Saturday, December 18, 2010

Real snow ..... in County Limerick.

No footprints in the snow other than those of animals and birds, it was too early for humans .... Very pretty, but very inconvenient in a country that doesn't have a lot of experience in dealing with extremes of weather.

And it's getting colder. Brr.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A nude which some might find offensive ...

... but which I found to be a wonderful challenge to draw. Black and white charcoal and coloured paper.

I'm a little annoyed at Google, the other day I mailed them to ask them to remove an ad from my page, because I do not wish to support it - I think that the food advertised is not food but a slow-acting poison, and I refuse to eat something that does not rot down like real organic nutrition.

I wish to stop MacDonalds being advertised on my Blogspot page.

Addition: Heh heh heh - it worked! Only now just Public Service Ads are being shown. 

Am perfectly happy to support other artists, art supply shops, businesses in Ireland (but not fast food or manufacturers of sweets), galleries, museums, etc., Google. 

And if anyone is interested, this drawing I still have in my own collection. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A small celebration .... and a pencil study of hands.

... one hundred different countries have visited this blog!

Over three thousand visitors since I started it, and there are referrals from Facebook and (Thanks Facebook and

To celebrate, I'll add something .... let me see .....

A pencil study of hands. The middle hand is ... well, yeah, I know it looks a bit rude, but I was just focused on drawing the thing, not really thinking about anything else. Makes for a mad dynamic in the picture, I think. And it's a good drawing too - and I never erase a good drawing. Thanks to Limerick Printermakers for organising the life-drawing sessions and getting such great models.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And the show WILL go on ....

Irish people are reeling at the thought of having to take an IMF handout, and cuts in pay and all that, which is understandable, and then there are the Drama Queens both in and out of government who are working themselves into all kinds of unnecessary frenzies ....

This too shall pass, people. And life will go on.

Generally I neither ask for nor receive funding from government sources, so I'm still going to be doing what I always do, which is fund my own art. The only thing that is likely to change is that I will find even fewer gallery set-ups available, but this doesn't mean there won't be places to show my work. If there's one thing artists have more than pretty much any other profession, it's resourcefulness. They find ways, or make ways, to get their work out there and into the public eye. All they - we - want is a little moral support from art lovers, and the occasional financial incentive in the form of a sale wouldn't go amiss either.

Spraoi VIII

And so in defiance of the melodramatic rantings coming out of the radio, and as a homage to the people who live in Ireland who have worked hard and who also party hard, this painting is Spraoi VIII, because it's people like that who will continue to work and do what they do and through them and their vision and work ethic that this economic turmoil will eventually settle down again.

I am sick of the gloom and doom, and the rantings that feature words like 'never' and 'destitute' and 'leaving', and I am sick of the mud-slinging going on among the politicians especially. But at the same time, I feel a bit sorry for them, as maintaining that kind of high-end melodrama must be exhausting. Nevertheless I am well aware that these performances are  in preparation for the next election, which is looking increasingly imminent. And that shall pass ....

I welcome a change, even though it brings with it uncertainty. Even in uncertainty there's hope, as changes bring new opportunities.

The party may be over, but this doesn't mean that all parties are over, forever and ever. Far from it. And I wish that those Drama Queens on the radio would remember that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back to the Source! Opening postponed to 10 December 2010

I'm delighted to say that I've been asked back to show paintings in The Source Arts Centre in Thurles, County Tipperary. They specifically asked for this painting:

It's mixed media with acrylic, collage, and a bit of a pait of jeans on there - I was experimenting - but the drawings are all from Dún na Gréine, in that I drew them there as I was watching lots of people watch a Harry Potter film, and the title of the piece is, of course, Accio Firebolt, and Harry Potter fans will know exactly what it refers to.

I love the Harry Potter series, and am REALLY LOOKING FORWARD to the next film, which is coming out very soon. In fact, I might write a blog about it. Hm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some watercolour sketches to go to Kilcock Gallery in County Kildare

Kilcock Art Gallery in the town of Kilcock in County Kildare are having an exhibition in the six weeks prior to Christmas entitled BIG VISION - Small Works, and they have invited many artists to submit work for it, myself included. The exhibition will be officially opened on Saturday 13 November.

So I am sending four pieces:

Preening in het Feithuis, 2009

Het Nieuws Lezen (Reading the news) 2009

Blue Stripey Shirt, 2009

By the big windows in 't Feithuis, 2009

These sketches were all done in a lovely cafe called het Feithuis or 't Feithuis, in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands, where they serve the best coffee in the city - and that's saying a lot for a country in which coffee is king.

Each piece is beautifully framed (by the framing service at the Blueberry Gallery in Limerick city) and including the frame they all measure 30x25cm. 

The website for the Kilcock Gallery is

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The RDS and New Irish Art

I recently changed paintings in Draíocht in Adare, County Limerick, and have been asked to consider sending some paintings to the Arts and Crafts Fair in the RDS - the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Needless to say, this would be GREAT. It's the kind of set-up that very few artists can afford to do on their own, given that stands are nearly two grand for the three days, so all the artists/craftspeople are asked to do is contribute to the cost of the stand, and the Draíocht staff will be there to man it - because they want to promote their business also. But they can't do it without us - and this is a great win-win kind of thing.

Draíocht is on the Main Street in Adare, County Limerick. They are currently working on a website.

I also want to mention the New Irish Art website, which seems to have grown expontentially. I'm impressed with what they've done and continued to do despite economic hardship. In addition to showing work for free, they also compile downloadable individual PDF catalogues, which I think is just brilliant. I don't have one with them yet, but I need to take a couple of hours with Digital Dolf and get some high-quality images of my paintings for this and two other projects. Plus I like it that New Irish Art sends me a monthly bulletin of what they're doing, and the new things they have on stream. They have just celebrated their ten-year anniversary.

The website:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Watercolour sketch: Woman sleeping on the Groningen-Schiphol train

It just goes to show that you can sketch anything, anywhere, if you have the tools with you - I had my 8B pencil, my little sketchbook, and my blade to sharpen the pencil. The colours were added later.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reclining twisting female nude in charcoal and conté crayon on orange paper

Again, done in Limerick Printmakers Lifedrawing sessions. This was a fast one, I think it was 15 to 20 minutes, I didn't have much time but I would have loved to have been able to spend another 30 minutes on it. This piece is also up on my page (ID: orla99913)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another sale: Red Cows has sold!

Delighted to announce that the painting Red Cows, which was in the Joan Clancy Gallery in County Waterford, has also sold. For anyone who might be interested, Five Brown Trout is still available.

And now have 20 followers. Welcome newbies! Could I also suggest you visit DigitalDolf's blogspot page, he's been putting up some new photographs there and they are marvellous. One of his photos was recently praised by Shannon Development on Facebook. Nice!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy but saying hello, and the Blueberry Gallery, Limerick

I've been very remiss about posting here lately, I've been a bit busy with text work, the work that pays for painting.

But I now have 18 friends on my blog, which is very nice. Nice to have had you for the past while, and welcome to the most recent friends.

I'm also pleased to say that I was commissioned last April to do a small painting for a lady who lives here locally and with whom I do business (she supplies my home heating oil), and it's nearly ready to deliver, I will be picking it up from the framer's on Monday.

The same framer is actually part of the Blueberry Gallery in Limerick city, they did work for me earlier on this summer and I was really impressed with the quality of the work - good framing can make a good painting look fantastic, while bad framing does nothing at all for it. I'm also delighted with the two people who run it, Maurice and Ailish, they are both charming people and don't seem to let life or economics get to them too much. Maurice actually took it upon himself to propose several of his artists, including myself, for the Irish Percent for Art Scheme in one of the Limerick universities, and anyone who has ever done this for themselves knows how stressful this kind of thing is for ONE artist, and Maurice did it for SIX artists that I know of. So I course I really hope that his efforts pay off for him and the gallery, I have my fingers crossed for that. And naturally it would be lovely if one of my pieces were chosen also.

The Blueberry Gallery is on the Ennis Road opposite the Clarion Suites hotel, and very easy to find as it is well sign-posted, so if you are in the mood for a good banter and talking about art and life in general, stop by for 10 minutes. I am sure you'll stay longer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cows and fish, two more oils on canvas

Five Trout by Orla Clancy, oil on canvas, 30x45cm, 2010
Can also be seen at

Red Cows by Orla Clancy, oil on canvas, 30x45cm, 2010
Can also be seen at

These two paintings were included in the exhibition the Joan Clancy Gallery this summer, and Joan will hold onto them until the last week in September, as she asked to keep them until after Culture Night. 
Why cows and fish? Well, my father loved cows and farms and the land and everything like that, and he was the first to import exotic breeds of cattle from France, Germany and Switzerland to Ireland, with a view to exporting their progeny to the United States. Growing up, we helped look after the animals, what with moving them to fresh fields, checking the fencing and water, watching them to see if any were coming into season, that kind of thing. 

And the fish: there is a small river that flows through the farm, and he loved to go down there of a summer evening and catch fish. It was far enough away from the house for some peace and tranquility, but close enough for my mother to be able to call him, in those pre-mobile phone days. While the fish tended to be small, he did catch some that were big enough to clean and eat, so Mum would fry them in butter and they were very tasty with a little salt and pepper over them. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've made a sale!!!!

Entitled Bookshelf, 30x45 cm, oil on canvas and mixed media. Sold through the Joan Clancy Gallery in Ring, County Waterford, Ireland. Thanks Joan!

It's a personal painting, and a kind of tribute to my Dad. He used to read to us, and instilled a love of literature in all of us. Above are some of the books he'd read to us every night before he'd go out for his pint, and his beloved crossword puzzles, and some of the plays and poetry he loved, and subjects he also enjoyed, like the Irish countryside and photography as art in the brilliant publication The Family of Man, and some of the writers he introduced me to growing up.

Can also be seen at:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've been interviewed!

Here is the link:


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spraoi series, offer of a solo exhibition in Kilmallock in May 2011

So far I've done 10 or 11 of the Spraoi series, which I am pleased about. Here is another of that series:

Actually, it's the very first one of the series. And it looks much better for real. Time to get more pictures taken, I think. It's also available to view on

Plus Caoimhe Reidy of Friar's Gate Theatre and Arts Centre, Kilmallock, Count Limerick, has offered me a solo show for May of next year. This gives me 11 months to prepare work. I think I will make a whole new body of work for that, keep the Spraoi for a potential show in another part of Ireland. But it's great news, the offer of a solo show. It's been a while since I had a concrete offer of one of those. Some gallerists are .... slippery, it has to be said. Hard to pin down.

Art Gallery and Craft shop in Adare

Yes, I'm in another place in Adare, the (in)famous tourist village in County Limerick. This time in what looks like a good place, with people who know what they're doing: Draíocht on the main street.

I like that name, it's the Irish word for 'magic'. Only last week I was thinking I needed a little more magic in my life, which goes to show that we should all be careful what we wish for.


Anyway, here are the three paintings on display in there:

  Sitting Among Boys

Diorama - Mirror Maze

Sailing to Ischia I

They'll hold onto them for a few months and we'll see how that goes. It's convenient that I live in the vicinity, it means I can go meet potential buyers. The people running the place have discovered that that can really help clinch a deal.

Here's hoping.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Drawing - charcoal, pen, biro, pencil, ink, pens and pastels ....

For the type of art I produce, drawing is really important. Basic making of marks with pencil, charcoal, ink and other media is an engaging activity, as well as beneficial to hand-to-eye coordination. Drawing is still considered an important discipline in academic art training, and through the objective of making it as realistic as possible, the use of the camera lucida and the camera obscura, in combination with drawing, gradually developed into the modern camera, which in a way allowed drawing itself to become 'free'. Twisty lines, heavy or soft, can form a shapt to suggest a mood, evoke a place, time, memory - all you need is a little imagination.

When out sketching, my line is expressive. My hand moves fast to capture the poses. Often I get two poses at a time, a subject puts down their arm, turns slightly, I end up with a figure with two heads and three arms, or sometimes two bellies.

 The surface I use is important. I love using watercolour paper with bite. The subtle but definite texture of the paper creates a wonderful tension with soft pencil and ink. When I use pencils, I use a 6B or an 8B, and with pencil I also have the option to paint the drawing with watercolour paint later. And the B pencils can be used in so many ways also, you can barely stroke the surface with the tip and get the softest, finest line, or you can lean on it and get thick, dense, heavy marks - and with practice, everything in between.

Funny story about the purple ink - I wanted some cartridged to fit a very good quality Parker pen I was given, but purple ink is hard to come by, but I happened to be in Silke's of Catherine Street, Limerick city, and they had a box of the things and going to send them back to the wholesale but I asked if I could buy them instead, so I got the whole box for just €20 - gift! I had tried it on watercolour paper and loved the effect, and how you can cross-hatch and everything with it. And I just love the colour purple anyway ....

Charcoal is fun, I like using it on coloured paper, especially black and white charcoal. I tend to use this for a slightly different drawing situation: studio life drawing. Charcoal is easier to use to create form when working contrasting colours, there's less need to work extremely fast, and there's more time to focus on the subject and graduations of light on the model's skin. I apply charcoal using the tip of one end, but you do get an interesting line if you use the long side of the charcoal, and you can drag it across the surface to create shading and form. It's a fabulous way of building up a drawing.

I have mentioned using ink on watercolour for line drawings when out sketching random people, but I have also used it with a Chinese rush and homemade bamboo pen. You can thin the ink with water, and use ink pigment solutions of various strengths for lighter or darker lines or areas, which is especially useful for landscape sketching. However, my main reason for liking this medium is because you get a line that seems to explore its own existence, as well as form a component of a drawing.

Biro, fine tip or roller ball pens make for interesting lines also. Because I find that you have to work that little more to make 'real' lines and shapes with a biro or fine tip pen, and create double, triple, quadruple lines to create a shape, you get something with great movement and energy. Yes, they can look bitty and messy, but that's verging into the area of personal taste - as an artist, I like that kind of exploration of and with the line, but I do realise that not everyone gets this.

[And I have to say that the original looks a lot better than this reproduction.]

Black roller ball pens make a strong statement, the lines are very definite and I find I draw differently with these, I look more and have to be much more decisive as to where and how I'm going to leave my mark. I absolutely LOVE the combination of this kind of mark on cream watercolour with bite, but of course it cannot used be watercolour paints, more's the pity. Well, I suppose I could afterwards, but the spontaneity of the line created in the inital drawing would be very, very difficult to recreate.

And last but not least: pastels. The great thing about pastels is that they are the 'grey area', if you'll pardon the expression used in this context, between drawing and painting. You can draw with them, and then you can build up the form and detail so that you end up with something that looks like a painting. Apparently Da Vinci was the first artist to use them, and they were popular during the 1700s also. And of course, if you are ever in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, you must go visit the pastel works on display there - they are absolutely stunning, vivid, alive, positively writhing across the 2-D surface. No reproduction I have ever seen has done them justice, these are works by true Masters of the medium, like Degas, Mary Cassatt, Renoir, Berthe Morisot, and others. I love oil pastels on coloured paper, very handy if you like working out of doors.

"Drawing is the root of everything"   - Vincent van Gogh.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I signed in and saw I had 15 followers, hurray! Welcome, welcome .....

So I'm going to put up an example of my latest series, based on the street party that is the Waterford Spraoi festival that takes place every August Bank Holiday in Ireland. I love the colour, the movement, the sheer life of this festival.

Spraoi III. Oil on canvas.
Can also be seen at:

So far I have done 7 of these, and I have a gallery in Limerick city that wants to hang them, so I have to do lots more before May 12, for the offical opening of the Blueberry Gallery on the Ennis Road in Limerick.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brigham Galleries online auction!

This is my first foray into this world, just thought I'd try one and see how I got on.

This painting

entitled Sitting Among Boys is currently Lot Item 1177 in the auction at I checked it by entering my name in the Search box.

I had a look at some of the other work, and I was well impressed with a lot of it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Seated male nude in charcoal

Seated male nude in charcoal, from the late 1990s.

I can't remember when exactly I drew this, but it was one of the few drawings of the male nude that I still had and liked - when we moved from the Netherlands, I had to do some serious culling and get rid of lots of material.

Right now I'm making a little film file of all my nudes and my thoughts on nudity and painting nudes. The most recent model I've been using, a young woman from Sweden who is a trained dancer, has said that as part of posing for artists, she is discovering a new reality to her body and has found that to be interesting, and from something she said I think it has helped bring her into a new direction with her own dance studies - that would be nice!

Most of the models I've worked with have been female, but I would like to work with a male model again - men and women have different centres of gravity, different musculature, different proportions, aside from the obvious male/female differences, that is.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Acrylic on paper: Young Man with Mohawk

Pity I didn't have time to do this chap's piercings, he had loads, all over his ears, nostrils and a couple on his eyebrows. This was a quick 10 or 15-minute study, from what I remember, done during a life-drawing/portraiture session in the Walstraat, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This was featured on the Irish Times this March, and I think it's probably the wackiest thing I've ever come across, and I love it. I wish it were possible to write to those people, but alas .... maybe they will run search and find this blog posting, and possibly send me a note, I'd love that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three drawings from Groningen

This is actually a very small drawing with watercolour added, done in the city of Groningen when we went back to visit last year, in a delightful café there called Het Feithuis, where they serve the best coffee in the Netherlands. And I mean coffee. Real coffee. Really.

Again, in het Feithuis ... I wasn't close enough to listen into the conversation - not that I would ever actually do that, tisk tisk - but I so enjoyed watching the body language between these two men, as one seemed not to be sure ....

And this one is called Het Nieuws Lezen, and simply means 'reading the news'. I should mention that this particular café has very comfortable armchairs so you can really enjoy your coffee and read your paper or book in comfort.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Updates ....

This painting entitled Sisters Dún na Gréine is included in an exhibition to raise funds for earthquake survivors in Haiti. The exhibition is on in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, upstairs in the Narrow Space Gallery in Mitchell street, the town's only pedestrian street. The entire exhibition looks fantastic, and I was itching because there were a few paintings in there that I loved and would have been delighted to bring home. However, like every other freelancer and artist out there, I'm broker than broke.

But! ... I am delighted to share that the Mad Art Gallery on Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin, contacted me after I sent them some jpgs, and asked to meet me, and would I bring Rummaging with me, so I brought it and 5 other paintings, think that MAYBE I'd be able to sweet-talk them into taking a couple more. To my surpise and delight she took ALL SIX!! for a group show the gallery are holding in March. The gallery had a group show recently and sold several works, kudos to them. It's artist-run, and I don't think I would be too interested in going for any other kind of small gallery anymore.

But the ones she took are:
Cliffs of Moher: Sitting Among Boys
Cliffs of Moher: Spanish Picture
Mirror Maze: Diorama
Sailing to Ischia I
Sailing to Ischia II
Cliffs of Moher: Rummaging.

So I'm thrilled!

And one last thing, before I forget: I've started a new series of paintings based on the Spraoi festival in Waterford city, Ireland. It is a brilliant festival, my intent is to celebrate the exhuberance I witnessed there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hand on hip, pencil study.

I remain interested in the human body, and in my most recent life-drawing sessions, tried to concentrate on the hands. Arms, legs, torso I can do, but hands are still something of a challenge, what with their intricate bone structure, muscles, and the thought that our hands are such an expressive extension of our minds.

I'm also mindful that I'm using my hands to draw hands, and find I'm looking at my own hands just as much as the models. And it's not just the fingers, there's also the range of motion possible in the wrist and elbow and shoulder - this always affects the curve of a line, and there is the very reason why very few people can draw a straight line, myself included. (As an aside, I wonder if the 'I can't draw a straight line' actually means 'I don't really know anything about the development of art', because art developed as we did, and is so much a part of us that it is difficult to define at the best of times.) Years ago as a teenager I played the piano, not very well because I was not very interested in it, but playing the piano makes you so aware of your hands, and I'm reminded of it every time I draw or look at images of hands.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spanish Point Rockpools

Acrylic on paper, painted on location in 2001.

A little story about Spanish Point: it's near the tiny town of Miltown Malbay, in County Clare, which comes alive every summer with the Willie Clancy Summer School. Willie Clancy was a famous uileann piper from Miltown Malbay, and the summer school has workshops for almost every instrument used in Irish trad music, as well as set dancing and step dancing workshops. And the afternoons and evening have brilliant music sessions in every pub, sometimes 3 sessions to a pub, it's the busiest week of the year in Miltown Malbay, and we used to call it 'Willie Week'.

We stayed in this lovely old house in Spanish Point, near where I sat down to paint the picture included in this blog posting, that was owned by a slightly whacky couple from Limerick city, the woman and her sister ran the B&B during the summer months, and they are still the two funniest people I have ever met. But then Spanish Point has more than its fair share of eccentrics.

There was the story of the car that went out in the tide one year, when a few young Yahoos from the city decided to bring someone's Dad's very expensive German car out onto the sands at the big wide beach at Spanish Point during low tide. Naturally the car got stuck in the soft sand, and nothing but a tractor and a chain would get it out. Only - they didn't get a tractor on time, they underestimated the speed of the incoming tide, and abandoned the car, thinking that they would get it when the tide went back out again. So a few hours later they went back to the beach, and the very expensive car was gone, dragged out to sea by the Atlantic currents. It's probably mush at the bottom now. Keeping company with what's left of the Titanic ... not much of an exaggeration when you think of the force of those currents.

And then there are the extraordinary foxes that live in the area. Foxes are so smart, and live right beside us but often we don't notice them. My other half went outside to our car one morning to get something out of it, and forgot to close the car door when he came back inside - as it was a clear, sunny morning, we thought it would be fine to leave the door open to air out the car anyway. But then this fox materialised out of the undergrowth beside the house, and slunk into the front of the house, in the shadow of the car, and around and climbed right into the car and sniffed around. Now I'm not against foxes per se, but I have been close to them physically and they are inclined to be a bit smelly - I didn't want this one getting comfortable in the car, and I certainly didn't want him pooing in it, as it was a rented car. So my other half ran out and the fox jumped out of the car and ran away.

Another brilliant story of the foxes of Spanish Point: Foxes are foragers as well as hunters and consumers of small animals, and Spanish Point in July and August is like a great big picnic to a fox, what with the campsite and the leftover food humans leave lying around in dustbins and what have you. One man staying in the campsite arrived back to his tent late at night a bit worse for wear from the drink, and just pulled out his false teeth and stuffed them into the pocket of his jeans, then pulled off his jeans and left them outside the tent, with his wallet and cards and cash and everything in it. When he woke up the next morning, the trousers with teeth and wallet were gone, so naturally he assumed human involvement, and called the police. Only the trousers, complete with false teeth and wallet, turned up on the lawn of the house we were staying at, run by the two mad sisters. One of the ladies found it, picked it up and brought it inside, found the wallet, and then put her hand in the other pocket and found the teeth. So she called the police and reported what had happened. It turned out that none of the money was missing from the wallet, nothing at all was taken, but the trousers were a little - ahem - ripe from being worn day and night for several days, and teeth marks in the trousers indicated vulpine involvement - the trousers had been taken by a fox, presumably because the ripeness of the trousers in question was irresistible. Between the false teeth and the smelly trousers, the poor man who owned them was so embarrassed that he cut short his visit to Spanish Point, and left that very day.

This painting was framed up in November 2011, more than 10 years after I painted it.