painting

RDH: SEPTEMBER 2019

01/09/19

More work done to  “The Ferryman” . I think it’s lost any painterly charm.

More work done to “The Ferryman”. I think it’s lost any painterly charm.

02/09/19

‘Arena: Kusama Infinity’ - such a great artist!

“While the dead show dead art, living artists die.” - Yayoi Kusama

Hope springs eternal.

05/09/19

Great talk and workshop with Action Mental Health. Really positive and interesting feedback from the crowd.

Patrick Horan’s fantastic paintings in the Ards Art Centre’s Sunburst Gallery.

Patrick Horan’s fantastic paintings in the Ards Art Centre’s Sunburst Gallery.

Called into the Ards Art Centre for a quick chat and a little look at two shows opening; Gavin McCrea’s installation and Patrick Horan’s paintings.

Yusuke Asai’s amazing installation in the Golden Thread Gallery

Yusuke Asai’s amazing installation in the Golden Thread Gallery

At Late Night Art Mark McGreevy’s ‘Flop Sweat’ in the MAC is marvellous! Brilliant use of colour. ‘Knick Knacks and Whatnots’ by Cameron Morgan in University of Atypical is excellent. Blown away by the work on display in the Golden Thread’s “Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now’ especially Yusuke Asai’s huge mud installations.

06/09/19

“Ferryman” is unusable.

07/09/19

Finally finished the middle panel from the originally conceived “Pioneer” triptych. Think it stands on it’s own merit.

More progress to the the ‘Cooley’ piece.

11/09/19

Sketchbook work tonight.

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12/09/19

Really enjoyed “Memory: The Origin of Alien” documentary.

“At the Mountains of Madness” by HP Lovecraft.

“What will humanity find when they look in the dark places?”

15/09/19

Studio work - some additions of spray paint to ‘Cooley’ piece. Walked away before digging too far.

Little panel piece, “The Horror! The Horror” Speed is it’s friend. Wooden supports are responsive to gestural work - less so with the charcoal marks - more layers needed to achieve tonal quality I’m after.

16/09/19

Wonderful article about my time up at Action Mental Health.

17/09/19

Increase in productivity lately. Could it be a confidence thing? I’m working no more or no less than the slump periods. Is it a case of a fine tuning of better judgement when more at peace with practice? Plenty to look forward to in the coming months.

19/09/19

cobweb.jpg

21/09/19

Notes: immediate drawing line combined with more deliberate painterly marks. Cross pollination.

“LW” = by removing the instrument of trauma can it be viewed in a miraculous or redemptive light?

Not spelling out the narrative - Great to sit down and chat about work and ideas with GM.

Visit to PS Squared and “How the Image Echos” show.

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Sea Holly Gallery is absolutely stunning and wonderful work on from the 545 pop up group show. So good to see elements of the much loved Orpheus building back in an artistic sense.

Craig Donald ’s work alongside restored windows from the Orpheus building in the Sea Holly Gallery

Craig Donald’s work alongside restored windows from the Orpheus building in the Sea Holly Gallery

22/09/19

Finished little panel piece.

Finished little panel piece.

24/09/19

Quarantined.

28/09/19

painting-detail.jpg

Studio work and “Dress Rehearsal Study” is getting there. It’s weird how every time I paint children they end up completely terrifying.

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is utterly amazing. Beautifully filmed and will stay with me for a long time.

midsommar-still.jpg

30/09/19

Collection of work for “ Bardo ” show tomorrow morning.

Collection of work for “Bardo” show tomorrow morning.

RDH: AUGUST 2019

01/08/19

Save mode now!

04/08/19

Clean Palette.

Clean Palette.

08/08/19

Spider skin

Spider skin

10/08/19

Studio…

Detail of “ Bogland Sackrace ” - work in progress.

Detail of “Bogland Sackrace” - work in progress.

Drawing is essential in practice. It’s not even the success of the outcome that’s important but the act of looking and really scrutinising an image or object. Trying to find a way in.

PERFECTION IS AN ILLUSION.

13/08/19

Wrapping process.

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15/08/19

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

16/08/19

For tomorrow, let loose!

I’ve been lingering long enough on small little intricacies.

It’s not the first time I’ve struggled with a figure in profile.

Need to just look!

‘Art of Spain’ documentary : Goya was deaf!?

Black paintings were done “to the brink of incoherence” (AGD).

17/08/19

‘ Bogland ’ completed

Bogland’ completed

A really good day in the studio. Huge improvement to ‘Sackrace’. The face in the central figure could be better but that is where I’ll leave it. Back is signed so it’s official.

Studio shot:  17/08/19

Studio shot: 17/08/19

Unplanned progress on ‘Ferryman’. More painterly background.

21/08/19

Getting there with the small chores.

22/08/19

Otto Dix - War Triptych

24/08/19

Early stages of “The Brown Bull of Cooley”

Early stages of “The Brown Bull of Cooley”

Started a new large canvas. Took on the image of a woman in motion - her stance suggested a figure that could be in battle. After a little research I decided to add a typical Celtic sword and shield combo. So this found magazine image turns into Queen Medb of Connaught.

Once the figure was on the canvas I was unsure whether to incorporate the bull (Medb’s infamous cattle raid of Cooley as inspiration) but curiosity got the better of me and I tore on with it.

Basically blocking the image up but it is promising so far. It will be interesting to see the fight between Medb and the bull in terms of who will come out dominant where in the composition.

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28/08/19

29/08/19

Material delivery!

31/08/19

Studio work and ‘Ferryman’ has stagnated. Some parts work and others flop.

At that strange limbo point where a painting you’re working on fights back and refuses to yield. When one point of grievance is adjusted, two more pop up.

Today - more so than others - has been spent reflecting on lost loved ones and parts of that has made its way onto canvas. Little nods to moments once shared with someone no longer here.

I haven’t had this level of personal attachment to a work in progress in a long time and it has made the already frustrating back and forth of a painting’s final stretch all the more agonising.

Can you paint over a memory or is knowing that these little nods once existed enough?

ferryman-detail.jpg

RDH: JUNE 2019

01/06/19

Almost a disaster. Too hung up on certain elements and it is holding the piece back. So the notion of blurring the background and having the foreground sharply in focus works. Execution at the moment is lacking sadly. Need to figure out how to fix the mesh fence but will need to redo all the good work from today. Lesson Learnt.

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02/06/19

Essentially yesterday was a pure slug fest in the studio.

Action is better than inaction. Working out grid for fence work.

Action is better than inaction. Working out grid for fence work.

07/06/19

Great to meet up with folks today.

GOLDEN THREAD GALLERY VISIT:

THE MAC VISIT:

Solo show by   John McMacken

Solo show by John McMacken

Belfast School of Art Degree Shows were great. Some outstanding work. Nina Johnston’s tree installation on level 6 is amazing. Regardless of levels/grades that many of the graduates are embarking on that’s the really exciting part.

Looking back, I adored my time in university but detested my degree show. All but one piece has been destroyed and it was the start of a huge, and still ongoing learning curve that’s led my practice to where it is.

Meeting in the evening went really well. Some good feedback and ideas for an upcoming project.

08/06/19

Little break from the studio today to recharge from the overload of art from yesterday.

11/06/19

“Frank Bowling - What do Artists Do All Day?”

12/06/19

The beginnings of planning an exhibition layout.

The beginnings of planning an exhibition layout.

“Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a strength”

Katy Grannan

“Dana Shutz: How Do You Depict A Feeling?”

15/06/19

Detail of the removal process.

Detail of the removal process.

Bit of start and stop in the studio but fixative giveth and fixative taketh away!

Just spied Grace McMurray’s piece in the Royal Academy documentary.

16/06/19

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“Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories” - Great way to start the day!

“Depression is like a crown of thorns”

Paula Rego

Dander down to the river with the dogs.

More pushing back on “Sack Race” although I could have easily got sucked into working on tiny details and not looked at the whole picture.

sackrace-progress-detail

Treat every painting as a study.

17/06/19

Glazing, Hatching, Cross Hatching, Direct, Sfumato, Painterly, Impasto, Staining, Dripping, Gestural, Broken Strokes, Dotting, A La Prima, Patches, Feathers, Scumbling, Washes, Bravara, Directional.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

19/06/19

Knowledge / Creativity / Inspiration

Beginnings / Liberation

21/06/19

the-bogland-sackrace-work-in-progress

Summer Solstice. Pleased with how mesh fence is coming.

22/06/19

Need to let go of aiming to get the little things perfect in the work. Ultimately its holding up the process. Obviously not saying to go full ‘Sloppy Joe’ on it but recognising when things get knit picky - take a step back and reassess time spent on something inconsequential.

fence-work

Perfection is an illusion.

23/06/19

Little break day. Sophia Campbell on “Sky’s PAOTY 2019”.

24/06/19

There’s no sugar coating it. Intrusive thoughts bombarding for practically 8 straight hours.

Embarrassing, frustrating but mainly just terrifying. I don’t want them anymore.

25/06/19

It will take time to get to grips with what is going on.

27/06/19

Currently going through potential imagery. I think its good to scan through images from time to time to build up ideas.

30/06/19

Getting to grips with terms and conditions and sorting out a plan of action together.

RDH: MAY 2019

03/05/19

Painting Peer Critique hosted in CCA Derry.

Artist   John Robinson   with his work on the temporary stage at CCA Derry.

Artist John Robinson with his work on the temporary stage at CCA Derry.

04/05/19

Close up of “ The Lost Woods Study ”

Close up of “The Lost Woods Study

Been a while since using leaves to print on. Needs more layers but for now it solves the issue of the line… breaks the eye.

So after four months and four days I’ve finally finished a painting and broke my 2019 drought.

Detail of “ Rose ” - oil and charcoal on canvas.

Detail of “Rose” - oil and charcoal on canvas.

05/05/19

First time visiting and it was like opening an old wound.

11/05/19

One very creepy window display.

One very creepy window display.

12/05/19

Great Art show: “Goya: Flesh and Blood”

Started “Sack Race” (working title) and stupidly didn’t check material inventory before starting.

17/05/19

Sketching tonight. Past self was clever enough to leave certain works aside for potential events.

Study of an Uncle.

Study of an Uncle.

18/05/19

Really happy with how the studio went today.

19/05/19

Completed “ The Lost Woods Study ”.

Completed “The Lost Woods Study”.

20/05/19

Not to rely on gimmick. It has been an invaluable tool - one that I will continue to utilise - but only when the work demands it. If it is forced (like “Woman With the Dogs” and, more recently, “Ruins”) the work stagnates and imagery drowns in an unnecessarily complicated mess.

21/05/19

Should take own advice from time to time about differing paint properties.

In “Sack Race” - the looser the playing field the better. Almost tempted not to touch it at all.

A sort of closure. A temporary full stop.

22/05/19

Ran out of time. Need to keep RD by side.

23/05/19

Ring-gate.

25/05/19

“I know more. The lack of whats in the current work informs the next.” - Eva Rothschild.

More layers to “The Ferryman”. Because the face of the ferryman is so small it would be easy to fall into the familiar trap of aiming to capture all the detail and likeness of the source image. Focusing instead on light and tone - maybe even a hint of a blur? Like the figure is in the middle of turning to look at the viewer.

Surprise / Confrontation / Acknowledgement

Back and forth with “Sack Race”. Happy with certain elements, like the sky but have consequently fogged up other sections in the process. Eager to not fall into the familiar trap of muddiness and over-painting.

More progress to the sky in “ Sack Race ”.

More progress to the sky in “Sack Race”.

27/25/19

29/05/19

Late night sketchbook work.

Late night sketchbook work.

RDH: 01/12/18 - 31/12/18

01/12/18

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Blocked out “Bereft Clown”.

02/12/18

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Found an ogham poster on North Street with an interesting translation.

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Vault studios is amazing - especially EMIC’s studio space!

04/12/18

…text to coincide with next solo show…

08/12/18

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Studio work today. Thought I was close to finishing ‘confessional’ but it might be further away than I imagined.

09/12/18

“You make a mistake when you explain the paintings through the war.”

Mark Stevens - on Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion”

Several shooting stars.

15/12/18

Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Childhood hero reduced. It's a real jolt to the system.

Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It’s so subjective that it can defy explanation or description. Nightmarish.

16/12/18

Materials courtesy of the  University of Atypical ’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Materials courtesy of the University of Atypical’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Need to learn to keep some things to yourself.

See it through. Stay strong and keep head up.

17/12/18

Panic attack today.

21/12/18

You never fully appreciate someone until its too late. A true legend that has shaped so many. Time with family is so important.

Resolutions < Revolutions

22/12/18

Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Thought I had a good night’s sleep but my body is telling me different. Need to draw more again.

26/12/18

Getting lost in thought about art is a joy. It’s like taking a mini vacation.

27/12/18

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Some sketchbook work. Not much but it’s a start.

Look more before putting pen to paper. This is not to say to lose the immediacy during the act of drawing but to take a breath to absorb and examine what an image has to offer.

29/12/18

Finished “Confessional”. Maybe when the mind is distracted slightly it makes studio work more of an automated response? Decisions were made and action was taken.

confessional-finished

Not saying having a completely distracted head-space works. Far from it. I’ve been there plenty of times and it’s disastrous. No. It’s more a case of - you’re in the studio and you have a clear(ish) idea of where the work will go so you follow that. The decision making dilemma is lessened due to the preoccupation of other matters going on upstairs.

30/12/18

A bit of work done to “Bereft Clown before clearing the palette and studio up for another year.

bereft-clown-in-progress.JPG

2018 in Photos

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

RDH: 01/11/18 - 30/11/18

02/11/18

… all but done…

03/11/18

Do I need a foreign colour? “Afore the Stoop” went in a slightly different direction than first thought. I think I had that quote by Helen Johnson still ringing in my ears about imagery possessing different surface qualities and being on different registers on the same picture plane.

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The buzzard is still; hovering overhead while the still-life is in flux. Melting in on itself. To not just merge separate imagery on the one canvas but to treat them differently via technique. I’ve done this regularly in the past but never to this extent before and definitely not on this scale. There’s loads going on: blocked areas, melting, washes and burning/corroding of the surface for texture.

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Confessional” is a different beast altogether. It’s going to be a slower process - building up washes of colour, drawing elements back in followed by more washes until it comes to an end or a crossroads. So far so good. It’s not really a colliding of images. It’s the notion of what a negative of a pattern could do to another image.

Refreshing to see organisations opening doors. The model is being altered.

04/11/18

afore-the-stoop-teeth-detail.JPG

Kept hearing the shrieking of a buzzard every time I went to work on “Afore the Stoop”. When I looked it was perched on top of the tallest tree at the end of the lane and then glided off.

06/11/18

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Some sketchbook work. Not a lot of time but that’s my fault.

09/11/18

HELP!

10/11/18

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For studio work: cautious steps or daring leaps? Annoyingly close to finishing “ATS”.

Submission writing hurts my head.

11/11/18

Films to watch:

‘Deer Hunter’

‘Inland Empire’

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

’Kill List’

‘Enemy’

‘Fruitvale Station’

‘Green Room’

‘Silence’

Finished “ATS”. Still bits that annoy but for the sake of not destroying it entirely, I don’t mind the imperfections.

afore-the-stoop-detail.JPG

Help has been indispensable.

12/11/18

Still waiting on magazine.

13/11/18

Egon Shiele Documentary - transcending the idea of the body as beauty.

15/11/18

Nothing.

16/11/18

Belfast bound for curator talks but looking forward to visiting some galleries first.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical  was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Ali Cherri  in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Ali Cherri in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from  Visual Artists Ireland  offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from  CCI in Paris , Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from  CCA Warsaw , Dean Brierley from  Caustic Coastel  in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of  Monopol Gallery  in Warsaw.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from Visual Artists Ireland offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from CCI in Paris, Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from CCA Warsaw, Dean Brierley from Caustic Coastel in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of Monopol Gallery in Warsaw.

17/11/18

Work is being used as an example to show other artists about finding your own voice. Chuffed.

…someone has been keeping an eye on my progress and that is something!

Another trip to Belfast for more galleries and then a Speed Curating event.

Gerard Carson ’s “Submersible Extractions” in  Platform .

Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” in Platform.

Still of  Barbara Hammer ’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Still of Barbara Hammer’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in  Belfast Exposed .

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in Belfast Exposed.

18/11/18

It has been a hectic but brilliant few days. Yesterday I called into Platform to see Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” and a solo show by Dryden Wilson. I followed this up by a quick look at the Barbara Hammer exhibition and Patrick Colhoun’s project space work in the Golden Thread Gallery. Then it was time for the speed curating event at Belfast Exposed.


… do research. What artists i admire….

…Strange. Nothing negative. Just nothing.

A lot of information. A real painter?

19/11/18

“In Defence of Representation” essay by Tristan Garcia.
In western philosophy the representational object is either a copy, a sign or a duplex.

“… according to the semiotic model, there is no representation without signification, that is to say without interpretation.” - Tristan Garcia

20/11/18

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” - Screen (1973)

“The Victim” - Saul Bellow

21/11/18

Tried sketchbook work - failed miserably.

23/11/18

Projection onto fog screen.

24/11/18

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Thunderchild?

Line of connection between viewer and work - GO’H

Ask the question: what do you see?

25/11/18

Yesterday I eventually got painting around lunchtime - back and forth with ‘Confessional’ but progress made.  Great talk with GO’H about ‘the gaze’.

Leaf blowing.

27/11/18

Need to select paintings for Framewerk Christmas show.

28/11/18

“The Trouble with Painting” - ICA (YouTube)

“What you’re interested in in the world will feed back into what you are interested in as an artist.” - Alison Pilkington

…speaking about dreams, a quote from Alison Pilkington’s drawing seminar from the RHA really stuck out.  I’m paraphrasing here but the guts of it is this:  talking to people about why you make the work you do (or about your inspirations for that matter) is like talking to people about your dreams.  People aren’t overly interested when someone else describes a dream.  It’s subjective and personal and it’s all but impossible to get the experience across properly.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.

29/11/18

A difficult few weeks to come.

RDH: 01/10/18 - 31/10/18

01/10/18

… of interest. Attainable small steps to reach big goals.

02/10/18

Delivery mix up.

05/10/18

Booked VAI speed curating slots for November.

…LA… fingers crossed!

06/10/18

initials in ogham

initials in ogham

Experiment in the studio with a degree of success. When a fine layer of fixative is lit on the paintings surface, areas of the canvas that are predominantly charcoal or thin layers of colour are singed and blister - creating an interesting effect. Safety first though.

Jan is right —> the lighter background to “Pioneer” was more unsettling. Rectify.

studio-shot-06-10-18.JPG

07/10/18

Staring at “Pioneer”. I think I’m hesitant because its… I don’t know. I think the colours are too similar between light and shade. By the same token - you don’t want it to become too contrasting and cartoonish. A foreign colour introduced into the third panel may point a direction.

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Flying by the seat of pants but you can’t control the spontaneous. Some detailed work today. It is getting there. Attention directed towards other matters.

… paintings and clusters of drawings - like a shotgun spread of memories. Jumbled - linked yet conflicting. Fighting for dominance.

\\\THE TRAUMA PARADOX\\\

08/10/18

Just realised a connection between “AMATGS” and the ivy crown. Oedipus plays would have been played during the festival of Dionysus - who is associated with a crown of ivy.

09/10/18

“ I gave myself permission to follow my voice and that’s what my whole career has been. I still give myself permission and no compromise. I compromised before but not when I became an artist.” Mark Bradford

10/10/18

World Mental Health Day.

11/10/18

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13/10/18

“Into The Void Magazine” submission successful!

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Sketchbook work and now watching the original ‘Suspiria’ for the first time.

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14/10/18

Notes finished for presentation. Pleased with burning effect on triptych.

… was suggested something on Friday. Well it was more of a dialogue regarding “Pioneer”; the first and last sections work. They’re strong but the one that should be the strongest and the anchor, the middle piece is way behind. Changing from a triptych to a diptych? Leave it for a while - continue working on all three before abandoning the middle piece.

Using ash as a painting/drawing medium. Religious links? Why do ideas come in the final minutes of the day? Processing process.

18/10/18

On way to Dublin. Looking forward to talking about work in DLR Lexicon. Not nervous. Yet.

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Just saw the most beautiful fox casually strolling across a field outside Armagh.

I’ve been skirting around issues. The ‘recall’ notion might be worth exploring again. Drawing. Painting. Video. Audio.

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The DLR Lexicon is stunning. Really enjoyed the other talks - especially work of Cecilia Bullo.

19/10/18

Yesterday’s trip and talks were great. Just wish I had more time to go around some of Dublin’s galleries when I was down. Decided it was best to drop the middle canvas in “Pioneer Studies”. Finished the other two pieces and happy with the results.

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20/10/18

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A little tweaking to “Afore the Stoop”.
Dad suffered a bleeding eye following his operation.

22/10/18

Have been neglecting practice and methods during the week. Ards - it seems a long way off but it will fly in.

Keeping your finger on the pulse is no bad thing.

24/10/18

Personal history is a source - not the explanation. ‘imagine…’ with Tracey Emin on iPlayer was insightful. Have a new found respect for Emin’s practice and quite like a few of some of her new paintings.

27/10/18

No paints were used today but three canvases were started. The smallest piece - I don’t think will have legs. As a drawing it is strong but I feel it won’t work on canvas. I’ve drawn up “Bereft Clown” again - a different size to the previous square stretcher. Will see how it goes. The third canvas is the one I’m most excited about. It’s a merging of two images but in a slightly different way. First is an image of a German officer stationed in a concentration camp. The other is a negative of a confession screen. The idea is to project light through the lattice onto the portrait. Fright Night in the jungle was great fun!

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28/10/18

Slept so much. Slow progress but progress nonetheless.

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31/10/18

Spacing error.

“I’m really interested in creating moments of ‘push and pull’ in paintings and having different registers of imagery with different surface qualities - so one thing might be compositionally in the foreground but materially might be being subsumed by whats behind it.” Helen Johnson

RDH: 01/09/18 - 30/09/18

01/09/18

Detail work to “AMATGS” today.

Detail work to “AMATGS” today.

02/09/18

Lifting unselected works from Belfast.

Lifting unselected works from Belfast.

03/09/18

No point in worrying about things out of your control. Took a while but made good progress in the studio. Gently does it.

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Sculpture on my mind.

04/09/18

…mad to think I have two solo shows coming…

Tinker + Research + Ideas = …

What box?

05/09/18

Detail of sketchbook work.

Detail of sketchbook work.

NB: Sketch from objects?

08/09/18

ideas: …soft pink highlights… hints of sandals… bruised colour…

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Steps in the right direction. Had a notion to put trees in the background - the nothingness was annoying me. After that attempt and then a further attempt to incorporate reflective lines, i think blank is good. There is plenty going on in and amongst the three figures so to try and confuse it with more ammo may be a mistake.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.

09/09/18

Seneca on anger documentary. Nero’s tutor. People get angry because they are too hopeful - be more pessimistic and less surprised for misfortune.

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Be psychologically prepared from when things go wrong. Dark Symbol - Rudder

“What need is there to weep over parts of life, the whole of it calls for tears.” - Seneca

10/09/18

Playing about with mirror effects.

Playing about with mirror effects.

Change to background. Neutral this time and I think it will work. There was a muck up when I went to put the blood moon back in and I tried to rectify the warmer tones on the upper right or the neutral colour but was then reminded of a quote by Rose Wylie: “I think you’re a lot happier if you don’t mind a bit of imperfection.” It feeds into the Seneca documentary from last night.

11/09/18

Another day filled with distractions.

12/09/18

Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

An afternoon of application submissions and sketchbook studies.

15/09/18

Detail of recently finished painting.

Detail of recently finished painting.

Finished “A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife.”

16/09/18

A lazy day.

17/09/18

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Some interest. Started triptych.

23/09/18

Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!

Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!

24/09/18

Jan mentioned something that I think is important. Doing a little something everyday - even if you think there is no point - is better than doing nothing at all.

25/09/18

A weird impromptu visit. Well-intentioned but very sceptical.

26/09/18

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The only absolute constant is change.

29/09/18

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Painting Peer Critique Session went really well in the Golden Thread Gallery. Hoping it grows and develops.

30/09/18

Studio work. “Pioneer Studies” - good start. Haven’t done a triptych in a few years. Third canvas is all but there.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

"Procession Study"

The image from Procession study takes inspiration from a still of the 1964 film “The Masque of the Red Death” which is based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name. The film is dated and garish but does have some interesting visuals.

Still from “The Masque of the Red Death” 1964 film.

Still from “The Masque of the Red Death” 1964 film.

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I first explored this image in 2017. In my sketchbook (above) I pared the image down to the three component parts; land, sky and figures and ignored nearly all detail. It was then projected up onto a large canvas. Below is the reveal of the figures once the background was applied.

Sadly the painting didn’t go any further and I set the image aside until recently. I decided to do the opposite of last year’s attempt and work on a small study with the figures facing the other way. The sky soon became convoluted so it was then pulled back to neutral tones.

“Procession Study”  Oil and Charcoal on Canvas  ©2018

“Procession Study”

Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

©2018

Knowing When to Stop

Cy Twombley once said "it's absurd to talk about paintings that you haven't finished".  With that in mind I'm going to talk about paintings that I haven't finished.

No matter how long you have been painting, there is always a danger of overworking a canvas.  The feeling of losing something that had promise at some stage isn't pleasant but I think its important to look at these errors and, all being well, aim to avoid them in future works.

Early stage of "The Vanity Fair" (inspired by a section of John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress".&nbsp; The bunting and sky is light and the upper figure is visible through the clouds.

Early stage of "The Vanity Fair" (inspired by a section of John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress".  The bunting and sky is light and the upper figure is visible through the clouds.

The sky has become muddy, the upper figure has all but been resorted to an illustration and the lower figure's skin tones are overworked and crowded.

The sky has become muddy, the upper figure has all but been resorted to an illustration and the lower figure's skin tones are overworked and crowded.

The child's skin tones and using primary colours in the amputee figure worked in the earlier stage.  In an attempt to unify the images it all became washed out.  The one section that survived is the child's arm which was quickly removed from the rest.

"The Woman With the Dogs" is probably a work that I will come back to at some point.  The dog in the earlier stage is melting into the portrait and has very few marks.  In trying to bring out the woman's face more, it eventually became overworked with too much happening in the image as a whole.  The drips were the final nail in the coffin - for now.


"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"

For the past few years I've been interested creating work loosely based on the works of Sophocles and in particular the plays surrounding Oedipus.  Yes there is the obvious notion of trauma involved in realising you have murdered your father and married your mother etc but this isn't really of interest.  I have started a few times to make work using imagery form an 1896 Dutch production of "Oedipus Rex" but all have fell short of what I wanted to achieve.

Louis Bouwmeester as Oedipus in a Dutch production (c.1896)

Louis Bouwmeester as Oedipus in a Dutch production (c.1896)

Failed Study of Oedipus from 2017

Failed Study of Oedipus from 2017

"Oedipus and the Sphinx",   Gustave Moreau, 1864,&nbsp;The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

"Oedipus and the Sphinx", Gustave Moreau, 1864, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The character of Oedipus has appeared in art many times.  Some focused on the character's known genius and skills as a soldier / king to be like Moreau's "Oedipus and the Sphinx".  Renoir's take on the myth looked at the unravelling scene of when Oedipus the king emerges from his palace having blinded himself for realising his deeds.  Filled with light and energy Renoir's work is chaotic and seems to put Oedipus' kingdom of Thebes into a frenzy.

"Oedipus Rex", Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1895, Private Collection

"Oedipus Rex", Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1895, Private Collection

One painting that has a different stance comes earlier than Moreau and Renoir yet looks at later circumstances. "Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices" by Fuseli looks at the epic poem 'The Thebaid' where Oedipus curses his sons for disrespecting him by praying to Zeus that they (Polynices and Eteocles) died by each others hand.

"Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices", by Henry Fuseli, 1786, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

"Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices", by Henry Fuseli, 1786, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

Polynices and Eteocles roughly translate as 'Manifold Strife' and 'Truly Glorious' respectively.  I did a small sketch a few years ago of a photo taken in 1911 of past family members from when they were children and hadn't developed it any further until it came to mind as a stand in for the two sons of Oedipus (although one is actually a little girl).  I've decided to merge the Dutch production image of Oedipus and the personal photo.

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A mixing of the translations of Polynices and Eteocles serves as the working title for this painting in progress:

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"

A WORK IN PROGRESS

 

RDH: 01/07/18 - 31/07/18

01/07/18

Crunching numbers.

02/07/18

... feels unfinished ... sections fall apart ... a denying of illusionism ...

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

03/07/18

TRAUMA PARADOX - CONCEPT

04/07/18

Shocked. Head spirals backwards.  Sketchbook work today.

05/07/18

'Bardo' - (tibetan) a state between life and death

...instead of saying "What's wrong with you?" it should be "What happened to you?"

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from   VAI

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from VAI

1:  Emotional brain basically becomes a 'survival brain' and can hijack the conscious brain.

2:  Alarm system in brain becomes distorted and a person may become hyper vigilant.

3:  Ability to appraise the present and to learn from experience (an imbalance and a resistance to heal).

Developmental trauma takes time to heal and there are no quick fixes.

BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!!!!

07/07/18

Lifting works from the  Townhouse Gallery  in Belfast.

Lifting works from the Townhouse Gallery in Belfast.

rough sketch for an installation idea

rough sketch for an installation idea

08/07/18

A research day.

A research day.

09/07/18

Studio wall

Studio wall

Refined some charcoal marks on the large landscape today.

10/07/18

"Traumatic Memory"

trauma - from the greek meaning 'to wound' or 'to pierce'.

11/07/18

NOTES from Psychology texts:

"...the story of trauma is one of enlightenment and forgetfulness.Knowledge gained and lost over and over. A history categorised by criticism and denial."

A tragic paradox of trauma is that one of it's primary casualties is that of truth itself.

Trauma is considered as - "an event outside the range of usual experience." (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -III - R - 1980)

Trauma shatters the assumptive world - invincibility has gone and the world is seen as darker, chaotic, evil and dangerous.

12/07/18

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Sketchbook work today.  Little steps are better than no steps at all.

13/07/18

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Stretched a few canvases today.

14/07/18

detail of landscape in progress

detail of landscape in progress

Colours laid out and tightened back of landscape canvas.

15/07/18

;

16/07/18

"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

Finished "The Mountain of the Heights" today.  Could have done more but I'm learning to let go before work is destroyed.

17/07/18

"Second hand images can create first hand emotion" - Marlene Dumas

18/07/18

A delivery of paints came today

A delivery of paints came today

19/07/18

"Lost Illusions" by Balzac

20/07/18

A pretty good start to my week off; I have been offered a solo show!

21/07/18

Justine McDonnell  's "A Composition of She" in the   Golden Thread Gallery  , Belfast

Justine McDonnell's "A Composition of She" in the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.

22/07/18

Stunning paintings by   Elizabeth Magill   at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

Stunning paintings by Elizabeth Magill at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

23/07/18

An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

Too many ideas floating around.

NB:  To loosen up before working from chosen imagery, I want to try and do some work from life beforehand.  Can't do any harm.

A five minute self portrait study

A five minute self portrait study

24/07/18

"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the   CCA, Derry

"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the CCA, Derry

A trip to Derry for meetings and gallery visits.

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

I first saw Colin Davidson's 'Silent Testimony' three years ago in the Ulster Museum. Today it was in the Nerve Visual Gallery in Derry.  Still so powerful.  The 'us and them' mentality is nonexistent and removing divisive language and politics reveals the human suffering on all sides.  It is so important.  So glad to have seen it again.

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Have multiple little eggs going on at the moment.

Imagine... Rose Wylie on BBC iPlayer

...where presence is evident...

"I think you're a lot happier if you don't mind a bit of imperfection." - Rose Wyllie

25/07/18

The two sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles translates to "Manifold Strife" and "Truly Glorious" respectively.  Might just be the title of a new painting that's been started.

Good news: I have two works pre-selected for the Royal Ulster Academy 2018.  Fingers crossed!

26/07/18

"What's for you won't go past you."

Progress on a small painting study

Progress on a small painting study

TAL R on Louisiana Channel

"It's strange, but you can't make a painting without content. Content is not like solving a problem in school or university. Content much more means that you've built up enough reason to do it. And content is also shitty because if you begin to identify too much with the content then you can't move. There are too many people shouting out in the chorus. Content starts you up and you leave it behind. It doesn't mean that you remove yourself from the content but it's too cumbersome to carry along. So when I'm working, it's not mechanical at all but it's cool headed because I'm not questioning the content. I've left it behind. It's interesting to say that content is crap, but you can't live without it." - TAL R

27/07/18

Four works in progress in the studio

Four works in progress in the studio

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"  - painting in progress

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" - painting in progress

Really pleased with how "A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" is shaping up.

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"You have to create something that lives in a kind of mystery." - TAL R

28/07/18

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Worked on "Rehearsal Study" today.  Played with skin tone and facial features using an air compressor to manipulate the paint. A slightly less controlled appearance.

31/07/18

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So pleased to have been able to attend the iDA reception event at the Atypical Gallery in Belfast.  This website is only possible through the iDA grant from atypical and the Arts Council fo Northern Ireland so I'm extremely grateful for their continued support and guidance.  Congratulations to all the award recipients this year!

Whoever heard of a Black Artist?" on BBC iPlayer.

Seven Months Later...

Slieve Gallion ('the mountain of the heights' in Gaelic) is a peak at the south end of the Sperrin mountains which straddle Derry and Tyrone in the North West of Northern Ireland.  It can be seen from my home and I have fond memories of family members telling stories and singing "Slieve Gallion Braes" when growing up.

Usually the longest it would take to finish a painting would be three months.  If you include the hiatus the canvas took in March, April and part of May then from beginning to end "The Mountain of the Heights" took seven months.  I usually merge imagery but here I was unsure.  I experimented adding a mother and child image but this took away from the original image so I eventually decided the mountain needed to stand on its own.

 

 

RDH: 27/05/18 - 30/06/18

27/25/18

Munk Debates

NB:- "Imprint": washes over selected charcoal marks makes for a more painterly and softer outcome whilst still retaining the drawing element - it's just not as overwhelming.  Marrying the two worlds.  Artistically I'm in a good place.  It's utilising time more effectively.

28/05/18

On Hodler's "Night":  covered figure personifies death as an intensification of sleep.  On the back of the canvas Hodler wrote: "There is many a people who lies down to rest in the evening but who does not wake up in the morning."

"Night" by Ferdinand Hodler - 1899/90 -  Museum of Fine Arts Bern

"Night" by Ferdinand Hodler - 1899/90 - Museum of Fine Arts Bern

"Riot" and "Chidren of the Stage" started.

"Children of the Stage" - early progress.

"Children of the Stage" - early progress.

Haven't painted on board in two years.  Keep forgetting how forgiving the surface is.

"Riot" piece started.

"Riot" piece started.

29/05/18

Hot air balloon in trouble over Draperstown medical centre.

Hot air balloon in trouble over Draperstown medical centre.

Started small canvas of "Cult" drawing I did five years ago.  Been a long time but its always good to keep everything - just in case.

"Cult" painting in progress.

"Cult" painting in progress.

30/05/18

Let's see what happens.

02/06/18

Playing about with "The Mountain of the Heights" - particularly the sky.  Intangible so the marks should be also.

Early layers of sky

Early layers of sky

03/06/18

"Rosetta II" by Jenny Saville - oil on watercolour paper mounted on board - 2005/06

"Rosetta II" by Jenny Saville - oil on watercolour paper mounted on board - 2005/06

"I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies." - Jenny Saville.

A.F. born today.

More progress in the sky of "The Mountain of the Heights".

More progress in the sky of "The Mountain of the Heights".

04/06/18

"The Mountain of the Heights" and "Imprint" on the studio wall.

"The Mountain of the Heights" and "Imprint" on the studio wall.

05/06/18

Notes from a previous workshop:

  • Turn off distractions

  • Centred space

  • Give yourself permission to move your practice forward.

  • Elevator pitch - needs work.

  • Find focus and priorities.

  • Studio days - regimented routine.

  • Be persistent and consistent.

  • Find unproductive habits + break them.

  • Defend creative time.

  • Slow down and hear your own ideas.

"Creativity is not a talent - it's a way of operating." - John Cleese

When you value serendipity, you start noticing it at work right away.

07/06/18

Awarded iDA from Atypical Gallery and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland!

09/06/18

Degree show work entitled "My Darlene" by photographer Ryan Hamilton.

Degree show work entitled "My Darlene" by photographer Ryan Hamilton.

Installation shot from Stephanie Tanney's degree show. Not unlike Holder's shrouded figure.

Installation shot from Stephanie Tanney's degree show. Not unlike Holder's shrouded figure.

A close up of one of Karl Hagan's stunning paintings at the  Belfast School of Art  degree show.

A close up of one of Karl Hagan's stunning paintings at the Belfast School of Art degree show.

One of Aimee Melaugh's atmospheric paintings at her degree show.

One of Aimee Melaugh's atmospheric paintings at her degree show.

Saw a lot of art.  A LOT OF ART.

Belfast School of Art degree show was fantastic but there were four stand out artists:

Ryan Hamilton in photography.

Stephanie Tanney in sculpture.

Karl Hagan in painting

Aimee Melaugh in painting.

The Golden Thread Gallery group exhibition "After an Act" was great.

"Submerge Form (Red)" by  Deb Covell  - 2017

"Submerge Form (Red)" by Deb Covell - 2017

David Moore's show in Belfast Exposed was really interesting.

The back wall of David Moore's exhibition entitled "Lisa and John" in Belfast Exposed.

The back wall of David Moore's exhibition entitled "Lisa and John" in Belfast Exposed.

10/06/18

Whiterocks beach just outside Portrush.

Whiterocks beach just outside Portrush.

11/06/18

Zero energy.  There are not enough hours in the day.  Structure.  Guilty of putting off work because of convenience.

Some sketchbook work done today but not enough.

Some sketchbook work done today but not enough.

13/06/18

Is yellow is the colour of hope?

"Selvportrett I Helvvette" by Edvard Munch - 1903 -  The Munch Museum, Oslo

"Selvportrett I Helvvette" by Edvard Munch - 1903 - The Munch Museum, Oslo

16/06/18

"Painting 1946" by Francis Bacon. Part of the  MoMA  collection.

"Painting 1946" by Francis Bacon. Part of the MoMA collection.

Bacon was fascinated by butcher shops as a child.  The figure in the painting said to be pre-war Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain - known for carrying an umbrella.  This work is raw power, beauty and horror rolled in one.

My painter's table of 8 years.

My painter's table of 8 years.

18/06/18

Detail of "Cult" painting in progress.

Detail of "Cult" painting in progress.

Paint/draw with purpose.  Reasons - just because I can't pin them down doesn't mean they aren't there.

20/06/18

Lubaina Himid - take a "given history" from found objects and then "paint a history on them that isn;t as much talked about."  Daytime can't be squandered - every hour counts.

23/06/18

Bonnie keeping me company in the studio today.

Bonnie keeping me company in the studio today.

Painted pretty much up to 10pm tonight,.  Stuck in the zone.

24/06/18

Jan enjoying the sunset at Rosses Point, Sligo.

Jan enjoying the sunset at Rosses Point, Sligo.

Trip to Rosses Point.  So hot too and great to bump into Rob and Sally.  Small world.

25/06/18

View of "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" in the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo.

View of "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" in the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo.

Great to see familiar names (Lisa Ballard, Alison Pilkington and Clement McAleer) in the Hamilton Gallery's group exhibition 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'.

One of my favourite pieces in the Hamilton Gallery had to be "Spirit of the Aviator" by  Brian McDonagh .

One of my favourite pieces in the Hamilton Gallery had to be "Spirit of the Aviator" by Brian McDonagh.

26/06/18

Trip to The Model in Sligo town before home.  A wonderful space.

Outside The Model, Sligo.

Outside The Model, Sligo.

Massive painting by  Antje Majewski  in the "Future Perfect" exhibition, The Model, Sligo

Massive painting by Antje Majewski in the "Future Perfect" exhibition, The Model, Sligo

28/06/18

Close up of "Cult" - Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

Close up of "Cult" - Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

Slowly getting back into the rhythm of working again.  Finished "Cult".  The small child is considerably creepier than expected.  More work to "Mountain of the Heights" - been looking at Cezanne's multiple treatments of Mont Sainte-Victoire for some sort of guidance.

Getting there with "The Mountain of the Heights".

Getting there with "The Mountain of the Heights".

Extremely hot in the studio - close to 30°C.

30/06/18

I have Sickert's "Ennui" on my mind. 

"Ennui" by Walter Richard Sickert - 1914 - part of  Tate Collection

"Ennui" by Walter Richard Sickert - 1914 - part of Tate Collection

"Cult" - Work in Progress

"Cult"&nbsp;  WORK IN PROGRESS

"Cult"  WORK IN PROGRESS

This is a paint study of a sketch from seven years ago.  I came across an image of a Holy festival in Seville that dates back to the 16th Century - a long time before the Ku Klux Klan donned regalia which bares a strong resemblance.