Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cigarette Smoking Man

I have a few friends who are great photographers, and this is taken from a photo by my friend Pat Barry, who is an old school photographer, in that he does not use computer technology to develop his film and make his prints. With the cigarette almost out of the picture Cigarette Smoking Man was the natural title. One for the fans of the X-files.

Campo Dei Miracoli III

Campo Dei Miracoli III - it was a hot day in the shadow of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, everyone was hogging the shade. The old lady in the foreground realised I was drawing her in my sketchbook and she loved it .....

Aside from the old monastic site that includes the leaning tower and the little church perched on the riverbank, Pisa has very little to recommend it. It's a tourist trap, pure and simple. Yes, they have a regatta every year, and while that would be fun to see, it wouldn't mean you'd want to spend longer in Pisa than necessary. We did a day trip to Pisa by local train from Florence, and it took about 2 hours each way.

It was a very hot day, and people who didn't want to pay the extortionate prices to go into the various monuments clustered in the shade of the buildings. It was kind of funny watching them move slowly in a semi-circle with the shadow of the tower. I spent the hottest 2 hours in the museum that's right beside the leaning tower, literally under the bit that's leaning - so if the tower ever does keel over, the museum is toast.

Carrier of Dreams

Carrier of this Reality. This was one that was started in my Degree year, and I kept working on it afterwards. It didn't really fit in with the ones I eventually hung, so I just brought it home to work on. Over the following year I came across some things that I wanted to add to it, including the 'You say carrier of disease, I say carrier of this reality', a very cryptic saying given to me by the mother of a boy who died of leukaemia. The other quote on this 'you have seen in the big window ....' etc. is from the Irish writer Walter Macken, who I think is possibly the most gifted wordsmith ever to have come from this country. He's a painter with words.
You see nice images, but also, this painting is about what you don't see .... I think .... I cannot really articulate my own thoughts on this one, so am interested in hearing thoughts from others.

In Company of Absence

In Company of Absence I, named for a poem by Irish poet Michael Coady. Part of what was originally intended to be a triptych. For personal reasons this poem was very moving. It's big, 3ft by 4ft, so the original size was very large indeed - 4 ft by 9 ft. I still have the other two parts.

Mirror Maze - with the artist included

The shadow on the girl's back is my hands and the camera. I loved Prague, been there twice, will probably go again. Really nice city, really friendly people.

Fiesole again

Fiesole I, to match Fiesole II.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sailing to Ischia III

Sailing to Ischia III .... and I might do more sometime. This particular painting was sold in Cork city at a charity auction in aid of Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin.

Sailing to Ischia II

On the ferry to the island of Ischia

Sailing to Ischia I

Included in an exhibition in March 2010 in the Mad Art Gallery, 56 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, Ireland.


Graphics by Thinkk Creative Design.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spanish picture

Enjoying the sunshine, something these Spaniards didn't expect to find in Ireland .... Have you ever noticed that when you ask young visitors how they liked being in Ireland, they'd always say something about having to eat a lot of potatoes?

Addition: This paintings is one of six of my little ones that is included in an exhibition in the Mad Art Gallery, 56 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, Ireland, to start on 25 February 2010.

Central Bank: Sisters (Dun na Greine)

The one that caught her eye. This little one was in the Christmas Show at the Access to Arts gallery in Dublin city centre ( Again, the light made me want to paint it.

Central Bank: Diorama (Mirror Maze)

The largest one currently on exhibition in Dublin's Central Bank, this one is from a photo in the Mirror Maze on Petrin Hill, in the beautiful city of Prague. It was the light that made me want to paint it.

5 December 2011: This one is back in my own house again. 

Sitting Among Boys ...

Called Sitting Among Boys, this little one is one of five currently being exhibited in the Central Bank in Dublin. Oil on canvas, 40x40cm.

Also home again now.

Caloptric Chamber

Caloptric Chamber (Mirror Maze), also to be included in Thinkk Creative show, May-June 2008. Large painting, and a bit mad composition-wise. But it works.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Making art

Greetings all. This is my blog for showing my artwork.
I have always loved making drawings and paintings, and REALLY wanted to go to art college when I was 18 and finished with the Irish Leaving Cert. However, that didn't happen; instead I went to UCD and didn't do any drawing or painting while I was there, but still had a pretty good time. But I missed the artwork, I missed making it, and eventually did get back to it. Between getting back to it and actually going to study it properly, 9 years passed during which I did a lot of anatomical studies at some great courses in the Netherlands on a part-time basis, and had some small exhibitions there also.
Then I joined a part-time Post-Leaving Cert course in Newcastle West, County Limerick, Ireland, and out of curiosity went to the Open Day in Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) which is part of Limerick Institute of Technology and currently housed in what was a Magdalen convent, so it's full of ghosts. Anyhow I walked into the place and realised that I wanted to do this, so I applied and went straight into the Painting Department - which meant some serious talking to Bob Baker, the then Head of Painting.It was hard work and a major change of mindset, but I loved it, and I am so glad that I went and did it. I graduated in 2004 and since then have exhibited several times in Ireland, including once in Northern Ireland.My paintings and drawings have travelled, they are now on 3 continents - several are in private collections in Ireland, with one in the Law Society of Ireland's own collection and in Limerick County Council's collection. A few also made their way to the United States, and are in private collections there. And finally, there are some in China, on permanent exhibition in the 411 Galleries in Hangzhou City.
I love stories. My Dad loved to tell stories when we were growing up, and both of my parents fostered a huge interest in literature in all my 4 syblings and myself. I drive my significant other around the twist with speculations about people I don't know at all, and and 2003 he said it's something to do with my very active imagination ... so he suggested that I use this as a resource when making paintings. I thought hey, what a great idea ... and went on from there. But I love going around with my sketchbook and camera, sitting down and watching people interact, and attempting to catch this.
When I go to make an actual painting on canvas, considerations to do with composition, form, emphasis come into play, and I get a little excited by the paint, which is why I much prefer making larger pieces. Sometimes I add bits of text as well, but not too often - this largely depends on what's going through my mind or what I'm reading when I'm at this stage of a work, so it is perhaps a little time-dependant. But the most interesting part for me is how people react to the paintings - they say things like 'Have you met my daughter? You must have, you've painted her' or 'That painting reminds me of something ..' and they'll want to talk about their take on it. Stories generate stories.
This is why I have decided incorporate a story-collecting aspect into my next solo exhibition, which is taking place in the Thinkk Creative Gallery on Cecil Street, Limerick city, from May 30, 2008.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More landscape - here's a seascape

This is oil pastel on paper, it's called The Cliffs at Ballybunion, and it's not very big. Oil pastels are brilliant when drawing outside, and work really well on coloured paper, which is what I've done here. This is from 2001.

Update 5 December 2011: This drawing has been framed and is now on display in the Blueberry Gallery, Ennis Road, Limerick city, Ireland, along with 4 other landscapes of mine. 

Landscapes from a few years back ....

This is the view over the fields from the back of my house in West Limerick. I did this painting on location - en plein air, to use the posh artist phrase, which means 'outside in the open' - in the summer of 2002, and it's oil paint on paper, applied mainly with palette knife. I love where I live. This painting is simply called Ballyneale and is about 90x60 cm.

Updated 5 December 2011: This piece has now been framed and is on display in the Blueberry Gallery, Ennis Road, Limerick city along with 4 other landscape pieces of mine. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Come home at last ....

While in my final year at art college, this was my 'breakthrough' piece, which the college subsequently took for its own collection - a regular thing. However, after a certain number of years, the college has a lot of paintings, so if they can't store them, they'll return them to the artists. And I had been wondering if I could get this one back, so I am pleased that they no longer wanted it ....

Two in a Crowd, 2003, oil on canvas, 120x120cm

Back from the framers part 1! Demeter, Dún na Gréine

It was the light captured in the photo that made me want to explore the way the paint would handle it. This painting was exhibited privately in the Central Bank in Dublin, Ireland.
Demeter, Dún na Gréine, 2007, oil on canvas, 40x40 cm (unframed measurement).

But I'm not happy with it, the child's face on the left is not working, so I'm going to rework it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rendez-vous at the Trevi Fountain

From a photograph taken in Rome in May 2006. It was the woman's dress that made the photograph, it's always some little detail like that .....

The sun was going down, it was getting cool again, and people were starting to think about going somewhere for dinner.

You can't actually go into the fountain anymore .... more's the pity because it looks like it might be nice on a warm day. They say that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome. A nice myth.

Since visiting Rome and seeing all those places, I have read Lustrum and Imperium by Robert Harris, in which various places in Rome are mentioned. Sometimes you kind of wish that time travel was possible when you're someplace like Rome, or Pompeii. It would be really something to go back in time and experience what it was really like living there.

Fiesole II

I've been to Italy a few times now, and love it. This is also small, 40x40cm, and one of a pair based on a series of sketches I took while on a day excursion to the hillside village of Fiesole, near Florence in Tuscany. Dolf and I were enjoying the shade around the Roman Amphitheatre in the village, and happily there were also some young artists on some kind of summer school, and they were busy doing sketches of the surroundings. Now I like doing landscapes, but I like doing people better ....

Fiesole II, 2007, oil on canvas.