Flesh tones; inspiration by the Great Masters at the newly refurbished National Gallery of Ireland

Detail from Head of a Bearded Man by Peter Paul Rubens

I am working on a painting at the moment. Experimenting with oils. By painting I mean realist, representational painting from life. It is a return to a childhood ideal.

As a teenager and even a child, my vision of what I thought attending art college would be like, was unbeknownst to me, already extinct. I had visited the National Gallery of Ireland as a child. Standing in awe before Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ, I could feel that art was powerful. I needed to be involved in this alchemy. I wanted to learn to create it. I imagined, after school, I would attend something like, what was once The Metropolitan School of Art. There would be easels and drawing classes. There would be artists.

Art college was different from what I expected. I studied Graphic Design and Art and Education in the end. Learned plenty but something was missing. I practiced life drawing in my evenings and free time. Recently at a loose end, I tried oils. I didn’t know how to use them but from the moment I picked up a piece of oil paint and placed it on the canvas, I knew, there is magic here. No other medium will ever compare. It holds a richer and bolder quality than anything I have tried. And as much as I enjoy the graphic side of my work there is a realness to oil that no computer screen or camera can quite live up to.

I understand and believe we reside in an era of a New Renaissance. It is evident in every arena. Where once stood Galileo Galilei , we now explore space. Where Leonardo Da Vinci excelled in engineering, we are speeding ahead with technology. Science, music, theatre, film, literature and art are evolving. To progress the field of visual art we can look to the Old Masters as those in the Renaissance looked to Ancient Greece and Rome. It is my opinion that we must build on this past mastery and raise the standard of art here in Ireland. The National Gallery of Ireland is one place to start.

In order to better understand how Masters like Rembrandt and Rubens approached painting flesh tones, I returned to the place that inspired me as a child, the now recently refurbished National Gallery of Ireland. The NGI is stunning. Below are some studies from todays visit, concerning skin tones. It is wonderful the variation and wide spectrum of colour used to paint skin especially the unexpected colours like violets, greens and greys.

Detail from Lady Gregory by William Orpen

Detail from John Count McCormack by William Orphen

Detail from The Dead Ptarmigan by William Orphen

   Detail from Portrait of Henry Shefflin by Gerry Davis

Detail from Portrait of Philippe Roettiers by Nicolas de Largilliere

Full portrait 

Detail from Lady holding a glove by Rembrandt van Rijn

 

Image of the full portrait

I was especially drawn to the depiction of hair in this detail from Thomas pooley’s Sir Phillip Perceval

As above

Detail from Jupiter and Ganymede by Nicolaes van Helt Stockade

Detail from Saint John  the Baptist in the Wildereness attributed to Michele Desubleo

Detail from The Penitent Magdalene by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Bretonne by Roderick O’Conor

The Grand Gallery at the NGI

These images are a point of reference for my portrait studies but are best enjoyed in real life. A visit to the National Gallery is a must.

Paul James Shares his Artistic Process at The Sol Gallery

Menagerie-a solo show by artist Paul James, opened at the Sol Gallery on Thursday last, June 15th. The show was officially opened by Marty Whelan.

Paul James is a leading contemporary animal and landscape realist painter. His work is sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts worldwide. He is renowned for the skill and craftsmanship with which he depicts the fine detail and realism of the many textures portrayed within his imagery.”

Paul’s painting take a very long time to execute from start to completion. The works are very rich and detailed. They are paintings best appreciated by viewing in person.

“Tagging Along”

“This is typical of what Paul would witness whilst travelling on his narrow boat through the inner city inland waterways of Britain.  In fact it was just such a scene as this that inspired the first of what has become Paul’s urban series.  He’s almost gone full circle with this particular painting  of Canada Geese strutting along the towpath ‘Tagging Along’ together.”

At the opening night Paul took us on a step by step journey through the artistic processes employed during the creation of “Tagging Along”.

He began this painting with a charcoal sketch of the four Canadian Geese

Paul explains he used a grid system. You can see the square grid here on his slide. He decided four geese were too many and the painting only required a composition of two and the urban graffiti background.

In this step he show where he has added more detail to the goose in the foreground. You can see the measuring lines beside the second goose here. He is trying to decide proportionally what size the second goose should be if it is behind the first.

You can see traces of the other geese here. He faithfully maps in a brick wall. He explains that it is important to get the geometric perspective correct here.

When he begins painting, after the composition is worked out, he works from background to foreground. He paints the graffiti wall first, next the back ground goose and then the foreground goose. The graffiti in the painting is actual graffiti that exists as opposed to invented material.

This slide shows him at work in his studio.

In the extreme foreground he went back in with his charcoal to sketch in some Canadian drinks and paints these in.

See this and many more of Paul James’ work at the Sol gallery. Originals and prints are available for purchase. Menagerie runs until 29th June 2017.

 

The story behind the winking playing card on the canal

Photo credit Instagram: @bmv_20th_century_boy

Each Summer Dublin Canvas pours it’s kaleidoscope of colour across Dublin city.  Traffic light boxes are adorned with a rainbow of public artworks and our city becomes a wonderful outdoor art gallery curated by David Murtagh. An exciting group of exceptional artists are painting again this Summer and I am honoured to be counted among them.

Tomorrow morning you might spot Queen Ester winking at you, from her corner at Canal Road / Grove Road, near Rathmines bridge.  Ester was originally designed from my degree show, storytelling by choosing two elements from my childhood, namely Mass and memories of Daddy playing card games.

Ester is a biblical story from the Old Testament. At the time a graphic designer I chose to tell the story using the medium of re-appropriated playing cards. She is a queen with a kind heart, a dangerous secret and a precarious plan.

Photo credit Instagram: @cristinlarkin

 

In the story, Ester is a poor girl but chosen by the king of Persia for her beauty. The King passes a law to “exterminate” all of the Jews in his lands. Brave and kind Ester hatches a dangerous plan to save her people. She herself is secretly a Jew. Hoping the king will avoid the bad PR of having to kill his queen, she reveals that she is Jewish, forcing the hand of the king to revoke the cruel law. Her plan is as precarious as a house of cards.

       

She plays a dangerous game, gambling with her own life. On the canal Ester winks and shares her secret plot with passers-by. Secret codes and symbols are hidden in her image.

  

The painting process employed, is that similar to screen printing or reduction block or lino print. This design uses only 4 colours yellow, red, blue and black.* Each colour is applied separately and in order from light to dark. It was fun to work on, especially on a glorious day like today.

Yellow is primarily applied

Next some red

The blue is put down

And finally voilá, the darkest colour, black

I actually did the back and sides before the face:

You can look forward to more Dublin Canvas art popping up all over the city in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the website and follow on Instagram for more pics of all the work.

Photo credit Twitter handle:

A little behind the scenes stencil cutout

*yes, I know, I cheated. I decided to pop on a bit of green paint marker on the stem of the flower at the 11th hour but hey.

 

 

 

 

Some of the highlights from The 187th Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition.

They say what you learn in the classroom at school isn’t relevant or useful in real life. But what of all those drawings of your shoe in art class? Or the classmate posing for your 30 minute sketch? Art is timelessly relevant and evidently so at the 187th Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition.
Opened tonight, Monday 22/05/17, the show is diverse, awe inspiring and exhilarating. Here are some of the many highlights to enjoy during your visit.

From the deep, rich yet muted, jewel tones of Hollis Dunlap‘s “Man in Violet and Green” [124], the lively pallet of Peter Bradley‘s Carousel [47],  the sobering subject matter and social conscience of Jack Hickey‘s “Apollo’s Calling” [214] or the glorious hyperrealism of Blaise Smith‘s gleaming “China” [485] there is something to captivate every audience.[124] [Also the catalogue numbers, if you need a reference to purchase]

[47]

[214]

[485]

You can almost hear the crash of the Atlantic Ocean and taste the surf, standing before Donald Teskey‘s imposing “Ocean Memory” [505] In fact, I don’t know if it is the Atlantic. I am a girl from the West of Ireland and might assume or simply relate. Colin Davidson‘s “Portrait of John Hume” [99]  has a lesser heavy but equally steely blue and grey pallet and raw energy about it, even as it portrays a still moment.

[505][99]

The academic accuracy and expertise evident in Nicholas Benedict Robinson‘s “Hathaya R” [438] make you want to paint as much as you can for as long as you can. Don Niccolo Caracciolo Award and Medal winner and personal art hero of mine Catherine Creaney‘s “With Flowered wallpaper” [86] is another staggering feat in realist portraiture. As is the enviable skill and talent of Kyle Barne‘s  showing his ‘Man with Blue Ears” [6] portrait and winner of The Whyte Award.

[438]

 [86]

 [6]

There is something very confident about showing a drawing. But when you are, as accomplished an artist as William Nathans, the expertly executed “Micheal” [363] serves not only as a stand alone piece but almost as a trailer for his paintings. A teaser that entices you to want to see even more of his work. Speaking of trailers, like many artists, I enjoy paintings and sculptures of skulls. I will admit, Jason Ellis‘s works “Macrocephalus I & II [136] are all the more enjoyable having seen Alien Covenant recently.

I haven’t even yet mentioned Mick O’Dea’s portrait of “Michael D. Higgins” [385] or another of Blaise Smith’s works, the wonderful and I’ll venture controversial “Eight Scientists” [482] Winner of The Ireland – US Council and Irish Arts Review Portrait Award. I haven’t mentioned going to the bar to find Conor Walton‘s sunset coloured “An Ape’s Limbs Compared to Man’s” under the stairs. But there are many I haven’t mentioned. And my quickly taken snaps from my phone do not do these pieces of art justice. The exhibition runs from May 23, 2017 – August 12, 2017. Go to see it. Be inspired. Keep drawing.

[363]

[136][385]

 [482]

Oscar Wilde
“every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.”

Conor Walton “An Ape’s Limbs Compared to Man’s”

Colin Harris “The Birth of Venus” [202]

My Top 5 Events to Celebrate National Drawing Day this May 20th 2017

“Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.” Salvador Dali

Tomorrow is National Drawing Day and here is the round up of some of the best events to attend as part of it. I have saved the best for last.

5. At number 5, The School House for Art in Enniskerry have a full schedule of events all weekend and all are absolutely free. Which is very generous, considering the School House run  courses year long and this is their main business. Get in touch on 01 286 9594 or schoolhouseforart@gmail.com

4. My old stomping ground Limerick hosts it’s own fun event: “Create a Character with Mark Heng” at The Hunt Museum  in which you’ll create a portrait of your own imaginary character while learning about anatomy and drawing fundamentals. Check out their Facebook event page here. 

3. Join artist Janine Davidson at one of my favourite galleries The Hugh Lane to celebrate National Drawing Day. From 1pm on Saturday she holds a workshop “Inspired by our current exhibition Port Life: Eugeen Van Mieghem, we will experiment drawings from 2D to 3D landscapes exploring a variety of materials and different perspectives that will bring to life a maritime scenery on the paper surface”
Free – No booking required.

2. The Kingdom will celebrate National Drawing Day 2017 at Kerry County Museum Practicing artists Roisin McGuigan takes participants on visual exploration of the intriguing flint artefacts excavated at Killaclohane Portal Tomb, Milltown Co. Kerry

Date: Saturday 20 May
Times: 11am-11.45am (family session 1)
12noon – 12.45pm (family session 2)
2pm-2.45pm (over 16s session 1)
3pm-3.45pm (over 16s session 2)

Duration: 45 minutes + 15 minutes Q&A
Cost: FREE
Group size: 12 per session (no booking; first come first served)

  1. Saving the best for last, at The National Gallery have a full list of events on the day but whats catching my attention is, childhood drawing hero of “Draw With Don” fame (yes my sister had the book and yes I drew every single page) Don Conroy competes in a lunchtime Art Battle from 12.30pm-2pm. Fatti Burke is his worthy competitor and the public decide the winner. Hashtag your drawing tomorrow with #NationalDrawingDay. I’ll be in The Winter Garden’s cheering on Don. See you there
  2.  

A pop up art gallery next to a hipster coffee shop. This is the new and exciting Harold’s Cross.

When I moved to Harold’s Cross, a full decade ago, to work as packaging designer for Neworld Associates, HXC had little to boast of. This evening La Galerie Impromptu, a pop up exhibition space in Harold’s Cross, hosts the opening of artist Dave Gleeson’s “Portraits”. The pop-up gallery is sandwiched neatly between The Workx salon and what is becoming a fast favourite, FivePoints cáfe.

You may be familiar with Dave Gleeson’s work, having spotted it on the top floor of the St. Stephen’s Green Centre. Over the weekend Dave will show a series of his incredibly detailed drawings as part of The Harold’s Cross Festival.

Dave’s inspiration came from his love of music. He grew up close to The National Stadium on The South Circular Road. He would often race home from school to see his favourite rock-stars setting up or having a sound-check ahead of their concert.

This childhood experience, observing the musician’s in their everyday life as opposed to their public persona,  is reflected in Dave’s work. We are used to seeing these superstars strutting their guitar-hero onstage pose, said Dave. But these portraits hold a uniqueness. He conveys the stars in their private moments, off duty enjoying a cup of tea in Bewley’s or strolling pasted the Olympia Theatre. The exhibition is curated by artist Eoin MacLochlainn. You can follow his art story on his blog Scéalta Ealaíne.

Next door you can grab, arguably one of best coffees in Dublin, ahead of the opening.  FivePoints have given their hipster exposed brick wall to exhibit the photography of Esther Moliné, in keeping with the artisic theme.

It also houses, the kept secret sun terrace in Dublin. With Santorini-eque white walls, these recent blue skies as a back drop, it makes for a gorgeous lunch in the sun.

Grab a coffee today, take a stroll in the park, be back for 6 and enjoy the portraiture exhibition. I will see you there. Sheila

 

 

 

 

 

Hatch and Sons has Just Opened a Second Eatery in the Dreamiest Location

Hatch and Harry make a dreamy brunch combination. The well-loved informal dining favourite Hatch and Sons opened a second venue last Friday at the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Street, where once housed Itsa Bagel. I popped in today with a pal to enjoy a bite and some artistic inspiration.

Hatch and Sons are located in the bright and airy room downstairs and even have an outdoor seating area to enjoy on a sunny day. Just take a right as you come in the front door and go down the stair between the reception desk and the bookshop.

In contrast to the natural light of the café, the magical Harry Clarke room (to the left after the reception on entrance) is set in a darkened room. From this shaded space, bursting with jewelled coloured light, Harry Clarke’s Eve of Saint Agnes transports you into his dreamlike fairytale land.

Stained glass windows are often associated with church windows and religious iconography. However this particular stained glass window, is set out like a graphic novel, telling a love story based on the poem “The Eve of Saint. Agnes” by English Romantic poet John Keats.

The poem this window is based on is very long. In short it tells the love story of Madeline and Porphyro. January 20th was known as the Eve of St. Agnes. On this eve young girls would fast and go to bed early. The feast day of St Agnes was the next day January 21st. If you followed a bunch of rules, fasting, bed early etc you could hope to dream of your future husband on that night. This was before iPads, Facebook, Tinder and online dating sites, so extreme lengths were gone to.

Madeline, daughter of a Lord, lived in a great castle. She was hoping to dream of her husband this night. She had followed all of the rules and conditions. She was in love with a man called Porphyro however. But her father the great Lord Maurice had forbidden her to marry him. Just like in Romeo and Juliette the girls childhood nurse gives a helping hand and helps Porphyro enter the castle in secret.

Madeline is woken by Porphyro’s music and finds he is in her room. She isn’t sure at first if she is dreaming of her future husband as it is the Eve of St. Agnes or if he is really there. Porphyro assures Madeline this is not a dream.

Like the Ed Sheeran song “Nancy Mulligan” Madeline and Porphyro run away to be together despite the family differences.

This window is so detailed and gorgeous. It contains lines from the poem on each of the 14 panels. Purple, blue and red and strongly referenced in the poem and so Harry Clarke uses these colours quite a bit in the window. Pop in and see it for yourself, because like all beautiful things, it is best viewed in person.

Admission to the gallery is free and does not require booking. The Hugh Lane opens Tuesday to Thursday 9.45am– 6pm, Friday 9.45am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm and is closed on Mondays.

Detail from the window.

The super food salad was a very tasty and healthy dish. I’ll recommend it. Definitely a winner for me.

Lots of natural light at Hatch and Sons

The gorgeous turquoise and gold entrance door of the Hugh Lane. This photo isn’t doing the colours justice. This is my dream front door.

 

 

Artist Colette McDonagh’s exhibition opens this weekend

This evening sees the opening of an exciting solo-show by Galway based artist Colette McDonagh. Avid supporters of the arts, News Cafe, Books n More (formerly Easons) of Tuam, Co. Galway present the substantial collection of oil paintings.

The exhibition includes a collection of over forty artworks inspired by the great Masters, the human form, the beauty of the West of Ireland, abstractions, flora and domestic still life.

The exhibition opens at 4pm today and will run until June 30th 2017. The great news is all paintings are for sale and individually priced. Check out the event page on facebook for more images.

Pop in early to have your choice. Everyone is welcome to come along, view and enjoy.

A personal favourite: “Storm” after Turner. Oil on Board. €250.00

“Praying hands” after Durer Oil on board framed.

“Summer Meadow”. Oil on board. €95.00

“Farmyard at Ashford”. Oil on board framed. €55.00

“Flowers” Oil on Board framed. €65.00

“Lily Pond”. Oil on canvas. €95.00 

“Jump”. Oil on Canvas €95.00

“Connemara Scene” Oil on Board framed €75.00

“Naked Lady” Oil on board framed €95.00

“Sunset” Oil on board framed €350.00

“Canna Lily” Oil on Canvas €170.00

“Still life” Oil on Board framed €75.00

 

 

 

Incognito opened today at the Solomon Gallery: 5 tips for those attending this weekend.

UPDATE: The piece donated by yours truly. Already gone to it’s new home so I can reveal my identity. In fact the entire show sold out. All 1500 pieces over the weekend. Huge congratulations to project manager Lucinda Hall and all involved. Delighted for you.

Incognito opened today at the Solomon Gallery: 5 tips for those attending this weekend.

The already hugely successful Incognito exhibition opened at the Solomon Gallery today April 21st 2017. I had intended to simply pop in, take a few snaps of the full collection of donated art works before they were snapped up and post them here on the Art Academy blog.

I had been in conversation with Frank O’Dea of the neighbouring Balla Bán art gallery in the Westbury Mall and mentioned I was dropping in. He gave me a heads up, that there has been a queue, all day long outside the gallery of people coming to select their artwork. Expect a 40 minute to 1 hour queue. He was not wrong. A fantastic turn out.

I am delighted that this exhibition is doing so well. 1500 artworks were donated including by yours truly, for The Jack and Jill Foundation. How wonderful to see all the support. The neighbouring Westbury were even handing out delicious treats to those in the queue today.

My 5 tips for to the Incognito exhibition this weekend:

  1. Grab a coffee from No. 9 Butlers on Chatham Street (around the corner) to enjoy during the queue.
  2. Get there early. Every artwork is €50 and they are selling quickly.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time to queue and browse the exhibit. Once inside there are 1500 postcard sized pieces on show. So worth the wait. Take your time, see which piece is calling you. You get to find out the artist after your purchase. You can really test your inner art critic here.
  4. Take a look on the website before hand. Not every piece is listed but it gives you a good feel for the exhibition.
  5. After all that art and culture I recommend Balfes next door for brunch or upstairs to the Westbury for a tea. Pat yourself on the back for supporting a wonderful cause and getting an artistic bargain too.

The Solomon gallery is located just off Grafton Street, next to The Westbury Hotel. The exhibition runs until the 25th of April.

Happy art shopping.

 

The queue at 5pm today. 

1500 miniture / postcard sized artworks are on sale to raise funds for Jack adn Jill.

 

 

“INCOGNITO, Jack & Jill’s 2017 Public Art Project. This is an Exhibition and sale of 1500 miniature pieces of artwork (postcard size) which will be displayed for sale in the Solomon Gallery in Dublin (Beside the Westbury Hotel) from Friday 21st April to Tuesday 25th April.

Each piece will cost €50 but you won’t find out the name of the artist until you finalise the purchase of the piece. You might end up with something worth €10,000 or something that you love by a Sunday painter!

All funds raised from this campaign will help provide home nursing care for very sick babies nationwide.”