Monday, April 13, 2015

John McNamara

I believe it was the late Maya Angelou who said "people will never forget how you made them feel."

I only knew John for a few years, but in that time he became a great friend. I came to appreciate his intelligence, his calm, his love of beauty and fashion, his ability to listen, his wisdom, and his great, great kindness. I also learned to appreciate his particular sense of humour - very dry most of the time, but occasionally very smutty, which initially was not something you'd expect from someone so genteel and cultured. In fact, the first time he revealed that particular aspect of his personality I was driving on the motorway around Limerick and momentarily lost control of the steering wheel, but however.

I'd walk around the city centre with John many times, and we'd go to lunch on Saturdays, and everyone seemed to know him. He seemed to know a lot about many people - but he was discreet. So it came as a huge surprise to me just this weekend, immediately after he left us, to learn that he was even more private than I had assumed. He was friendly to people in general, it was part of him, but he liked his own house, his own space, and his few close friends for whom he loved to cook. Not many others were allowed in.

I know that he loved his work as a bespoke designer. I like to think that it was part of his kindness - he had the ability to make women look and feel beautiful on their special days, and he loved being able to do that. After he wound down his business, he and I and a friend of ours went exploring through Brown Thomas here in Limerick, and we came across a designer I'd never heard of - "very few women can pull this designer's work off, but I think it would really suit you," he told me, and then talked into trying on a very odd garment that closed with a giant pin. I am a hard person to get to try on clothes anyway, but he was very firm ... and he was right. I DID look good in it. "There now," he said "You should buy that. It's 370 Euro now, but it will probably be only about 200 in the sale." This was in 2012, I didn't have the funds for it, but anyway. In the summer of 2014 my niece Emma from the Netherlands came to visit, we all went shopping, and he picked out a lovely jacket for her. Emma was thrilled to meet a fashion expert like John. She is shocked to learn he has passed.

I know he enjoyed his involvement in, for various reasons. It meant he kept in touch with what was happening in the city and the various people involved in those events, and he so enjoyed Richard's company as well, and I think was very helpful to ILoveLimerick in so many ways. John's calm and measured approach to things also helped Richard personally, and in turn Richard brought out John's fun, naughty side, and we could appreciate John's dry and smutty sense of humour I mentioned earlier.

Dolf and I loved to meet up with John and we'd go out for lunch of a Saturday, or I'd call John and we'd go grocery shopping, have coffee, and catch up. He didn't have that many very close friends, I realise now, but those he loved, he loved deeply. I know that he loved and missed his mother Nora very much, and that he was very attached to his brothers and sisters-in-law and their children and grandchildren.

But back to the how John made people feel. He was curious about people, remembered things about them, and liked to tell you if you were looking well. You came away from a brief exchange feeling a little happier, a little more attractive, a little special. That was John's gift. He was kind enough to share his infinite inner beauty with everyone he knew. He was in my life for just a few years, but I know I will miss him for a very long time.

Me and John McNamara, photo courtesy of, photographer Dolf Patijn

Friday, March 6, 2015

Have sold a painting!!!!

So in between turning cartwheels and doing a mad happy dance around the kitchen and over my furniture, I thought I'd let you all know:

Cliffs of Moher: Rummaging has sold.

That's this painting:

I believe the buyer is local. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Book of People

So I am slowly gathering quotes from various sources to put through the book of paintings I want to produce, the working title of which is currently The Book of People. They include memes that resonate, quotes from great writers and thinkers, and a few choice posts made by friends on Facebook. I've also been paying attention to other media, and as a result am curious about an Iranian poet whose words seem to resonate among Iranians at least as much as other writings, if not more; and about the writings of Dante Alghieri, who wrote The Divine Comedy.

Someone loaned me a book that was basically written around the premise that there are only seven stories in the world (Patrick, I want my book on philosophical experiments back, if you're reading this. Contact me please). Yeats wrote about how pissed off he was about political and social developments in Ireland, grieved about great friends he'd lost, and went on and on about Maude Gonne, the woman he loved. I could nearly exchange the names and the countries for any other combination, and you'd get the idea ... but I'd rather celebrate how much writers from different parts of the world have in common.

And not just writers. Frustrated artists are everywhere. Here, we have the freedom to express, but not the funds to bring our expression to full fruition. In some countries, it's illegal to depict a human being - especially one that's celebrated for being a prophet (Clashes of ideology are fine on paper and on a computer screen, but once they hit the streets or even become the reason for attacking or killing others - not good. Not good at all.) so as long as you depict what's officially approved of, you're fine. Some video games are horribly violent and misogynistic, but allowed - yet two adults making love and just adoring each other generally is considered nasty, vulgar, unclean, immoral. Compared to the video games, that's just so fucked up.

But I digress. Back to my point, which is: every artist has to struggle with something, so matter where he or she is from. The struggle is vital. It forces you to go examine things, including your own motivation to create. I prefer to celebrate what humans have in common, not nitpick about the differences. So there are only seven stories in a world of how many billions of people? Guys, there are SEVEN STORIES .... stories we all know. It's a GOOD thing.

Hello, do I have a theme here for the book? I wonder. Quite possibly.

There are also seven ages of man, according to Shakespeare. Hm.

And there are news items. And my oh my, but don't we live in interesting times right now. Hm.

And images like these will be included also:

All drawings from the Palermo Sea front, a great place to sketch people on summer evenings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Landscape shots

One of the reasons why doing landscapes is getting so complicated is because I am drawn to the wonderful lines in the foliage of the wild hedgerows here. They're just mad. They don't follow any particular logic, they are merely plants growing towards light in whatever space they can find. They are tangled, fecund, thorny, and home to birds, insects and various rodents, investigated by cats, rabbits, foxes, dogs, ferrets and pine martens. Now they are slightly bare, but growing buds. In a few weeks there will be leaves, and later will follow blossoms, and eventually fruit. Every single year. Each hedgerow is its own ecosystem.

The fun part is getting those snarly, twisty, wonderful lines on a canvas. But that's for another blog.

One of the things I so enjoy about going out at different times of the day is the light. I have a few dozen of this particular place, in all kinds of light, but this is one of my favourites.

This farm track goes back for about half a mile, and it's very muddy and messy in wet weather, but look at how the light reflects in the puddles ... I'm facing east as I take this photo, and plan on getting some dawn shots, but am not the best at getting out of bed in the morning. Will have to time it well, after rain.

These trees are a couple of kilometres away from my house, and quite high above the little road. Every time I pass them, I want to photograph them .... so I suppose I'll just have to walk past them once a month and get the as they change with the seasons. Twelve shots. Hm. That's a calendar.