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RDH: JULY 2019


Slow but important work on “Bogland” today. Thinking a lot about Sickert.

It’s been a rough week but finally seeing positives.

Sketchbook time.


Meditate and Release.


Found ‘failed’ middle panel of “Pioneer Studies”. Works on it’s own merit. Must have been a weak link at the time.

Rework maybe?

Rework maybe?


Submission sent. A glutton for punishment.


Bit later in the day for studio time but spent longer tonight to make up for it.

Some texture with sawdust.

Some texture with sawdust.

Colours are popping and really contrast from the blurred background. Still trying to maintain the mantra of “MAKE EVERY PAINTING A STUDY” but it’s hard when the focal point is a figure where it seems to be falling short.

More integration of sawdust needed? Question everything?

The smallest brush in the arsenal.

The smallest brush in the arsenal.


Didn’t get to sleep until 5am. It’s not my fault.

Crisp morning breeze. Brought a rose in.

Staring at work, the foreground, which I tolerated a few weeks ago, now seems flat. Texture, perspective and overlapping of light and shade required.





Ballydugan Mill

Ballydugan Mill


Amazing day at G &N’s wedding yesterday! Trying to get a bit of studio work in now before a much needed early night!


Frustrating. Two steps forward, two steps back. No better off but not worse off either.


“Never mind that nobody bought them! Do them! Tell your story!”

Faith Ringgold

“He who follows is always behind.”

Paul Cézanne


How to get back in the creative mindset?


“Asking for Trouble” - pen on paper

“Asking for Trouble” - pen on paper

‘What gets measured gets done’ is a quote is heard rattled around today.


Plenty of little niggly bits to run through. Let’s not fall into that usual trap of realism!


Am I focusing too much on that main figure?

b.s.r. detail

Right… don’t panic!


Strange birthday. Nothing bad, just strange.

Beautiful sketchbook from Jan.

Beautiful sketchbook from Jan.


Didn’t get through. Plough on!


Intense building.


Trying not to waste to so much paint. Working on “Sack Race” - shadows and sack texture.

“ Ferryman ”: painterly background. Leaving it early.

Ferryman”: painterly background. Leaving it early.


“As an artist you should be the one to sing off key.”

Nicholas Hlobo


A non-studio art day. Starting new sketchbook. Smaller sale seems to suit drawing technique. I think I came to this realisation some time ago but it must have slipped the memory.


Arena’s Cindy Sherman: #untitled was great! Chameleon. Film stills and centre pieces are still some of my favourite works.



“I trust you to make the narrative”

Olafur Eliasson


“Art can offer a chance for self examination”

Olafur Eliasson


RDH: JUNE 2019


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.



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.


Great to meet up with folks today.



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.


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


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


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?”


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.



“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.


Treat every painting as a study.


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.


Knowledge / Creativity / Inspiration

Beginnings / Liberation



Summer Solstice. Pleased with how mesh fence is coming.


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.


Perfection is an illusion.


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


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.


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


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


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

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


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


Delivery mix up.


Booked VAI speed curating slots for November.

…LA… fingers crossed!


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.



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.


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.



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.


“ 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


World Mental Health Day.




“Into The Void Magazine” submission successful!


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



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.


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


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.


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


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.




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


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.


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.


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!



Slept so much. Slow progress but progress nonetheless.



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


Crunching numbers.


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

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.




Shocked. Head spirals backwards.  Sketchbook work today.


'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.



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


A research day.

A research day.


Studio wall

Studio wall

Refined some charcoal marks on the large landscape today.


"Traumatic Memory"

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


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.



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


Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Stretched a few canvases today.


detail of landscape in progress

detail of landscape in progress

Colours laid out and tightened back of landscape canvas.




"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.


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


A delivery of paints came today

A delivery of paints came today


"Lost Illusions" by Balzac


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


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'.


Stunning paintings by   Elizabeth Magill   at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

Stunning paintings by Elizabeth Magill at the Ulster Museum, Belfast


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


"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


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!


"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


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.


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



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.



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.