Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Show at The Doorway Gallery

my flower paintings going up the stairs

My paintings in the hall at The Doorway Gallery
Deirdre, me and Denise
I dropped by The Doorway Gallery 24 South Frederick St, Dublin 2,
to have a glass of mulled wine and a few tasty mince-pies, and of course a look at their Christmas Show.  It looked so inviting and Christmassy and thats just the outside with wreaths of holly berries and pine cones bedecking the Georgian red front door and railings.  Denise and Deirdre have done a wonderful job of themeing the show by colour, so my paintings were teamed with Bob Lynn's and Karen Wilson's so as you can image they bounced off the wall and looked fantastic together.
I also loved Jock Nichol's small landscape and Christy Keeney's interiors.
Well worth a visit and there is lots more paintings downstairs.
The show goes on until January 30th 2014.
Christy Keeney
Jock Nichol

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scheherazade Sketch-book

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Over my career as a painter, I have built up a considerable collection of  hard-backed black sketch books, I seem to get through two a year. They are strange animals, full of working drawings, ideas, words, poetry and stuck in visual information squirrelled from various sources; to aid inspiration, create moods and document ideas.
When I was a student I found the whole process quite unnatural and I was self-conscious about working in sketch books as if an imaginery critic was looking over my shoulder.  But I got over all that and now I see them objectively.
  Of course they are going to be very personal and consciously na├»ve by their very nature.  But that is their strength, sketch books are personalized visual diaries, they are the artist’s reference material, full of coded visual information.  They are a means to an end:  hopefully a painting or two!   My sketchbooks are well thumbed, and usually covered in paint, as I often bring them into my studio and prop them up near at hand when I am painting.  They give me clues and annotated instructions and help to guide me, as I compose and paint my pictures.

My sketch book is my visual diary, but it is also another vital part of the painting process, so I am posting up a few of my recent sketch book pages that I used when I was painting  my solo exhibition, Scheherazade, which is now showing at The Doorway Gallery, 24 South Fredericks Street, Dublin 2., for the rest of November. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mermaid- Scheherazade exhibition

Mermaid 92x76cm oil on canvas

Lying here having woken
from a time-freeze-state
of empty sleep
My body has sunk into the mattress
and become one with the floor.
I move a little and twist
away from the drip-drip
of sweat that is
falling from my sternum
down into the bed
My whole body including
my eyelids
Are sluiced with a layer
of filmy water
A new skin-gloopy and complete.
‘I am a mermaid’
‘I am a mermaid’
my feet say
as I direct them over
the side of the bed.
Together they stay
as they implant themselves
into the black wasteland
of the carpet.
I rise up tall
glistening and glowing
like a dying ember-
into the dark corridor
and the chill air
as I evaporate into
the night.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Paintings to preview- The Invitation

The Invitation 122x92cm oil on canvas

All the paintings for my forthcoming solo show Scheherazade are now at The Doorway Gallery for preview.  The exhibition runs from  the 7th November to the 28th November  and I am delighted to have Pat Kenny  kindly doing the honours of officially opening the show on Thursday the 7th between 6-8pm.   We will be sending out the invitations over the next week or two, if you are interested in coming along just contact The Doorway Gallery at 01 7645895 or email at 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Scheherazade exhibition of paintings

Mirror-Mirror 46x46cm oil on canvas

Its not long now until the opening of my solo show ‘Scheherazade’ at The Doorway Gallery  The show will be opening on the 7th November and will run throughout the month until the beginning of December.
I have worked and lived with this collection of paintings for over a year now and it really does take that long to get them where I want them, before I feel confident that they are finished. 

Picking Bilberries 92x76cm oil on canvas

I have put together a collection of around 20-25 paintings, that imbue a similar colour palette and subject matter. A world of the ordinary with an undercurrent of story telling and mystery, that brings into the work a timeless connectivity to worlds gone by .  I like to layer and weave references to other eras and cultures, for example the painting Picking Bilberries, which reads as a seasonal painting of a woman harvesting wild bilberries growing on top of a  dry stone wall.   I was influenced by a Roman wall painting at the time and conveyed that in the dress and hair of the figure.  I am also enjoying here the references to the edge of  the wood, with those cautionary childhood fairy tales in mind. Another edge of the wood painting is ‘Mossy Pillow’, this painting was inspired by visiting my mum who was moving yet again and  looking through a trunk of old photos from her childhood.  It was a rare one of her looking so blissfully happy and beautiful holding up her pet dachshund surrounded by her beloved father, mum and younger sister. For me it was so poignant because her family broke up later, with  her father moving to South Africa, leaving her broken hearted. 

Mossy Pillow  92x76cm oil on canvas
For this show I was looking at Mogul decorative art and patterns , as can be seen in the large still life ‘Fisherman’s Table’.  This painting is a very round about interpretation of the fairy tale The Fisherman and his Wife.  This is my favourite fairy tale from my childhood and I have always been fascinated by it. It  really resonated with me as a child and continues to do so, to me it illustrates a deep sense of fundamental moral truth.  Too late for the property speculators and over indulgent  banks,  I think. 

Fisherman's Table  92x102cm oil on canvas

I have reintroduced my pug from the Rococo exhibition, and for some strange reason he seems to have taken the place of the Persian King  in the painting ‘Scheherazade’, well that’s artistic licence for you. 
Scheherazade  92x102cm oil on canvas
To me, the pug breed, embodies laid back confidence and charm, nothing like the neurotic maniac that the story actually describes, but there again this is a perfect example of how my work is not illustrative and the subject matter is a means to an end for me.  All these approaches to getting a body of work together are devices that provide me with a starting point and scaffolding on which to finally get down to what really painting is all about for me, and that is manipulating colours and paint around a two dimensional surface until they look and feel right.  And how do I know when a painting is finished.  Well its as simple as one day walking into my studio and realizing that I don’t have to repaint any particular passage, that is screaming out for me to change, one day it just rests well on the eye and I can then look at it objectively and then I know I can do no more for it and I move on to the next one. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Painting stolen

Still life with Olive Oil  oil on canvas  61x71cm
Just posting up an image of this painting that was recently stolen from a Foxrock Gallery Co. Dublin.  
any info much appreciated. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rose Red and Snow White donated to Crumlin's Childrens Hospital

I have put up this video that helps explain the thinking behind my recent painting Rose Red and Snow White.  I am in the process of donating the painting to Crumlin's Childrens Hospital.  Thank you to Becky from Sparrow and Gray who put the video together for me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Scheherazade 2013

snow white and rose red  oil on canvas 72x96inches
I am currently working on a series of paintings for a solo show in November of this year.  I usually theme my work loosely around a title.  This helps me set the scene and mood for a series of connected work that hopefully will reinforce my ideology and theory behind  painting.  It sounds all very premeditated and grown up but it feels very far from that for me.  I find the whole business of creating paintings illogical and chaotic, its like trying to put loose feathers into a pillowcase; you know what you want to achieve and you know what you have, to achieve it: but the actual doing of it seems at first an impossible task, but as the work progresses, you get inspired by getting through each hurdle and the comforting knowledge that you have achieved it before and so the confidence builds as the work emerges and starts to feed back clues and information on how to proceed to the finish.  So for me building work around a theme is one way of controlling the endless possibilities and keeping the work on some sort of intellectual track.
For this upcoming show I am using the working title Scheherazade.  In itself, it is a great looking word, even though I can’t pronounce it!!  Of course it is the Arabian tale of the princess  Scheherazade who has to make up an elaborate and absorbing story for the King, who having been cuckolded by a previous wife, has lost his confidence in relationships and so like every story-book King must do, having spent one night with his new bride, has them executed.  Scheherazade however is a realist and has an imagination, and so imbarks on her 1001 nights of Arabian tales, and so seals her fate of living a long and married life. 

I have always felt a deep connection to the old fairy tales of my childhood in the  Grimm's and Anderson's gruesome stories of dysfunctional families set in deep dark forests.

I started work on this show last summer, with a huge 6 foot by 8 foot canvas, the largest I have worked on to date.  The subject was Snow white and Rose Red, two sisters who live with their mother in a cosy cottage at the edge of a forest, and where one stormy night they hear a knock on the door and open it to a huge grisly bear faint with fatigue and hunger.  They of course, after their initial surprise and horror, take him into to the bosom of their home and later when he turns back into the handsome prince that he always was, he marries one of the sisters.
flowers and butterflies 36x30 inches 
The colours in this painting are very like some of the work in the Walled Garden collection as there was a lot of follow through.
 However in Scheherazade  I am trying to introduce a warmer palette of stronger reds and yellows and the rest of the exhibition reflects this, as can be seen with' Fishermans Still life'. 
Fisherman's Still life  92x102cm
I decided to compositionally divide' Rose Red and Snow White'  down the middle and use this line of symmetry to balance each side out by creating cross links between the two halves of the painting with diagonal lines and colour- echoing.  Each side  works as an independent painting so as to enable the viewer to take in the imagery in a more accommodating scale.  The face of the bear in the centre of the painting is sort of unsettling and weird but its what I wanted to achieve, a slight threat to the domestic scene inside, however to subdue the intense impact of his voyeurism I painted him in monochromes  very near to the ground colour.

My other paintings in this collection have explored other fairy tales such as Cinderella, the Fisherman and his wife and the Little Mermaid, but as always with my subject matter the literal story telling is definately second place to  the colour, design and composition of my work, which is where my heart lies.