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Clean Palette.

Clean Palette.


Spider skin

Spider skin



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.



Wrapping process.



Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.


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).


‘ 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.


Getting there with the small chores.


Otto Dix - War Triptych


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.




Material delivery!


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?


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: MAY 2019


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.


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.


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


One very creepy window display.

One very creepy window display.


Great Art show: “Goya: Flesh and Blood”

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


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

Study of an Uncle.

Study of an Uncle.


Really happy with how the studio went today.


Completed “ The Lost Woods Study ”.

Completed “The Lost Woods Study”.


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.


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.


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




“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”.



Late night sketchbook work.

Late night sketchbook work.

"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, 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.


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"