Backyard (Mixed media)


Day 14.

I spent seven months in Malaga last year. While I was there I did a lot of writing and a fair bit of drawing and painting too. Southern Gothic was also painted by myself in this wonderful City. Times were hard and my resourcefulness came into play. I collected boxes and boards to paint on. There were plenty of stores discarding packaging about so I helped myself to what I figured might work. It freed me as there was a steady supply.

Malaga I’ll always remember as the city of palm trees. Giant tall palms stretching up up into the impossibly blue skies above making happy homes for parakeets who nest in them in large numbers. Bright green noisy fellas that are hard to spot but impossible not to hear. I was enchanted by them and through observance noticed that they like to come down and feed from the ground on grass seeds I suspect each afternoon at around 4pm.

Birds and palms played a big part during my Spanish sabbatical and naturally they made their way onto my creations.

This work is a study in oil pastels and acrylics of my back garden. A haven for birds and so  a haven for me. I spent hours just sitting and staring out that window feeling grateful. I won’t describe it how it looked as that is what the picture is for.

The strengths in the piece are the contrasting textures and the bright harmonious colours. I took the palette from the natural scene and embellished it with an impressionist splash of fiery red. Perhaps the Andalucian spirit was in me

I see plenty of flaws in it too. The perspective is off. Buildings are things I’ve always struggled with, even in photography I can’t make them look right. That blackbird up on the wall is a bit of a turkey too but for all that it still portrays a little the magical experience of being a Malageno. It has the feeling.


Southern Gothic (Acrylics)


Day 13.

Another painting.

A figurative work also inspired very closely from the work of another artist. The original painting was in a wonderful  museum in New Orleans. Ogden Museum of the Southern Arts. A captivating venue filled with rich and inspiring treasures. It held a great deal of folk art which I adore art of the region I was deeply moved by my visit and would highly recommend visitors to the city to tap the into such an incredible resource. I often find art museums to be staid sterile experience this one had a decidedly different effect on me there. The building felt alive with stories and energy.

I took several photographs from my visit. It was inspiration overload.

I made this painting from a photo of a very powerful painting in that same museum. It stayed with me and I returned to the photo many times until eventually I felt the need to paint it myself.

This was my first canvas. Bought on the cheap in Tiger along with some cheap acrylic paints and brushes. The painting took several days. I enjoyed working on it a great deal.

I made a good fist of getting the colours I wanted early on and managed to recreate them again on subsequent days to a satisfactory degree.

The image both my version and the original is of a dark nature. The figures are solemn and the female on the right is ghostly a scary lady as my niece described her. A different outsider Gothic America.

It also speaks to me of a famous Irishman his wife and beloved daughter. I see James Joyce and Lucia in the pair on the left and in the spirit of Nora apart from them.

Here is my painting at a very early stage


And here is the original work. Sadly I did not take note of the artist. If anyone happens to chance by here and know of this work I’d hugely appreciate the artist’s name and the title of the work.


Reclining figure 2. (Acrylic)


Day 12.

Moving from pastels into painting by means of a variation of the same work. This is from a painting I made of the drawing as shown in yesterday’s post reclining nude( pastel). A reinterpretation of my own take on the work of another. I photographed the full painting and then cropped it down to just the face which works well as an image in itself. The result I would describe as semi abstract in style

Through the use of different a media and a variety of methods media I ended up with a very lovely work which was far from what I started out doing. This is the product of exploration and development reached after a number of stages.

The colours are very powerful. The rich contrast of warmer reds and yellows in their primary tones set against the blue and green light against dark has a pleasing harmony. The partial black outline creates balance of tone and form between the face and the background.

I like how there is a lovely watery quality to the brushstrokes reminds me of paint dissolving in water through a glass. I have an idea that I would love to make a screen print of this image on vey fine fabric the watery quality lends itself to fine translucent material. Maybe some day I will.

Reclining Nude (Pastels)


Day 11.

This is a study I made of a painting I bought myself. The very first original painting I’ve ever bought. The original is beautifully striking. It was hanging up on the wall in a charity shop in Highgate and I instantly knew I had to have it and so I did. It hung for 3 years in my tiny studio in London and now I sit looking at it on the wall opposite my bed here in Dublin.

I feel exactly the same about it as I do when I first saw it.

I like it for so many reasons the original the colours are wonderful vibrant and energising. My rendition of the image in the above example, I have made several versions is close to the ordinal in the colour scheme. I was restricted to ready made colours from a box of pastels turquoise limes contrasting reds and oranges have eastern flavour to them.

I love the original as it is flawed the perspective is off in the body the planes of the woman are inconsistent for example the hips are almost vertical while the her torso is flattened and more horizontal. It doesn’t take from the exquisite effect of sublime relaxation and warmth of the overall image. I always find that perfection lies in the flaws. Its paradoxical but that is how I see the world.

My version is a little different. I’ve drawn the figure in a more angular fashion. I have given her more amazonian physique. It is interesting to see how one’s interpretation of another artist’s work what I brought into it that wasn’t already there.

The subject matter and the composition I kept it is the rendering of it that makes it quite different.

I’ve included a tiny fragment of the original here below. IMG_1130

Meteorite (Pastels)


Day 10.

Simple drawing of a bull in the night alone under a large bright star. I was playing with colour and motif here.

The bull’s heart is as big as the star.

Flash of energy and motion in the picture the tail flying the motion stripes give a certain dynamism to the image.

The bull, a symbol of masculine power is shown here with his heart ablaze.  Contrast of elements bull shown solid and earthly next to a single cosmological entity.

Childlike five-pointed drawing of the star appears massive it could be a shooting star a meteorite about to fall with the bull’s heart bursting out from its chest.

The basic crude quality of the picture lacks a great deal but there isbeginning of a story in it. If other elements had been present  the integration between land and skyIt suffers as there not enough of interest for the eye to feed on. There is too much bull, no context no sense of place to hold it which flattens the image.

I think the colours work nicely together I see an the atmosphere that is dark but not forbidding.

It is a good exercise to post work that I am not wholly satisfied with. It is a challenge but gets me to examine my work with some detachment while seeing how I could improve It  also serves in helping me to accept that some creations work better than others.

Untitled (Pastels)


Day 9.

This I’d describe as a semi abstract imaginative composition. It features a city scape with burning buildings in a sinister ominous apocalyptic scene.

At first I drew in the crow naturalistically and added in the setting afterwards. I often work that way, I take a motif which inspires a mood or feeling and work in the mood freely  until I feel I’ve hit a balance. It is a delicate process and many works created in this way are yet unfinished perhaps because they are a process of a state and the work stop when the state passes. Sometimes though the state allows for a complete execution on the page and when this happens it feels like magic.

There is a dreamlike quality to some of the pictures I’ve created using this method. As in a dream elements are distinct and recognisable and others less so but hold more of a feeling quality to them. I like blending and fusing the lines between semi naturalism and abstract drawing.

Crows represent the harbingers or sentinel  to me. They are also scavengers. I used to walk on Hampstead Heath a lot where the crows would gather in hundreds at dusk signalling it was time for me to head home. It was thrilling and haunting to hear their cries in such large numbers as the park emptied out.

They are a highly intelligent specie full of mythic and symbolic qualities of a dark and knowing variety.

There are some graphic elements to the picture also. The buildings are drawn in a comic book style. I used some experimentation imaging a Gotham scape in my minds eye to help me and  surprisingly it achieved the desired result.

Roses and avocado (Pastels)


Day 8.

I think I will continue with my series of pastels for the next few days all of which were done over the course of my stint in London. I was limited to working in a very restrictive space. Setting up in a small room, with a small table and shortage of surface area for materials required ingenuity and determination.

When not drawing from my imagination I’d often turn to the every day objects around me for inspiration. The simple composition of a vase of roses and a piece of fruit is a traditional one. I added the avocado to the scene to add balance and to create a sense of contrasting textures,  the softness of the petals against firm fruit .

I worked quickly varying the pressure of the pastels against the paper to create depth and form. I paid attention to the direction of my marks to indicate perspective and to the fall of the petals,

I did minimal marks for the vase, a complex vintage cut glass affair in a subtle shade of rose. The simplicity is effective, the impression of the vase is achieved in an unfussy manner.

Blending was problematic I find I’d muddy the work by smudging it with my hand and muddy it further in my attempt to resolve it. This is something I can work in in the future and perhaps study the work of others in this medium.  There are inconsistencies in the application of the blue background; the visible joins and criss crossing of the markings draws attentions away from the subjects and is also something to pay attention in the future.

It was fun working with my new materials the chalk pastels and buff hued textured cartridge paper. I was very conscious in keeping it light. It was a beautiful summer’s day and I must say I managed to create a bit of sunshine in the picture.