Friday, May 6, 2016

Retinal Red

Pompeiin Still-life 92x122cm

My most recently painted ‘Pompeiian Still life’; named after perusing  Mary Beard’s book on ancient Rome, with its inclusion of 3 small but stunning images of wall paintings from Pompeii:  has recently set me on a crazy spree of cadmium- red- saturated- compositions. 
In my youth I fell in love with those Pompeiian red wall frescoes that decked the walls of those men and women that inhabited that fateful Roman town.  Fuelled, and kept alive and kicking by looking and studying modernist paintings such as Matthew Smith’s Nude, Fitzroy Street No1, 1916  and Matisse’s Red Studio 1911  
Mattisse Red Sudio

Matthew Smith Nude 

Over the years many of my paintings have fallen into this bracket of using Cadmium Reds to the point of no-return, hence no excuses for my latest one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Focus on Mirror-Mirror

Mirror-Mirror 46x46cm oil on canvas

A friend recently asked to use this image for a blog post she was putting up , on make-up and her relationship with it.  She inadvertently got where I was coming from when I painted this little 46x46cm oil painting, part of my Scheherazade exhibition 2013.  I was thinking of fairy tales and storytelling for my show, and combined my obsession with mirrors and how we perceive ourselves or more to the point our relationship with a very one-dimensional view of our face, fixed before our eyes, in reverse, and reflected back with all the distractions of dusty light beams, sheen from the mirror surface itself, and its constricted frame to name a few, that it’s crazy to think that this is all that we are, or think, that this is all there is to us.  We put so much into this interrogation, we can feel empowered and boosted up by what we see or in contrast we can hyper-obsess about what is not good or what is missing. A fraction of a cm here or a lift there and everything will be sorted.  It’s such a deeply feral relationship… a face… It must be something to do with survival and bonding, so that we can, as helpless babies, cement our links with the one who will keep us alive.  I was in hospital for a prolonged stay as a toddler and because I didn’t understand why I was there, I didn’t take to the experience very well, but I do remember a particular nurse or ward sister’s face.  She was like an angel to me, her balanced, warm-toned face was my anchor and I still feel connected to her in a deeply spiritual way.  So a face can be more than it seems.  So maybe this is one of the reasons that we can use a mirror to either ground ourselves in a reassuring glance, or interrogate our image in a critical way to see whether we are worth the love that we all seek.
Whatever is happening I am truly hooked and will always use my mirror to reference and catalogue who I am.  And as for make-up I think the make-up industry knows all, as by  supplying us with the aids to conceal, draw-in, redefine and of course colour in …. We are all endlessly absorbed and fascinated!!!  

Focus on The Pug and the Pea

The Pug and the Pea 71x71cm oil on canvas

I painted The Pug and the Pea for my 2013 Scheherazade exhibition.  I was looking at old Victorian and familiar childhood fairy tales as inspiration at the time and as the title to this painting suggests it is a pun on one of my favourites ‘The Princess and the Pea’.
This fairy story conquers up a visual feast, layer upon layer of mattresses and bedding piled high to conceal and disguise the crux of the matter: and that was, would the real princess feel the hard pea through all this fabric or would she be found out as an imposter.

I had previously painted a large painting with this title for my 2008 Chinoiserie exhibition.(see above)
The pug and the pea is a smaller painting than the original 152x122cm and it is square in format.  The thinking behind the dog substitute was quite simply that I had painted two paintings of my cairn terrier Maisie on this theme for the Chinoiserie show, where the dogs are sat on velvet cushions looking out at the viewer reminiscent of the china Staffordshire dogs, that I love so much.  So it seemed a natural development for me to pile up a few more cushions and repeat the composition and tempt a pug dog to see if he could detect a pea lurking beneath.

Maisie Blue and Yellow both  71x71cm oil on canvas

And a pug… well I do love pugs, even though I don’t own one (yet!!!) there was a special pug in my life when I was a young babysitter, living up the side of Carrigona mountain, Kilmacanogue with my neighbours  and their young family. This pug was such a pleasant happy fellow, a constant companion and happy telly watcher; he was such a comfort against the long evening vigil.
Pugs did feature quite a bit in my Scheherazade exhibition, from companion pets to replacing despotic Persian Kings, I make no excuses!!.. but the dogs bland, flattened features and well known  calm nature, helped me tone down the story telling side to these paintings which in turn helped to focus on my main objective i.e. the paint and composition… well that’s my story!!!

Secrets 122x92cm oil on canvas