Art Camp for grown-ups at Block T

As an artists and/or art teacher I believe that it absolutely imperative that we are  the perpetual learner. Here in Ireland there are little hidden pockets of artistic gold waiting to be absorbed. I  intend to seek these out, enjoy them for myself to build on my artistic knowledge but also share them with you.

One such gem can be found in Block T. Recently I have had the pleasure of completed the realism oil painting course there, under the expert tutelage of Florentine academy multi-award winning artist  Nicholas Benedict Robinson. I will share with you my journey on his course in the images below. It being by no means the poster model but it gives you some idea of how I progressed the painting. We worked from direct observation of the live model for 6 Wednesday evenings. Nicholas is an excellent teacher of this method.

The good news is there is another such upcoming workshop so don’t feel you have missed out. There is a full week coming up 31st July – 4th of August. Keep an eye on the Block T website and Nicholas’s website for further courses. You can check how I got on at the last workshop below:

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.

 

 

 

 

This Mother’s Day Weekend, Why Not Try Something a Little Different

If you fancy a bit of culture this Mother’s Day weekend, I recommend heading along to The National Gallery where there is a new and exciting portrait on show. Gareth Reid’s commission of Graham Norton has arrived and is hanging in the Millennium wing.

It show’s a different side to our favourite TV show host. A more relaxed, casual, pensive side quite far removed from his highly polished tv persona.

Gareth won the commission as the prize on Sky’s Portrait Artists of the Year 2017, available to watch on Sky Go. Over the course of 8 episodes we see artists battle it out to win the coveted prize: a £10,000 commission to paint a portrait of Graham Norton.

Perhaps the real prize for any artist is this painting is now part of the permanent portrait collection in the National Gallery of Ireland. So we are lucky to have this piece here in Dublin and free to the public to visit.

While you are there why not pop in to see the finalists and winner of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016. You need not have a four year degree in Art History from Trinity to enjoy these pieces. Both hold fantastic examples of contemporary portraiture that are accessible and appeal to all.

My favourite part about viewing Gareth’s commission on the final Episode 9 Season 3 of the show, is we get to see his process.

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Here we see the artist change his composition several times before settling on a final one. He paints and repaints over and over sketching using the brush and red and black oil paint. We get a real insight into how he works as an artist.

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*Image credits: Still from the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2017 Ep9 S3 available to watch on Sky Go

Gareth had three sittings with Graham ahead of painting the portrait. They met in Cork and got to know each other. Eventually it was revealed through their conversations that they are actually distant relatives. Gareth made several sketches and took photographs of Graham and the surrounding area.

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Gareth Reid at work in his studio, still from the show.

I would recommend watching the show (or at least the final episode if not the series) and then popping in to see it in person. It’s amazing to see art in real life as opposed to a representation on your tv/ media player.

Image credit: photo taken while visiting the National Gallery.

The portrait in reality is larger than I anticipated. The National Gallery is located around the corner from Merrion Square and the perfect located for lunch and a Sunday stroll afterwards.

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the wonder women this weekend.

Alginate fun on a Tuesday in Harold’s Cross

We had such a blast at Art Academy on Tuesday excavating the plaster hand casts from their alginate housing. Having created the casts in last weeks class everyone was ready for the big reveal. So cautiously the seaweed based gel like mould was cut away from the plaster. It’s inevitable a finger will be lost at some point but luckily it’s easily fixed. Any bumps are sanded and fine dental tools are used to mend any imperfections or remove alginate from small grooves. Have a look at some pics from the evening posted below.

I have also included pictures of a personal cast I took of my parents at the weekend. They submerged a hand each together in a bucket to cast both of their hands in one art piece.

Next week we will begin the exciting cast drawing process under controlled lighting. We will keep you posted on the progress. Check back for updates. Anyone wishing to join the class can get in touch for details.

 

      

My mam and daddy’s couples cast.

Dublin Canvas 2017

You may have noticed pieces of art appearing on traffic lights boxes in Dublin over the last two Summers. It is the work of an initiative called Dublin Canvas . It seeks to brighten the city by commissioning artists to transform a dull traffic light box into a public work of art. I was lucky enough last year to paint two such boxes.

“The Danger was Half the Excitement” 2016 by Sheila Flaherty located on Merrion Square – photography credit Gary Connolly

The boxes have been brightening up the city for two years now.  Check out images of all the artists work so far on the Dublin Canvas website gallery.

“Art inspires the World” 2016 by Sheila Flaherty located in Harold’s Cross. Photo credit: The Harold’s Cross Xpress

The work has been getting great media coverage from both local and national newspapers 

The project set to roll out again for Summer/ Autumn 2017. If you would like an artist to paint a  box painted in your area, post a photo with location using hashtag #dublincanvas to the Facebook page. If you fancy painting a box yourself, get in touch with David Murtagh on the website and sign up to the news letter with all the information about getting involved. I look forward to spotting new artwork emerge over the course of the Summer and Autumn. 

Upcoming Oil Painting Workshop in Dublin City Centre with Artist Will Nathans

On the 15th of April next, artist William Nathans is opening up his art studio above Kennedys art supply shop  to host a life painting oil workshop. I have twice attended previous workshops and found them wonderful.

A small group of artists gather in William’s art studio on Harcourt Street. There is a live model, posed on a stage of drapery and considered, controlled lighting. You arrive with your canvas primed with a medium grey ground. Chose a view point that suits you and prop your canvas on an easel.

Will gives a demonstration on marking out your painting, using the brush and paint as drawing tools. Each artist makes a start. This is a one day workshop, so it is quite a fast pace to work at and you can’t expect any great polish on your piece, just the“Premier-Coup” approach so to speak.

There is a break for lunch,  you clean your pallet before and return to begin anew. Will gives another demonstration at this point and lots of pointers throughout the day. It is helpful and interesting to see the other artists approach to the same subject matter and an enjoyable day of painting.

Kennedy’s offer a discount on materials purchased on the day of the workshop. You need to bring your own paints and materials, outside of the easel and they will email you a list ahead of the event.

Saturday 15th April: Will Nathans – Painting the Nude Figure from Life