Thursday, December 3, 2015

germinating an idea

Polytunnel 122x152cm oil on canvas

I have finally finished ‘Polytunnel’. A large canvas 122x152cm in oil.  This is the first of a new series of paintings, that I hope, will culminate in a solo show in a year or so.  I wanted to explore an outdoor/indoor theme and the garden or allotment, as subject matter is, so far, proving fruitful.  I have  just sent  this first painting off to The Doorway Gallery for Christmas . I am hoping to paint a few more large paintings before my next show, so I feel I can release this one for now.
I thought I would share a few words about this particular painting and to elaborate on some of processes that I used in creating it. 

I usually start out with a feeling of an idea that I muse over in my head, pondering whether it will be right for translating into a painting. Therefore, the seeds for this composition started to germinate this time last year.   In our polytunnel we always seems to have an abundance of very happy wild strawberry plants, that, and the odd cabbage. Here  I had my drawing material and conveniently undercover from the inclement weather, so  by early summer I had an outline of what I wanted to paint.

In studio working on final painting 
I had several versions that came and went, but I knew I wanted a centrally placed female figure either picking strawberries or harvesting fruit within the polytunnel with a dress based on my re-interpretation of the   William Morris’s Strawberry thief pattern.    I always work from my internal visual memory when it comes to the figures in my work, but I prefer to work from life for everything else, this is not always possible but either way the problem solving exercise to build up the composition takes many forms and references sources to get to the end point before I can start on the painting itself.  When It comes to painting I let the paint and colour lead and tell me how to proceed, as for me it is all about the tactile quality of the oil paint and the emotional response to colour, that is my main concern.  The illusional and story telling of the painting is for me its starting point and just a spring board to launch myself into the language and sensory magic of paint itself. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Questions and Answers!!

My solo show Recent Paintings 2015 is opening this week, and instead of asking some kind individual to do the honours, we have decided to have a informal introduction with Denise and Deirdre from The Doorway Gallery asking me a few questions about the work etc, and hopefully some questions from interested people that will be there on the day.
It is always quite difficult for me to put in to words what I am doing or trying to achieve with my work, as painting happens in the dynamic and is so much to do with the physical act of painting itself, its like trying to describe to someone how to drive a car, when you break down the process into seperate units it doesn’t really describe what is going on, because it is about using a multiple set of skills together in union, that over time have  become part of the sub-conscious.
Over the years, I have developed a style and subject matter that is specifically my own and expresses what I want to say when it comes to mood, colour, composition, perspective, texture, influences, and subject matter. And therefore I am quite clear on what I paint and how I paint it.  My subject matter is taken from my every day life and I can see repeated themes cropping up over again, in an inexhaustible need to create sense out of the random chaos of life.  I need security and a safe haven to exist in, and my paintings provide that calm resolve that seems so essential to my well being.  Colour for me is a vital part of my life, we all respond to colour in an emotional way, it creates a dialogue within us, and we react to it in all sorts of complex ways, but it is something we can’t ignore.  So as a painter I can use this innate quality of colour, as a tool in which to construct my compositions.  I have gained your attention by colour, then I will keep you looking as I take your eyes on a journey around my constructed space.  My edict is too never become formulaic, or slick, as I need to keep a high level of concentration up when I paint.   The feeling of free-falling that I often have when I start a painting creates the adrenalin I need, to bring that extra something to the work.   I love the 2-Dimensional surface of a canvas and I want to further enhance its decorative flat qualities rather than create pictorial illusion and space, which has never interested me.  That is why I disregard the rules of perspective, and twist and dominate it, so that it plays second fiddle to the flat surface of the canvas.

 I want to create very personal and individualistic paintings, that honour the beauty of colour and texture of paint, and I want to explore subject matter that has a relevance to me and that I  respond to emotionally.   I take inspiration from many eclectic sources either the people and objects and landspace around me, or a response to other historial paintings or objects of beauty that I come across through books, films, poems etc,.  I also love to take on the  challenge of recreating through paint, a mood or feeling that I want to further capture and hold.  Just my way of understanding what it is to be alive.
Spring Walk 150x61cm oil on board part of Recent Paintings exhibition opening Thursday 7th May 6-7.30pm

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sources 2015

girl with doll  52x46cm

'Source' is  a small collection of pre-exhibition paintings, they were painted prior to working on my main collection that make up my new solo show Recent Paintings 2015 which will be opening on Thursday 7th May at The Doorway Gallery, on Frederick St South, Dublin 2.

Head Scarf 20x15cm
 Last year, I had painted quite a few bright Russian textile inspired flower paintings that have been at The Doorway Gallery.  It   was while I was looking at this source material for my new solo show,  that I became intrigued with some late 19th Century photographs of exiled Khans, nomadic textile traders and Russian peasant girls dressed in beautiful traditional Ikat coats and ceremonial robes.
   As a result I painted this series of small oil paintings, which I am going to exhibit during the show as they help to further understand, how and why, I paint what I paint.

Walking Home 25x20cm
Fox fur 25x20cm
Little Fruit Seller 25x20cm
Ikat girl 25x20cm
Matryoshka Turquoise Vase 71x61cm

Matryoshka Amaryllis 71x61cm

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Yesterday I gathered all my new paintings together for a friend to look it was she had car-trouble and unfortunately couldnt make it down...  crest-fallen but not defeated, I took these photos of the paintings before I disbanded them back to the workshop for framing etc.  It was the first time I saw them all together in one room in lieu of my solo show coming up in May.  Thought I would share them with you!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


mitre cutter
It seems like ages now that I have been framing my paintings ready for my solo show in May this year.  My natural happy state is in my studio painting or planning a painting but preferably in the midst of a large colour- saturated composition that is demanding my full attention.  So I have to pull myself out of the paint screaming and kicking to focus on the framing and presentation that comes with exhibitions.  About 10 or more years ago I invested in some framing equipment so since then I have done all my own framing.   I was inspired to create my standard frame to date, from seeing a photograph of a  1913 Matisse exhibition where he had over-seen the framing and had chosen a simple limed-white frame instead of
Matisse's paintings from Morocco 1913

the ornate Baroque frames that I used to associate his work with.
  I try and keep as contemporary and simple as possible and I have kept the same frame more or less since I started making my own  ie a clean-edged slightly built up frame in limed wood or charcoal stained wood. 

paintings ready for show 2007

However this year I going to minimize the frame even more, by using a floating frame, ie a box frame with a slight gap between the canvas and the frame so that the canvas is emphasized rather than the frame. 
Baton-frame on The Invitation painting
Recent Paintings in workshop to be framed
I have been inspired to do this by a gallery owner in Amsterdam who is dealing with my work at the moment and who had a customer who wanted a very simple black baton around a painting she purchased.  I liked the way the simple frame intensified my colours even more and also highlighted the 2-Dimensional qualities of my work which under-pins my philosophy on painting.
Recent Paintings 2015 waiting for May

  So I have set my framing skills a task and it has been a learning curve, (polite way of saying I have been tearing my hair out) and very time-consuming but its all part of the process of producing paintings, so I am happy to do it.  But looking forward to a few weeks ahead when I can concentrate on some new painting ideas!!
 new floating frame Mount Usher Gardens from Tapestry collection 2011