sketchbook work

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


… all but done…


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.


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.


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.



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.



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





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

Submission writing hurts my head.


Films to watch:

‘Deer Hunter’

‘Inland Empire’

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

’Kill List’


‘Fruitvale Station’

‘Green Room’


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


Help has been indispensable.


Still waiting on magazine.


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




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.


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.


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?


“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


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

“The Victim” - Saul Bellow


Tried sketchbook work - failed miserably.


Projection onto fog screen.




Line of connection between viewer and work - GO’H

Ask the question: what do you see?


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.


Need to select paintings for Framewerk Christmas show.


“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.


A difficult few weeks to come.