Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salon du Chat and other stories

I had heard about it, and indeed there was one during the famous Electric Picnic music event in Ireland, and there have been one in Limerick a few months ago, and I'd only heard GOOD things about it, so I decided I'd go in and check it out.

So glad I did. Salon du Chat is not French for Salon of the Cat - but you'd be forgiven for thinking it - but is a play on the concept of 'salon' and the English word 'chat', as in to talk to with another person in an informal manner, or indeed to talk to another person via an application on the Internet, only in a café situation, possibly with strangers, and with a 'menu' of topics you can choose from. It was on in the Cantine on Mallow Street in Limerick City as part of the Elemental Arts Festival.

And it was nice. I liked the 'random' aspect of it, as I was seated with two young women, one from Malaysia and the other from Poland, (and my goodness but their mastery of the English language could put anyone to shame,) and an Irish lad who turned out to be a software engineer. Neither of the two girls had been aware of what was going on, but they stayed and participated for an hour before heading off to get something to eat, and another guy joined our table. All the stuff we talked about, wow - Giant memories, Sharing is Caring, GIY, to name but a few, and of course the beauty of the conversations is that it could not but flow into other subjects and other topics.

Great fun. Can think of a few people who'd enjoy it. Will let them know about it in good time, they might want to go to it. Apparently the organisers want to hold a Salon du Chat five times every year ... :-D.

Culture Night is next Friday - what will I go see? Lots and lots going on ... we are spoiled for choice.

And further to the cataloguing of works and going through folders, I'm delighted to discover a whole rake of watercolour drawings I'd recorded, here are some from Sicily, once place I was very very sad to leave ... Here are a few of them. Enjoy.

Catania, Curious Germans (I think)

Couple On Holiday

Family Group, Palermo

Ice Cream for Lunch! Catania

In Cefalu

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Giant Grandmother in Limerick

In early December, the biggest Granny in the world visited Limerick city and walked around.

The 'Granny' was in fact a giant puppet created and executed by Royal De Luxe, a French company that specialises in creating acts for street theatre, overseen by company director and artist Jean-Luc Courcoult. The company has other giant puppets, including The Girl, The Dog, and apparently one known as The Spider - which I personally would find absolutely terrifying - as well as many other projects that are documented on the company's website.

But back to Limerick. Of course there were the begrudgers. The whingers who went on and on about how much it was costing (around a million Euro, according to Limerick City of Culture Director Mike Fitzpatrick), how the city centre would be disrupted for the weekend by streets being closed off to traffic, how local businesses would suffer, etc. However, given the publicity around the event, and the warnings to car owners in the city who would normally park their cars along the streets where Granny was due to go that the cars would be towed if they were there on the days in question, you'd want to be completely out of the loop not to be aware of what was going on. There was AMPLE WARNING, in a nutshell. And Park&Ride buses had been provided ....

In the days before the weekend, odd things started to appear in Limerick city. There were cars parked in odd places with huge iron safes embedded in them. A bus that would normally carry human passengers was seen cruising around, half full of potatoes. And odd giant footprints were spotted on the pavements .... all of which contributed to the general excitement of the weekend, so that by the time Granny arrived on the Friday, a nice buzz was building up.

In addition to the Royal De Luxe technicians, there was a team of local volunteers who helped make up the team of 'Lilliputians' to help 'Granny' get around. I see myself doing it, referring to this giant puppet as though she was a person - this was the genius in her execution and performance, she was so well made and operated, and the character developed in such a manner, that in the eyes of the people who saw her and followed her around the city, she DID become a 'person'. She travelled in her wheelchair for a time, and also got up to walk, waved and smiled at spectators, drank some whiskey (a couple of gallons apparently) and smoked a pipe, and - to the great amusement of the many small children among the crowd - stopped in the middle of the street to have a pee. Yes, that's right. To piss. Pass water. Urinate, if we must be direct about it. Yeah, she wasn't bothered. She was a giant, remember? And being a giant, she slept in the Sarsfield Barracks on this huge bed specially brought over for her ...

I loved the atmosphere in the city when I went to see her. The weather was amazing all weekend, and people were in great humour - the wonder of the Granny, the amusement at her antics, the vibe generally, it was amazing. The gardaí - or police force, to those of you not familiar with Irish institutions - were out and having a laugh with the rest of us, and did a marvellous job controlling the crowds - because there were crowds. Cafés and sandwich bars did a roaring trade, to the extent that many of them had to close in the middle of Sunday afternoon because they had run out of supplies. (I heard it on the radio the following Monday.) More than one person in my Facebook acquaintances was converted, and praised the initiative and Granny herself. And many, myself included, think that there is room for more street theatre in Limerick city, and like how Royal De Luxe gave us a taste of what's possible. And I believe the person who organised this event is Karl Wallace, in which case - wow. Your vision is justified, Mr Wallace.

I took a few shots myself, but I think that in order to fully appreciate Granny and the wonderful effect she had on Limerick city, I will refer you to the photographs taken by the various photographers for the page. I particularly like the shots of Granny on the bridges, with all the people milling around her.

What a great weekend.

Some of my own shots:

Granny was going down Roches Street in her wheelchair in Limerick city centre, and because even in her wheelchair she's so large, the Lilliputians had to help her along by making sure she didn't get caught up in cables. They used a pole to push up the cables as Granny was going under them.

The shots below give an idea of the scale. Granny herself is quite tall, and the equipment to make her move of her own accord is even taller. No cables along the quays!

Come back to Limerick soon, Granny. We miss you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two more watercolour drawings

Now that I'm a bit more organised - see last post - I know what I haven't posted up here yes, so here are two more which date from my last trip to Paris a few years ago. 

Jokingly entitled 21st-Century Impressionism

St Michel, Paris

I really do have a treasure trove of work, although I have come across a few of them that I might possibly use to light the fire over the coming months. Waste not, want not, and all that. 

Digging is dangerous. I want to go make MORE. LOTS MORE. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cataloguing my works

It started when I was going through watercolour drawings in a folder - I must have hundreds of the things at this stage. It occurred to me that it might be a useful exercise in provenancing works to link the actual drawings to blog posts I did about them, and then I realised I'd need to search them all out ... and as I had started to catalogue works a few months ago, I decided to add a column in the worksheet to include the date that the work in question was blogged.

Holy moly. And here's a whole new kind of clutter.

I discovered that I'd blogged some works 3 or even 4 times, and others not at all. Great, I'm thinking. It means I've lots of pieces I have yet to share with you all. But bummer if I've shared some a tad too many times. However, it only highlights the usefulness of cataloguing one's work. It also means I'll be taking a day to scan/photograph and upload soon again.

And did I mention that I also wanted to note the folder I have filed the digital files in on my computer on the back of the works in question? In my own shorthand, of course. That's just as much fun, and will also have to be included in the catalogue file.

It's like I really REALLY want to do this before I start uploading the next batch.

Sometimes I think it would be SO NICE to have an art elf to do all this stuff for me, phone galleries to arrange viewings/visits/exhibitions, draft and send out PR stuff, nag me to do blogs/writing, arrange to deliver/collect artworks, and basically organise me ... but then I'd miss out on the digging through the clutter than I kind of enjoy. There's certain element of expectancy and delighted surprise always: did I really make that? What was I thinking? Did I think it was fab then? (Then it just gets reburied. Am starting to seriously run out of house.)

(Of course there's the whole other 'what was I thinking?' bit too, the bit which includes 'is there any way I can rescue this thing, or would it just be easier to burn it?' followed by 'why don't I turn this upside-down and see how that works?')

On another note, greetings to visitors from Swaziland, yours was the most recent new country to visit my blog. Am fairly sure we are running out of countries at this stage. And could I remind all you lovely people that I love getting comments, and that all comments are moderated? (And that if you're hoping to post up something dodgy in another language, I have access to Google Translate and I'm not afraid to use it?) Thank you, and have a great week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photos! Day trips and pretty places in Ireland.

Had a bad moment, password was changed and I couldn't remember what it was. The nerves! But it's all good now.

We recently had a few more day trips away from the house, as our niece from the Netherlands came over for a visit. Her opinion of Ireland: "It's very different to the Netherlands. But beautiful." They all find the roads a bit dark at night, everyplace over there has street lighting, but Ireland is very very dark.

Our first day trip was to County Clare, to see the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock Shop and to trot over to Kilfenora to meet up with some artisan chocolatiers and sample some of their new wonderful Mayan Magic Chocolate - they had a lovely white chocolate with goji berries and a lemony aftertaste, it was truly sublime and I have a bar of it in the fridge which I am saving for a special moment .... naturally while there we got several different bars, I personally quite like the caramel, and want to try some other flavours. After Kilfenora, we returned to Lisdoonvarna and then headed through the Burren via Corkscrew Hill, a fun drive, and then meandered slowly towards home via the coast road, and stopped off for a lovely dinner in Lahinch, yummy fish and chips. No need for dessert.

The second day trip was to Dingle Peninsula, and we headed over the Connor Pass - I know I've driven it before but I couldn't remember what it was like, and once I was on it I remembered why I couldn't remember it - obviously the road is so narrow and so tightly perched on the side of the mountain, that it's a bit hellish unless you're calm, relaxed and well-rested. No matter, I let the Other Half do the driving, seeing as I'd driven us there before. It was a lovely clear day so of course the views were stunning.

Dingle town and harbour from the Connor Pass

We had a little mooch around the town - I will never get over how much it has changed since I was first there in the 1980s, but it's good to see that many of the landmarks are unchanged, although sadly the Bridge Bar, known locally as the 'Droichead' appeared to be for sale, oh well. And then we found a little place where we could get a nice healthy lunch (quiche and salad) before heading out around Slea Head and the Wild Atlantic Way - apparently the PR crowd in the tourist board have spent the past year marketing the knickers off that coastal route that goes all the way down the west coast of Ireland, from Donegal to Cork, complete with big blue zig-zag line as the logo, and you have to hand it to them, they did a good job all things considered. The Other Half wanted to follow the WAW route around Slea Head, and it took us through parts of the peninsula I'd never seen before. 

Seagull admiring the view to Iveragh

Slea Head and the Blasket Islands

As you can see from the photos, the sea was quite calm, calm enough for us to spot some dolphins swimming off Dunquin, very near where the photo on the bottom was taken. 

We headed home, stopping on the way for a bite to eat in Tralee, and found a great Chinese restaurant there called the Rose Garden, located on Rock Street, and were the only people in sitting down to eat there, but apparently it's very popular with locals for takeout. The food was very tasty, I'd recommend it. (Note to self: Trip Advisor next.)

The third day trip was to Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe. Earlier in the summer the Other Half and I went out onto Valentia Island, which was stunning, and I'd hoped to get there again, but not this year. But we did go for a lovely walk down along the gap, laughing at the tourists hoping to drive it. I drove it years ago, in poor visibility and rain. Never again. It's just about wide enough to fit a good-sized wheelbarrow, so two cars trying to pass each other out is HILARIOUS. No. I am never driving down there again. But it's wonderful for walking, cycling, and if you like horses, riding. Of course you're asked if you'd like to ride in a jaunting car, basically a horse-drawn carriage. Moll's Gap is a valley created between the mountains during the last Ice Age, and has beautiful reedy lakes and lush vegetation on the valley floor, but as you go up, the trees turn to grass and eventually it gets barer until you have rock. And it's wild. We were metres away from a doe grazing with her fawn, and they were wary of us but didn't mind us taking their pictures. Later we saw another deer grazing with some ponies in a field beside the road. 

Pony and deer grazing together, not a bother

The little river between the lakes in the Gap of Dunloe

That evening we demolished pizzas in Milano in Killarney, we'd earned them! Nothing like a good walk to work up an appetite. 

The last road trip was to the south-east, to visit my Mum and meet up with some friends. Oh yes, we had a walk, this time up to the Mahon Falls, in the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford, which as always was a bracing walk, one which I have done on Christmas Day a couple of times. It's about a mile each way from the car park to the actual waterfall, and so many people find they want to start climbing up beside the falls to the top. I've done it myself, and on a clear day you get the most marvellous views, but we didn't on this trip. The gang of us went off to have a meal nearby, and then it was time to go home, this time along the Blackwater valley to Fermoy, and on home. Needless to say we all fell into bed and slept soundly ... 

The Mahon Falls, in the Comeragh Mountains, County Waterford

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shelf and newt

Am very pleased to show this great shelf Dolf put up for me in the room, to store my paintings. Will make some box shelf additions, the plan is to go look for them over the next few days. That way I can store even MORE STUFF .... 

Had a little surprise the other day while clearing away weeds in the back garden, we have some more newts! Beautiful little creatures. I will keep an eye out for more of them, and keep the camera at the ready. What with all the plants out there, and flies and spiders and things, we probably have an entire colony. I should weed more. Or maybe weed less so we have more newts. The jury is out on that one. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The garden this July, 2014.

For two months I worked on my garden almost every day, and then what with the wonderful weather in June, everything just blossomed ... Here are some shots.

I've no idea what this yellow stuff is called, it only blooms in the summer, and it takes over entire areas. I'm going to move some of it to the very back of the garden.

When we moved here, my mother gave me a poppy head with a few seeds in it. I keep finding poppies in the oddest of places!

I threw down a few seeds about ten years ago, and now get borage every year. Great for pollinators, the flowers are great for salads, and come the autumn the plants are great for composting.

I keep hoping the flowers on this will change to blue - they were pinkish last year, now they are white, so maybe .... 

Got a lot of iris flowers this year, due to the great weather in June. 

The staple of Irish hedgerows, the fuchsia. I have a few large bushes, all of which grew from cuttings I took from wild hedgerows. They are an incredibly prolific plant, and so pretty.

I have a couple of fruit trees out the back, so far this year I see apples only. 

Garlic grows very well in Ireland, which is great because I love it. You can't beat fresh garlic. And it is nice to draw and paint too - so versatile!

Onions going to seed. Last year I collected some seeds and got plants from them, which was nice. 

Technically a weed, but pretty and colourful all the same. I love clover flowers, and once I mow the lawn, these will be gone. Most of the lawn has white clover flowers, but there are several patches of purple.

Friday, May 30, 2014

New work: one of the last of the Street Party series.

The reason why it's 'one' of the last is because I keep seeing things in them that I want to tweak.

I originally called it the Spraoi series because the Spraoi festival of Waterford was why inspired it, but later changed it simply to Street Festival. The painting spent a few days in Carlow, but now it's back home with the rest of the family. Am very pleased with it. I like it the best of all 19 or so Street Party paintings I've made.

I think that I will take stuff outdoors today, and work on that. I have a couple of acrylics I want to work on, but I'm also rather keen on drawing again. And maybe adding watercolour.

Such beautiful weather we've been having lately .... 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Prices up on Saatchi page

Am feeling rather psyched, because most of them are now priced there - two of the oil ones aren't yet simply because there seemed to be technical issues at the Saatchi end, but no matter, it's only a few minutes to enter those details another time when those issues are sorted.

So, here are the ones I have posted on my Saatchi page, the links below lead you to where I posted them in this blog:

Backpacker Venus
Cigarette Smoking Man
Campo Dei Miracoli III
Carrier of This Reality
Sailing to Ischia I
Rendez-vous at the Trevi Fountain
Caloptric Chamber
Aventine Wedding (also available as prints)
Ten Minutes
All Time, Everywhere, Anyone
Campo Dei Miracoli IV

Prices are on the Saatchi page, as is other information. Now I must get back to the day job. Cheerio folks!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Interesting article from the Huffington Post, and an update

And if you weren't sure what certain art terms mean, you might find them in the link.

Even though I've been making art since I was a child, I learned a few things from this. Goes to show that you can learn stuff from anyone, anytime. And yes, I too am a post-modernist.

The update: I've weighed and measured some paintings for the Saatchi Online Gallery, so now it's just a question of entering in that information, finding the link to the appropriate tax form again - can't find it where the link was, but I'm sure I will eventually - and getting that sorted, and figuring out the cost of packaging the works, as some will be more expensive than others, and ultimately figuring out what I want to charge for said works too.

I do have another project I want to finish, a front page for an e-book. Luckily it's my own project, so I needn't worry about irate authors; but still, I want it done and out there. When the book is up and available, I'll post a link to it. Any day now!

But here in County Limerick it's not raining, the dandelions on the back lawn are getting very big and cheeky, and I do have plants to move, flowerbeds to weed, flowerpots to wash, seeds to plant, daffodils to dead-head and manure to collect. All to be done over the next few days - it's a big garden. I like working in the garden. It's great exercise, and it's given me some ideas about stories and paintings and pictures .... I find that when I focus on doing something with my hands, the mind is at liberty to wander down lost pathways and discover interesting things. Or something.

See? I'm a post-modernist. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Take your time: a day for giving art the attention it deserves - Visual Art | News and Articles on Visual Art |The Irish Times - Tue, Apr 08, 2014

Take your time: a day for giving art the attention it deserves - Visual Art | News and Articles on Visual Art |The Irish Times - Tue, Apr 08, 2014

Scamper around galleries? Check. Take in this? Check. Glance at that? Check. Go around and have another quick look? Been there, done that.

When I was in art college in Limerick, we did a day in Dublin at least once, and did a whistle-stop tour of galleries. Well, we had to. We only had one day, and several galleries to visit. The longest one was an hour in IMMA, and I spent most of the time there in the café meeting my brother who happens to live quite near it.

The more I think about this, the more I realise that this running around and glancing at pictures actually defeats the purpose of making art in the first place. You have to get yourself out of bed, out of the house, into the bus or car, and off to the city where the art venue is located .... and then run around. There's no time to really look. So course, if you're not looking, you're not seeing what's there, and if you're not seeing what's there, you're not able to appreciate the work you're looking at. And why would you buy something, why would you shell out a humongous amount of cash for something you cannot stop to see and appreciate?

The irony is that artists make art so that it will be placed in someone's home, and not so much become part of the furniture as part of the family, and even generate conversations over the years. It can become more than an 'investment'. Those who buy it, buy it because they've seen something in it, and want the chance to see more, and contemplate the work ... and so have a kind of long-term conversation (for want of a better word) with the piece. When I had my exhibition in the Law Library in Dublin, I had my enormous work Truth Universally Acknowledged hanging there, in rather a prominent position. One of the legal professionals who had an office in the building, upon hearing that I was there, came out to meet me and to tell me how much he enjoyed that particular painting. "I come by and look at it for half an hour at a time," he told me "and every time I find something new in it. I love it," he continued "but if I brought it home, the wife would kill me." The painting is six foot long by four foot wide, you'd need a large room to hang it, and yes I suppose the wife has a point .... it's hanging right behind me as I tap into my laptop.

And I'm also guilty of giving away pieces for free to friends, because I know that those friends will appreciate the works and hang them where they can be admired. I can't help thinking I know people who would give a dog or a cat away to someone they know and trust, because they know that dog or cat will have a happy life with that person. Sometimes I think that way about my paintings. (But then I mentally slap myself and tell myself to cop on.)

But back to the whistle-stop gallery visits thing: does this mean that blogging your art is the way to go? And using online sales portals like Saatchi and all the rest? And

I've viewed a lot of work on those websites. Would I look at them if they were hanging in galleries? I like to think I would. But would I give them the proper attention they deserve in a gallery? Honestly, I'm not sure I would - not if I knew I could have them up on my computer screen for as long as I liked, and could admire them sitting in the comfort of my own home. But you don't get the same quality, obviously, and it's difficult to see certain ways of painting when the piece is reproduced this way. Impasto kind of loses its impact.

I want to look at the work of other artists. But I live far away from Dublin, and sometimes even Limerick is a bit problematic to get to, logistically speaking. And as for London, Paris, Berlin .... so many other distractions when I go on trips to those cities - but I do visit galleries when abroad. I can see works online, but I can't experience the impact that a large Rothko canvas can have ... one of these days I'll get to see those works for real. For now, though, it's online. Realistically I don't have time to view them properly any other way.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Delighted to announce over 30 thousand views!

Yep, over thirty thousand of you have visited my blog here, read the posts, looked at the pictures and the links, and ... then did whatever you usually do after you've visited a blog of someone you've never met, but whose blogs you may or may not find engaging, for whatever reason. You might think I'm mad, brilliant, ridiculous or all of the above. You might actually like my artworks. Which I hope is the case, and why many of you have returned.

You'll have excuse me. I've been reading Marion Keyes again. Her novels are so full of great, effortlessly chatty dialogue that it just spills over into whatever I end up writing.

Last time I looked at the flag counter, the most recent visitor was in the United Kingdom - greetings, neighbour! and the latest country was still Brunei. Now that 143 different countries have visited, it's possible we're running out of 'new' countries, hahahaha.

But seriously, I'm thrilled at this. I wouldn't get this exposure if I was in a traditional art gallery setting.

Oh, and to update you all on the Saatchi online thing - more paintings have been uploaded, but I have decided, for the purpose of being organised, to systemically go through ALL of my works on canvas, weigh them and measure them, and put the whole lot onto a spreadsheet, and think about a price for each piece. (Yes, I want to sell the originals. But as the maker of the works, I'll retain the copyright ....) Then, when I am ready to upload images onto the Saatchi website, I will also have the information to go with them.

Not sure yet what I want to do with all my large works on paper, would love to sell them as they are too, let the buyer sort out the presentation to suit their own setting. Or settings. Huh. Some grammar issue with that sentence. But however ....

Now, have I a picture to celebrate? Let me have a nose through my files ....

From the 2011 Sketchbook Project, # 18. Very intriguing, because for the life of me I can't remember what I wrote on the reverse.

And the inside of the forge, # 39. I didn't examine the old pile of stuff there too closely, it was a bit dark and there might have been rats .... eek. 

Thanks everyone for visiting, and thanks to those decided to follow, and thanks to those who have left comments. Until the next! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Right, well, the Saatchi Online Gallery portfolio is being redone ...

and it's available to view here. Still no prices or whatever up, but there will be soon.

It's going to take me a few days to get all the pieces up there, and I have to go sort out weights of the individual works, so that the cost of shipping them can be calculated. And I also have to look after tax stuff too, apparently this all takes place out of the US, so I have to sign something stating I'm not a resident of that country. I dislike the bureaucratic side of it, and so have to force myself to deal with it ... and I'm finding that it might not be that bad. The few I've uploaded are this one, and the two below.

Campo Dei Miracoli IV

Ten Minutes

I've loads more to upload, but need to do it during the night, when the internet is not so busy. Can't tonight, but maybe tomorrow night. 

I want to sell art not only because I have bills to pay, but also because I would like my other half to get the nice camera he wants. And by the way, his blogspot page is here, please do go and check him out. His photography is beautiful. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Greetings to viewers in other parts of the world

I just noticed now that the most recent viewer of my blog is in China, and the most recent new country is Brunei. I love it that my work is seen all around the world.

Thank you for visiting and looking, and thank you also for sharing my blog with your friends and family.

I am in the process of updating my Saatchi online page and sorting out the official stuff to sell original large-scale paintings on canvas. More about that when it's up and running.

I am also investigating, to sell small unframed works on paper, am as of yet undecided whether or not I'll go through with this. I'll keep you all posted.

Art can be many things, but for me it's sharing, it's friendship, it's story-telling, it's learning. It's also discipline, beauty, peace of mind, celebration. And it can feed into other activities.

Please keep visiting, keep sharing, and leave me the occasional comment. I moderate comments before posting them. :-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quote from Georgia O'Keeffe and Jeans

A couple of years ago I was messing around with things, as you do, and then I just put the experiments away - let's not get into the clutter issues of that right now please - and then I was sorting out paintings again and found them, most of which I now think are execrable, but I kind of like this one.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote and Jeans, 2011, mixed media and collage.

Experimentation is important. Yes, most of what you produce in experimentation is rubbish, but this is part of the process. You can always recycle what you find doesn't work. At the time I was playing with bits of old clothes, styrofoam, and quotations. And glue and paint. On MDF board. Come to think of it, I've had quite a bit of success with experiments on MDF board. Hm. 

What else have I been doing? Experimenting with writing. Stream of consciousness stuff. It's been kind of fun. Seems to be becoming a journey. I set myself one rule: I write until I have one thousand words written - and that's not actually very difficult. When I have one hundred times one thousand words, I'm going to set up another blog and post one of those texts up per week. You all can then read just how bonkers creative I am. It's going to be a while though. But a narrative has emerged. I will aim to be finished with it for Hallowe'en. Or even before. 

In the meantime, enjoy the visual. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

A photo of the worst storm in history, Ireland

Last Wednesday, 12 February, the lovely polar vortex paid us a visit in Ireland again, but this time with a vengeance. Heavy rain, sleet, and winds of 170 km per hour caused absolute mayhem throughout the country. Our power was gone for almost 24 hours, and we were one of the lucky houses that got it back the next day, my brother and his wife didn't get theirs back until last night Sunday. Then, after the power came back, the water went. Apparently the power outage caused pumps on the reservoir to stop working, and as a result the filtration wasn't the best either, so when the water did come back the next day, we were all on boil alert.

For the next few days, power and water both came and went a couple of times. Ironically, the ground was already saturated, because during the month of January, Ireland had SEVEN times the usual amount of rain for that month. And this in a country already famous for its rainfall amount. Naturally there was flooding, but kudos to the people of Cork for their great pictures of people swimming and kayaking on the flooded streets of the city, and even the classic shot of the kayaker going to the ATM to get money out. One of those classic 'it could only happen in ...' moments.

However, with the lack of a water supply coming into the house, it is only ironic that due to this heavy rainfall, the ground around my house was so saturated that the percolation area of the septic tank was flooded, so yeah, that's only getting back to normal today. Next house I live in will be on a hill.

But back to the storm - I couldn't do much except read, but as I was on my own in the house and nervously watching the trees that are in reasonably close proximity to the structure, I got my camera and got a few shots of the sleet on the window. Things are dire indeed if you can't see some beauty in them, no matter how terrible.

Am very glad that's over. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Two watercolour landscapes of Sicily

Normally when on holiday I tend to sketch the people, but the landscape of Sicily kind of got under my skin. It's pretty amazing. I got some photos, but my partner Dolf got many more, and much nicer. And he's the photographer in this house, that's for sure.

Prickly Pears, viewed from the patio of the Agriturismo place we stayed very near the village of Joppolo, which is quite close to Agrigento. I believe prickly pears are considered an invasive species, but you can eat the fruit, it's supposed to be very sweet and good. I was kind of fascinated by these plants. 

Sicily has loads of ancient ruins, and Segesta was the first lot we visited. It's located on two adjacent hills - one has the ancient Greek Temple, now with fencing around it because after nearly two millennia it's a bit unsteady, and on the opposite hill are the remains of a city, currently being excavated, and a Greek amphitheatre, with the most wonderful view of the valley below as the backdrop to the stage. Definitely worth visiting. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some details of the big painting

I've received some requests to post up some more detailed bits of my enormous painting Truth Universally Acknowledged, so here are a couple of them.

This detail includes a quote in the very middle there from the late Maeve Binchy's novel Scarlet Feather. One of the reasons why I like her work so much is because of the dialogue. Apparently Maeve Binchy liked to listen into strangers' conversations on public transport, and had an ear for a particular turn of phrase. The text in the two upper corners are collages of newspapers, probably the County version of the Limerick Leader

Another bit - and I really had to do the Photoshop thing to get the actual colours again, which was odd, but however - another collage from the newspaper, and then a quote in pencil 'must be {...} want of a'.  This is the quote from Jane Austen that I used to give the painting its name: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife', which is the opening sentence to the classic Pride & Prejudice

I also used quotes from Marian Keyes, Guus Meeuwis who is a Dutch songwriter, and a traditional Irish song. 

It's a big painting. If anyone wants to actually take this thing off my hands and off my kitchen wall, please come with lots of money, as artists DO have bills to pay.

And bring a big van. This thing is BIG. 

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

First post of 2014 - Paris and Porto

I have to say I miss travelling. But between economic circumstances and the acquisition of two adorable cats, travel is now on the back burner. But I do think about the places I've been to, and the people I've met. 

 This sketch was done in Paris, in the district of Jardin Des Plantes, which is not really on the beaten track, despite being within 20 minutes on foot from Notre Dame de Paris. It was lovely there, however. If we go back, I'll find us accommodation there.

These two drawings are from Porto, in the north of Portugal. There's a really nice market in the city, and I found it by chance while just wandering around, and across from the main entrance was this patisserie/bakery type of place, and when I looked closer I saw they had tables at the back and served little meals in there, so in I went, and spent a happy couple of hours sketching. Mirrors along the walls! So I could sketch the reflections, which was easier in the sense that I could see the faces, and also I wasn't making anyone self-conscious by staring at them.

While I think of it, I did a watercolour sketch on location in one of the parks in Porto of an elderly gentleman, and he was so kind as to hold the position for me, I just gave him the piece when I was done. 

I liked Porto. I liked the way the city wound along the banks of the river and on out to the sea, and the beaches there are magnificent. I'd go back, I'm not sure my Other Half feels the same way. 

Anyway, my plan for 2014 is to finish one art piece a week - it might not be a painting or a drawing, but that's the plan, finish one a week. I might end up working on several, but what harm. The work itself gets the subconscious and all the rest of it moving. 

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