reflective diary highlights

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.

canvas-edge-detail.jpg

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.

medb-and-bull.jpg

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: 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: FEBRUARY 2019

01/02/19

Slight change of tact…

02/02/19

silver-birchJPG

03/02/19

Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”

Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”

05/02/19

Lagging behind.

06/02/19

Applications submitted.

09/02/19

DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to DISTRACTIONS leads to NOT DOING WORK leads to FEELINGS OF GUILT leads to … etc etc.

How do you combat this?

“Discipline is key" - JG

Break the cycle by physically setting time aside for practice. Depending on the day of the week and other commitments, the type of productive work will differ.

10/02/19

Cleaning the palette

Cleaning the palette

12/02/19

One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.

One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.

16/02/19

“What’s for you won’t go past you.”

Reworked pattern and colours on clown today.

17/02/19

studio-shot-17-02-19.JPG

Great to get painting today albeit a little later than I would have liked.

Counting works - didn’t realise there were so many!

23/02/19

Belfast. Great to see the last day of ‘The Question of Feeling at Home’ in PS² - curated by Moran Been-Noon. Bonus to get a run down from Moran about the show and to see Cecilia Bullo’s work in the flesh! Been excited to see it since her talk in the DLR LexIcon last year. Next was a visit to Belfast Exposed for the ACNI collection show with a solo show by Linda Conroy in the upstairs space. Conroy’s work is disturbing and utterly absorbing at the same time. Removing notions of the individual from religious ritual resonated with me personally. Then it was on to ‘Porous Plane’ by Lennon in the Golden Thread Gallery. The sheer scale and vibrancy of the work was immense. In the information leaflet it says that “no knowledge is required to enjoy the beauty of these paintings” and that Lennon “invites each of us to find ourselves and arrive at our own inclusions”. Leaving room for the viewer is something I’m particularly keen on.

Lastly onto the wonderful ‘Alternate Perspective’ in Platform featuring work by Aimee MeLaugh and Karl Hagan. Both reflect on ‘memory, people, places and trauma’. The grandeur of history painting coupled with highly personal and intimate narratives. Wonderful painting exhibition.

25/02/19

flame.JPG

Project profile submitted.

27/02/19

It’s the journey not the destination.

28/02/19

Nearly into third month and nothing really to show for it. Plenty of works in progress but not enough progress being made.

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

0712a.JPG

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.

candle.JPG

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

28/07/18

rehearsal-study-brian-kielt.JPG

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

university-of-atypical-ida-award-belfastJPG

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.

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