Series or Obsession

IMG_2990IMG_2988IMG_2362IMG_2334DSC00399DSC00398A selection of studies and variations in many media inspired by a Ewart Johns painting that I was lucky enough to buy and now own. His painting is titled “Barbara lying on a coloured blanket”. I have posted several of these works individually on this blog before but I decided to feature them as a series to see how they view collectively.

The painting by Ewart Johns hangs on the wall of my bedroom and from there it has travelled into my depths.



Boy with terrier. (Ceramic)


Day 96.

The cocked head of a Jack Russell has a hilarious almost bewitching affect on me. To the extent that I’ve entered it into google to see if perhaps others are similarly entranced. To my surprise and further amusement the yield returned to me by request was multitudinous.

The tilt of the head the angle and the way the ears sit up it just gets to me. I freaking love it!

We had a few Jack Russells growing up. I have magical memories of them all. One as a tiny pup tucked inside my dad’s jacket on the bike out in Skerries. They agreed with us Jack Russells. They understood the family ways and rolled right in giving as good as they got.

Podge was a stalwart. A bright spark too. Hearing the reports about a serial killer in Milwaukee on the news signalled it was time for his evening stroll. He’d start wagging and looking up excitedly for  his lead as he did when we called walkies to him and who were we to refuse.

Most of all I loved the experience of coming home from school each day, getting off the number thirty at the entrance to Baymount Park and seeing him fly out the gate darting  rapidly dart down to meet me his back leg out a fetching idiosyncrasy that only added to the delightful welcome.

Female Torso. (Ceramic)


Day 95.

This is my almost life size sculpture of a female torso in its finished pre fired state. I was feeling ambitious at the time and had the desire to work in a large scale. I worked from a model and from photographs. I found it satisfying physically to work on a piece this size. The sense of wrestling with the material and with the form which that was achieved was wholly engrossing.

The clay changed its substance over the course of the modelling. From a firm and moist state at the initial stages it gradually hardened into a firm leathery material through the drying process. I particularly enjoyed slapping the surface to create structure. The material was tough and allowed me to test it with vigour.

The piece took a couple of months to sculpt a relationship between me and the work an external embodiment of myself in which I could channel my experiences into. This too was deeply gratifying.

Reclining figure (Ceramic)


Day 92.

My lounging  lady is a survivor. Due to there being trapped air inside the piece it was badly damaged during firing. It split into several pieces but I salvaged two main portions which I put back together and for glazing and final firing. Due to the fine nature of the piece the risk of damage in firing was highly possible.

I am glad I restored what I could of the figure. The crack through the middle has done little to diminish the overall result. The edges where the legs were blown away provide an interesting textural contrast to the smooth curves plus the final dimensions appeal visually to me more than did the original complete figure.

Perhaps it was fate as I was excessively attached to what I saw as my beautiful flawless creation.

Day 92.

Seated figure (Ceramic)


Day 55.

My seated figure lounging by the kitchen window. She looks well by the light.

This piece is more experimental than my other ceramic works. It is the product of two methods. I started out with by carving from without into a somewhat hardened lump of clay. The way stone sculptors work. Envisioning the piece inside the rock or marble and in my case lump of solid clay.

It was a fresh approach once again I found a new method that helped to distance myself from the end result and I was able to immerse myself fully in discovering  what I could do and what the clay would allow me to do.

At a certain point I had to change tactic as the material was not firm enough to allow carving at the outer and finer parts e.g. the limbs. But the new method of working resulted in a totally different type of figure and form than I would have created by building in the conventional way.

The piece has a pleasing abstract quality to it an there is a good jagged muscularity to the pose.

Girl bathing (Oil pastel)


Day 54.

This is a drawing I did a long time ago. It is an early attempt at using oil pastels. My handling of the material is crude and in places very messy but I can also see that I was being bold and free in applying the colour despite the lack of technique.

I was working from a Degas print. There are many errors in the pose, in the perspective and the foreshortening yet the work bears a strong impression of life, of toil and also a sense of weight. There is a clumsiness to the pose that suggests innocence as well as intimacy. A private moment.

What I like about this most is that is demonstrates my enjoyment in mixing colours. Whether the madness of my approach is with or without method the effect of my efforts demonstrates an appreciation, enthusiasm and aptitude for pigment and hue.

Figure in repose (Ceramic)


Day 47.

There are a few things I’ve done that I am wholly satisfied with and this piece is one of them. This and a couple of other things I feel I wouldn’t do differently, and have no reservations about. I feel pride enough to think that no matter when in the future if they were dug up or discovered that me or whatever if anything exists of me at the date I’d still feel the same.

It is a nice feeling to have.

I made this about ten years ago. I was having a rough time and going to the the studio on the winter evenings helped to keep me going. I don’t recall my thoughts while I worked on it it was more a case of to just keep doing it, the action became the thinking if that makes any sense.

The project absorbed  a great deal of the stress and anguish that I was in at the time. It went into the material through my hands and with work and the continuos showing up each week a form was made.

It was as if I was not doing the making but rather it was being made through me. An  alchemical process. Matter transformed with mystery. I was hugely surprised with the finished result. I had definitely worked hard on it but not in the way I had previously understood.