Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The fundamentals: making work, pushing through

If you're prone to going through periods where you're so inundated with great ideas that it's hard to actually find a place to begin, then you and I are on the same wavelength.

It's the 'push through' you have to do, and nobody can do it for you. You can't sit around and wait for the Muse to strike, she has to be hunted down. You have to get yourself sorted, get your materials ready and just get stuck in. It's the bit between 'I want to go paint' and the getting stuck in that I get a bit unstuck.

Distractions sneak in. There's a phone call I have to take, an e-mail I have to answer. Laundry to be hung out to dry, lawns to be mowed before the rain comes back. Text work that must be done by end of business today. So by the time I get back to the Muse, she's off on a cigarette break and I'm being asked what's for dinner.

But if you don't push through all this, you don't get work made. And if you don't make work, you've no paintings to show for it.

Over the past couple of years I've become a bit lazy when it comes to making large oils on canvas, simply because I have about 50 large unsold canvases in my house, owing to the very difficult economic situation in Ireland and Europe generally. I wasn't selling them fast enough to justify churning them out. I have over a dozen that have not been seen outside of County Limerick, but I have posted them online so people still see them, but the actual paintings are in my possession. I stopped painting so many oils, invested in good quality watercolour paper and started doing my watercolour drawings, and got myself a camera.

However, I feel the yen to do more large oils, so I've started the push through by sizing and priming a couple of canvases, and even if I don't use oil paint on them, there's always acrylic paint. The canvases will be dry and ready to use tomorrow.

I also want to play with some black and white drawings, so I have made inquiries about where to get carbon paper, to transfer lines onto watercolour paper. That's my little jaunt in the car this evening.

And there's a box of small paintings, mostly oils, that I have started but cannot consider finished - yet. Every few weeks I take them out and look at them. And then the phone rings, or there's an e-mail. But enough excuses.

My list of projects I want to work on - and not all of them are exclusively painting or drawing - continues to grow, and if I am to make headway I need to push through. So I am rolling up my sleeves ..... More about this tomorrow. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Art and the Internet

It used to be that art was in special 'art' places - galleries and institutions, and possibly high-brow eateries or corporate buildings, that its very presence gave a certain 'cachet' to a gaff. This was before there was such a thing as the Internet.

Social networking sites, which mimic the very human and very ancient 'word of mouth', have revolutionised the whole visual world. Why describe an event when you can post up a photo or video of it. Similarly, why not share the art you create? 

The beauty of social networking sites is that you can put up a link to pretty much anything - photography sharing sites such as Flickr.com, Pinterest, etc.; specialist art sites like DeviantArt, Art Fortune, FASO, etc. - and share it, and in this way invite people to see it. 

It's easy to forget that you're not sharing the art as in the art object, but I don't think that matters anymore. If people can look at the image of the art object in a manner that's comfortable, they aren't bothered that the actual dimensions of the art object in question - the painting or sculpture or installation - might appear very different to how they are shown in the photographs. If you can access the work whenever you like, who needs to actually go out and buy a print, never mind an original piece. 

However, the downside of this is obvious: you can't always appreciate the impact of the piece either. An immediate example is the work of Modernist painter Mark Rothko. His abstract works were simply huge blocks of colour on enormous canvases - not much when you describe them in words, and certainly not really that exciting when reduced to fit on a computer screen. However, the actual paintings are massive things that take up entire walls of museums and suck the viewer right in. They are meant to disassociate you from your 'real' surroundings and transport you to a spiritual realm through contemplating the works - which would take considerable imagination if you are looking at such a piece on a computer screen. 

I am sure that there are artists out there who are exploring this notion and will come up with an installation that examines this idea of 'experiencing' art using a computer/the Internet. I know that the technology is available to experience the likes of Rothko on the scale at which he is meant to be experienced, but given financial and technical limitations on the part of most art affectionados, I think that such installations would - ironically - be limited to subsidised contemporary art galleries or spaces with the money to throw at projects such as these. But then again, people are extraordinarily resourceful ...

I like using the Internet to share my images. You can do it for free, if you wish - all it takes is time to promote your work. And I love the thought that, with very little effort on my part, I can make it possible for people anywhere in the world to see work I've created. Most of them are happy with seeing the images, but I have received a few requests for prices for the actual paintings or drawings. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

A little one .... Tournafulla Christmas Concert.

 Oil on canvas, 40x40 cm.

Okay, sorry for mentioning the dreaded C word in July. I apologise. Last year someone mentioned it in my hearing in September and I nearly had a canary. But I wanted to post up a painting I hadn't shown yet ...

I love going to communities like Tournafulla - which, if you're interested, is in a valley in the hills of West Limerick, and not far from Newcastle West. It's very pretty. It's one of those places that you find when you make a wrong turn, and go off the main road, and are looking for someplace else ...

We got to know some people from there through the Irish traditional music, my other half Dolf Patijn includes among his many talents considerable skill as a musician and in particular the bodhrán. I loved getting random shots of the people there, and have used them for many paintings.

I think that some evening soon, if we ever get another day of summer here in Ireland, I will take the car and go for a drive up there, and get some shots of the landscape - there is one particular place with a stunning view of the northern slopes of the Ballyhoura Mountains, and you can see a bit of the Galtee Mountains too

When the rain clears and you can actually see it, you realise why so many think Ireland is pretty, and why the landscape was such an inspiration to writers like Walter Macken. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I was asked to share this: Movies in the Milk Market, Limerick.

Classic film ‘Singin’ In the Rain’ at the Milkmarket

With cinema screen and cinema sound, Gene Kelly’s musical ‘Singin in the Rain’ is presented at Limerick ’s Milkmarket in a special showing as part of the Movies at the Market slot on Saturday July 28th. This is the first of two late evening presentations.

From 1952 ‘Singin in the Rain’ looks at the transition from silent movies to ‘talkies’ and how the stars of the silent screen dealt with the issues. Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen and Debbie Reynolds light up the screen with fantastic songs and dance moves – all done with a generous helping of humour and a great heap of technicolour to boot. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ has to be seen at least once on the big screen.

Screenings on each night will begin at 9 p.m. before the main feature at 10 p.m., with local archive footage from Limerick Film Archive and film shorts made by teenagers from recent winners at Limerick ’s national competition The Fresh Film Festival. So patrons are advised to come early for this special event. Steven Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ screens on the following Saturday August the 4th, as the main feature.

Ticket Information:
Tickets are available on the evening for each screening and priced at €7 for individuals and €20 for a group of four.
Tickets will also be available in advance at  the ‘Movies’ stall at the market during Milkmarket opening hours from Friday 20th July.
Secure online booking for each film: through

Located next to the Milkmarket, patrons may park at the Cornmarket Square Car Park from 6pm to midnight at a maximum cost of €3.


Movies At The Market is presented by Nenagh Arts Centre in association with the Milkmarket, Limerick . Additional screening footage from The Fresh Film Festival and The Limerick Film Archive.

For further details contact:

Brendan Maher

Nenagh Arts Centre
Town Hall,
Banba Square,
Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
Ph. +353 (0)67 34400

Monday, July 16, 2012

Galleries, both online and offline

I have just updated my Studio on Art Fortune, all you need to do enter my name in the Search field and click on my name under Studio when it comes up. You'll have seen the images before, but maybe not the comments.

Also, I had an interesting time at the art galleries in Dublin city centre last Friday. I managed to get to six different ones in a couple of hours, just to get a feel of the places and of the activity in them.

My first stop was the Gallery at Number 6, South Anne Street, Dublin 2. It was a beautiful space, with beautiful work, and I spent a few minutes looking around before getting into conversation with the lady working there. I had never heard of this place, and was astonished at the quality of the work on display, and the variety. There were some truly INCREDIBLE still life pieces there, paintings that were astonishingly photorealistic, and some wonderful expressive pieces of various styles, also three-dimensional. It really is a treasure trove and I was wondering how I hadn't heard of it before. Apparently they have been getting work done on their website and it isn't quite finished yet, and but they are indeed on Facebook. This gallery is in a prime location, smack-bang in the middle of the city centre, and just up the street from the Gotham Café, so really there's no excuse not to pop in and look around.

The next place I went to was the Solomon Gallery, which is all one level, but the works were really cleverly hung. Your eye was taken by this superb painting of a boathouse - for the life of me I can't remember the name of the artist - hanging in the middle at the rear of the premises. And you noticed other works after that, but that painting definitely had pride of place. Sounds weird, but it shimmered, the subject matter was very mundane, but there was something slightly otherworldly about it. I noticed many sculptures also, and I wasn't the only visitor, there were two ladies present who seemed very interested in some of the sculptures. What I also noticed was that the lady working there was tipping away on her computer and took a phone call while I was there - so there was lots of activity going on also, and they have a Facebook presence.

After that I walked through the Westbury Mall and found the Balla Bán Art Gallery in there. The first thing I thought was that for such a tiny gallery - it's literally 3 metres by one and a half metres at the most - it has a HUGE Facebook presence. Seriously, you're not going to be bringing massive busloads of tours to this place, but then you don't need to. At the time of writing their website seems to be down, but their Facebook page never sleeps ... They do a lot of limited edition prints of original drawings and paintings, which is a nice way of building up an inexpensive collection. I had a nice chat with Lucie Pacovská, who was working there at the time.

Then it was over to Jorgensen Fine Art on Hibernian Way. I liked the paintings very much, but I was particularly taken with a fantastic cast bronze sculpture of a deer (I think) with this huge curling horns - that must have been a difficult one of cast, but it was stunning. The artist really caught the spirit and energy of the animal, and I wish I could remember the artist's name. They seemed to be in the process of hanging odd pieces, but I didn't ask or engage in conversation because they seemed busy - she was tapping away at the computer and answering the phone, he was doing the hanging and arranging of the works. But I would like to talk to them at some point. I liked the space and the vibe in the place.

My next stop was Sol Art, and these guys I have been in touch with before because they used to do these touring exhibitions around Ireland, in which they'd set up an Art Fair of local artworks in one of the hotels close to or in the main cities, and I showed with them in the Radisson Blu just outside of Limerick City. Their premises in Dublin is one of these magnificent Georgian buildings with high ceilings, ornate fireplaces, amazing decorative plaster (stucco?) work on the ceilings, this alone has a certain wow factor to it, and it is a great setting for art. The rooms are huge, I'd nearly fit my entire house (admittedly mine is not a large house) into one of them. Upstairs there was another exhibition space where some photography was shown, and while I'm a huge admirer of photography, I'm not sure that this was the best setting, as you really need works with a certain va-va-voom wow factor to compete with the rooms in the building. (I'm pretty sure my paintings could do this - well, the big ones, anyway.) Sol Art also have a Facebook page, and the work there was varied and interesting.

I hadn't done this in a while, gone into a gallery, so it was something of a sensory saturation (try saying that 3 times really fast) for me, and now I'm itching to pick up a paintbrush. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seated figures in Prague, a sketch from 2007

For the life of me, I can't remember if I painted this up with watercolours or not .... possibly. I will check over the next few days. But Prague was lovely, I enjoyed it a lot, and will go back there someday.

It's very late as I post this, I'm about to turn in after a busy day looking at galleries in Dublin city centre, more about that tomorrow. 

200th post

I've made another list, one that will be done with TODAY. I'm in Dublin, and I've made a list of galleries in Dublin city centre I want to visit in one day - it HAS to be one day, because there isn't time to visit any more. I have a list of eight, let's seen how many I actually spend an appreciable amount of time in. I just want to get a feel of the work they exhibit, and leave them a card and if the vibe is right, I'll try and make a proper appointment.

Walked all the way from Heuston Station LUAS stop through the Phoenix Park all the way to my friend's house in Castleknock. I didn't realise that there was a slight uphill gradient in the Park for two-thirds of the way, so I got a great workout, haha.

Nice to be back in Dublin again, though. I was in Sandymount village yesterday - now part of the city - and walked into an Italian restaurant, and looked around and realised I'd been there before ... and here's my next news. I'm making another blog, of places I've been to I like. It's called Orla's Reviews, basically telling about places or things that have made an impression. I will have to be nice, but honest. First review will be of this restaurant. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Park by the Sea, Lisbon, Portugal

Another watercolour drawing from a couple of years back. I kind of like the uniformity in the colours here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Busy weekend ....

What a weekend. Saturday, up to Dublin for the Dublin 2012 Gay Pride parade, with friends, then home to the cats and bed. I slept for 12 hours altogether.

Then up on Sunday and off to Rathfredagh Cheshire Home Garden Fete to do face-painting for kids. I painted about 40 faces in total, it was a nice steady stream. Then home, watched a brilliant film called Night Watch (Russian science fiction/occult, set in modern-day Moscow, absolutely brilliant) and am looking forward to seeing the sequel Day Watch, then had a shower, did a bit of tidying and went to bed.

Am looking outside at the weather - not looking good - so I'll be working on the list today, and on the day job.