Netflix for Art Lovers

Dark evenings and constant talk of “it’s expected to snow” call for staying in by the crackling fire, comfort food and Netflix. If you love art and simultaneously are suffering Game of Thrones withdrawl, Medici, Masters of Florence on Netflix is just for you.

Medici: Masters of Florence tells the story of the rise to power of the Medici dynasty. The drama unfolds against the beautiful back drop of Renaissance Italy, in all of it’s architectural and artistic glory.

If you are missing “Robb Stark” Richard Madden plays the lead character Cosimo De Medici. John Bradley West of “Sam Tarley” fame plays a Medici cousin. Another GoT favourite Dustin Hoffman plays “Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici”

IMDB rates the series 8/10. Season 1 was released on the 9th of December 2016 with Season 2 promised “by the end of the year” (2017?) Check it out on Netflix here


      Image Refs: Stills from the Netflix original series Medici Masters of Florence.



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:

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.

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 Exhibition, what you need to know.

For those unfamiliar, Incognito is an exciting exhibition in aid of the Jack and Jill Foundation. Artists from all over Ireland have donated postcard sized artwork to the exhibition (including yours truly).

They are all priced the same. For €50 any piece is yours. The fun part is, it is only after you purchase the art, that the identity of the artist is revealed. Fancy yourself as an art critic. There are so many styles so choose wisely and see if you have a good eye.

The incognito website is now open and so you can view all the artwork online at Call into the Solomon on Friday 21st April (10am-7pm) to see the exhibition. 

Check them out online where you can register your interest in a piece. Here are a few of my personal favs so far:

This dreamy textured painting above

I have a weakness for realist art, where the everyday is elevated to the divine, like the oil tube above

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.

Fun Art Exhibition with a Twist and all for a Good Cause.

I have just popped my donation of a tiny oil painting in the post to Jack and Jill for their “Incognito” fundraiser. However I can’t share an image of it just yet because as the exhibition name suggests, the artists identities remain anonymous until after they are sold.

This fun art initiative, will see 1500 postcard-size pieces of art exhibited at the Solomon Gallery in Dublin on April 2016 and also online. Each piece will sell of fifty euro, with the artists signature revealed after purchase. Have fun guessing who painted which piece. You never know you may pick up a piece by a very well known artist if you have a sharp eye.

All of the proceed are going to Jack & Jill. They have just collected all the art but I’ll leave a link below so you can have a peek when they go online.

Jack & Jill is calling for artists to participate in its newest arts initiative entitled ‘Incognito’