fell on the cottage..  ...although I did use a rope and pulley system on some of them to make sure they fell the right direction, after all they were only eight or ten feet away from the building itself, and a dozen feet away from the caravan.  (which also escaped unscathed)  I now have enough firewood for quite a while as a bonus, and a much brighter interior in the cottage.

As a result I have been doing very little painting.  I am fishing all this coming weekend, as I have a client booked for my angling guiding service and consequently I'll be away from my studio all this week too.

I was hoping to work on some studio works from my plein air studies from Kerry, but all I have managed was a quick study of the view on my way to a fishing competition at Kilbride in County Wicklow

I don't know if this study will translate into a finished painting though, but I felt less guilty about not working...  I didn't do well in the fishing competition though, I had an off day.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sligo Cottage, our country estate...

Here are the promised photos of the cottage in Sligo, and here are two views from the road (boreen) to the cottage

 and the view across from the cottage over our land, and up onto the mountain.

As you can see it is a verdant wilderness, complete with wildlife such as these noisy neighbours...

Who conveniently fledged the following day, I think they were just waiting for their photo opportunity...

I will be travelling back up there this week, there is still a lot of work to be done around the cottage, with trees and hedges to be cut back, and I'm hoping the weather will be a little kinder this trip as we lost a lot of time because of the rain again.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back to Sligo.

I'm travelling again.  We are about to set off to our "Cottage" in Sligo for another extended weekends work, weather permitting, leaving Dog and Child behind in Dublin.  I will take a few photographs of the cottage this weekend..    ... assuming I remember to do it ;).  Below are two 10 by 8 studies from just up the hill from the cottage over looking three of the loughs visible from the one spot. (Loughs Arrow, Key, Meelagh and skeane)  Three counties are in the view, I am painting in Sligo, looking out over Leitrim and Roscommon as well as part of Sligo itself.  This view is a two minute drive from the cottage.  It is walkable but hill climbing was never really my thing, particularly with an easel paints, boxes of panels and all the other accrutriments Plein air painting requires.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm back from my Plein Air trip to Kerry

Painting at Rath Cove, Kerry.

The finished painting

I am now back from Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry.  We stayed at Derrynane Hotel which is right on the shoreline overlooking Kenmare Bay on the Ring of Kerry.
As you can see from the photos we had some marvelous weather, although we did have one morning's rain.  When it rains you cannot see the other side of the bay, in fact it is hard enought to see the other side of the cove! 
We visited a number of areas to paint around the peninsula from Sneem to Kilorglin.  We also took a short break at the upper Lake, Killarney, near ladies view on the way down where I did a little painting to break the journey. 

Kerry is a beautiful place in the sunshine.  When the rain comes in from the Atlantic though it can get very dull and miserable.  Thankfully we had ideal weather for this trip, little wind and lots of sunshine which makes plein air painting much easier.
I am now in the process of planning one or two larger works from my studies...
when it stops raining and I can get into my studio without splashing through water that shouldn't be on the lawn that is... we have heavy rains in Dublin again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm going for a little trip....

We are off to the Derrynane Hotel at Caherdaniel on the ring of Kerry next week.  I am hopeful that the weather may improve from the torrents of rain we had last week, and are forecast for the next week at least.  I want to do some plein air painting while we are there, if the weather is too bad, I may just have to resort to going fishing!, but I'm not sure Christine will be happy about that choice so maybe not. LOL.

I have a pop-up Gazebo to protect me from showers though if it is not too windy, and I can always just go and do the 'ring'* if all else fails.
* This means driving all the way around the very scenic coastline, in and out along every bay and promontary.

I hope to take a few photographs of it along the way.  In the interim I am travelling up to our cottage in Sligo midweek, hopefully to get a little more work done.  Last weekend I managed to sort out the chimneys, but little else other than some spring cleaning and a little grass cutting due to the appearance of rain, rain, and even more rain..... since last weekend we have had rain, rain and yes, even more rain.
A river we were expecting to have a fishing competition on this weekend actually rose by more than ten feet in two days, which meant we couldn't even find the river in the fields, never mind fish it!  Thankfully we had quite dry weather this weekend, but more rain is forecast, but according to the long range forecast Wednesday and Thursday morning are supposed to be dry so I hope to get a bit of work done to the cottage these two days.  Plans, however are likely to change if the weather does.
This is how the cottage looked  before all the clearing I did last year, though the cottage itself hasn't really changed much.  I'll find a photo of it for the next post
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where did May fly?

Eeek!! May has gone by, without even one post!  Time is flying, but I have been busy, working on a commission, spring cleaning the Dublin garden, tackling the jungle around our cottage in Sligo and don't forget the fishing.  The Mayfly are up on the loughs. ;)

Here is the photo of my work-space and the portrait I painted at the Pop-Up event in my last post.  The event has finished now, after we were asked to extend it for a couple of weeks.
 I am continuing to take a sabattical from painting this week though, We hope to be over at the cottage next weekend doing some more renovation work for a few days.  I was up on the roof yesterday fixing the chimney from the Kitchen Range, I cut a fern root out of the flue that was nearly totally blocking the chimney altogether.  Needless to say, the draught up the chimney has much improved since the blockage has been removed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pop-up at the Square.

I have had a busy weekend with the Artist's forum Art space Pop-up event in the Square shopping centre.  These are the paintings I decided to show, but the easel, table and accrutiments were moved before we opened.  I will upload some of the more recent photographs later in the week, including views of the gallery space when all the Artists' work was installed.  I will have some of my portrait painting that I am doing as part of the event.  One of the other artists is sitting for me, and the public can come in and watch while I paint her sitting in front of some of her own work.
All the workshops and events were thoroughly enjoyed by many participants, and we found a few new members for the forum too.  The Square management have asked us to extend the event for a while longer due to the success of both the event and the exhibition, and the management and staff of the shopping centre have given us all the assistance we needed apart from the wonderful space free of charge  for the event.  The South Dublin County Council Art's office gave us great support with a grant to cover the cost of insuring the event, invites, posters and opening reception and the Mayor kindly opened the event officially.

Friday, April 20, 2012

South Dublin Artist's Forum.

I have been busy recently, and all next week I will be organising myself for the South Dublin Arts Forum free collaborative arts event in the Square Shopping center, Tallaght.  I will be demonstrating painting on Sunday afternoon as part of the event, and I will have work on exhibition for the weekend.  I will also be available to talk about the works and my work practice.  All in all it may be a hectic weekend.
The arts forum is a group of multi-diciplinary artists who meet up monthly to discuss local issues and how they effect us as artists, along with a platform for us to organise collaborative events such as this and increase the awareness of the arts in South Dublin. 
The forum also benefits us as artists in a way that we can meet others with similar problems aqnd needs to discuss issues that affect us.  Most artists work in isolation, unless in group studios and often we don't get to meet other artists or people working elsewhere in the arts, nor do we have social interaction with our peers.  The forum gives us an opportunity to do this, and combined with it's other benefits make it a very worthwhile body.
The Tallaght Arts centre RuaRed kindly give us the use of a room and tea/coffee making facilities for our monthly meetings, and South Dublin County Council's Arts department also give us much needed support, particularly with the costs of running events like the Pop-up art space.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My new lino cut.

I have been busy working on my Lino-cut for the 4th International Biennial Ex Libris. All that is left for me to do is cut the wording, Ex Libris & Communism, which is the subject for this Biennale. After much thought and planning, I decided to change my mind, simply because Communism does work in certain situations, notably in the insect world.
I decided to use Bees as my subject, they are more liked than ants and have a recognizable honeycomb.
As communism success stories, bee hives survive through strength and numbers, an ideal communist state where all work for the hive as a whole, from the queen, the workers, the guards and the nurses.
A Greek Eutopia...
The print is a reduction lino-cut in three colours, now I can finish it off and start in on the oils again.
PS. Nice was very nice, I'll post some pics later...