Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Shannon Estuary

I'm going to a small local Arts Festival on a town on the Shannon Estuary this evening, and I'm looking forward to it: the Askeaton Arts Festival. They started it up a few years ago, probably under the Small Festivals Scheme that's funded by the Irish Arts Council, I'm not sure.

I've seen dolphins swimming in this estuary, and I've heard of whales in the vicinity also. And the wild birds .... one side is Limerick, the other is Clare, and when I made the drawing for this I was on the Limerick side looking over. I think the best bit of the Clare side is Loop Head, but best experienced if you have no sense of smell because the wild bird guano creates the most horrendous stench .... and the best bit of the Limerick side is Ballybunion, although strictly speaking that's in County Kerry, but it has this amazing cliff walk, and wonderful beach, as well as a world-famous golf course. But the best bit in County Limerick is Carrigogunnel Castle, from which you have a fantastic view down the estuary.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Using text

I also experimented with using text in paintings, but soon realised that you have to be very careful with the type of text you use. This text seems to be completely at odds with the figures, who seem comfortable with each other. The text itself is a quote from my other favourite Irish novelist Marion Keyes, and it is from her novel Rachel's Holiday. (I challenge anyone to refer to her work as merely 'chicklit'. Read them first. A much more accurate description of these is The Thinking Woman's Chicklit.) I think I went for one of Marion Keyes' books because she is absolutely marvellous at capturing 'real' dialogue - when I read her books I feel like I'm talking to a friend - and I wanted 'real' dialogue to tie in with my 'real' social dynamics works. However, sometimes that suggested by the text does not match the attitude of the subjects drawn, all of whom are real people. This painting was a failure in that respect, and I have been asked to remove it from an exhibition because one of the people working at that arts centre had been in an abusive relationship and found it very upsetting to be confronted with this every day.

It's a hard painting to look at, and the implications of what it might suggest are also hard to take. Maybe this is an indication that it's successful on some level, I don't know. I am learning about communication as I go along.

More about drawing.

The joys of modern technology. This was originally a sketch in my sketchbook, which I photocopied onto a sheet of acetate, then used an overhead projector to get it onto a large sheet of paper, A0 size. I love the way that you can do this, and keep the particular qualities of the drawing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crossing the strange area between figurative and abstract

This one still scares me a bit. I remember just doing it very quickly, then stepped back and thought 'I have created .... something.' I walked away from it and down to the college library, and came back to it, and thought again ' .... something'.

It is in fact a painting of a white mask I made with plaster of Paris using a balloon. It's an odd shape, and doesn't sit well on any physical face. But this image is large, about four meet long, that's about a metre and a quarter, and its size makes it .... something.

I tried to transfer it to canvas, but couldn't get the psychic otherworldliness a second time, so I have kept the original acrylic on paper.

One of the things that fascinate me about masks is the notion that you take an inaminate object, put it on your face, and a third entity is created. Another thing you have to ask yourself about a mask is does it hide your true personality, or does it reveal the true you? Or both?

I'm not sure whether this is figurative or abstract, neither, or both - or just some weird no-man's land in between them.

Another one from a few years ago

But this one shows the results of many many hours of study of the human figure. The hill in the background is the hill I see from the back of my house, Knockfierna. I thought it would be fun to explore the notion of the dancers finished with their dance and rubbing their sore feet and shoulders. I have a particular fondness for female models with rather full figures, simply because of the way their shape captures the light on their skin - they're beautiful. This particular painting is now in the Netherlands.

I love Matisse's work, it's beautiful. His original painting La Danse is one of my all-time favourites.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One that's very old indeed ....

I forgot about this one. It's one I did years ago, when I was getting back into painting, not long before I met my other half. It's called The Morrigan, and shows the Goddess in her three aspects. It travelled to the Netherlands with me, and back to Ireland again.

Not for sale.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Standing figure, Kilkee

It was a beautiful sunny day by the sea in Kilkee, and there were thousands there for the athletics and swimming event that was going on. People were spilling out of the pubs and cafes and sitting on walls, and the grass, eating, drinking and just enjoying the wonderful weather.

ADDITION: I  added colour:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

She's a big one ....

This painting is called Truth Universally Acknowledged, and was part of my degree show in 2004. It's big, 7 foot by 4 foot and a half. I have a hell of a time transporting it anywhere. That said, when I did hang it in Dublin, a lot of people seemed to like it. There was one guy who told me that for a week he spent half an hour a day just looking at it, and every day he found something new in it to think about and enjoy. He loved it. But his wife would have killed him if he bought some a big painting. I mean, this thing is HUGE.