Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Silhouette


Here is a little Christmas image I did as a gift for a friend.
I always liked the stolid character of St Joseph in the Nativity story, and now, having travelled with my own wife when she was pregnant on a few long journeys over the years, I have more sympathy for him than ever.
I think that shows in my picture.

Happy Christmas, and thank you for looking in on my blog.
Best wishes
PJ

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the Ridge of the Two Spirits of the Air


I was asked along with eleven other Irish illustrators to contribute an image to the AIB Calendar for 2009.
The theme was about special unknown places around Ireland.
We all had great freedom with the brief.
Here is my painting and the blurb I put with it.

'Dromahair is a magical place for me. It is in an area steeped in history and folklore.
WB Yeats visited the town often, and speaks of Dromahair in his poem,"The Man who dreamed of Faeryland":
My picture, set in the ruins of Creveelea Abbey on the hill above the town, is inspired by the etymology of the name: 'Droim a dhá Eathair' meaning "the Ridge of the two air-spirits".'

Thanks to BrenB for including me in this lovely project.
You can get a free copy of the calendar from AIB branches if you are a customer of theirs.

Life Drawing



It's been quite a while since I posted any life drawings.
I was delighted to be invited by James Hanley RHA to join in the RHA life drawing session last week. We had a wonderful model who was asked to retain one pose over the full four hour session. He had breaks every twenty five minutes.
Here is one of the drawings I produced. I spent two hours on it, and it was a lovely feeling to have that luxury of time to finish the picture up as much as I wanted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Lost Fragment from Melisande


Cleaning away all the roughs and reference material I was using for Nutcracker, I came across this image.
I did it a long time ago for a New York bibliophile called Barry Klugerman who commissioned it to go with his copy of Melisande.
I think it's as good as any of the pictures in the book itself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A little bit of media news.

I hear there might be some coverage of The Gift of the Magi in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent tomorrow, Saturday.
I hope they will be kind.

Also I have just done a very brief Vox Pop for the BBC Radio 4 programme, Making History.
They are doing an investigation into where Dickens might have taken his inspiration for his character of Ebenezar Scrooge.
The programme is usually very interesting, so it might be worth a listen.
It goes out at 3pm next Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Nutcracker Exhibit at W5

Here are some images from the Nutcracker Exhibit at W5.

The Launch of The Gift of the Magi

Getting back to the launch of The Gift of the Magi and my retrospective on-line exhibition which took place about two weeks ago, I've finally had a chance to put together a few photos from that joyous night.
It was held at Dublin's wonderful No10 venue.
Here are a few photographs from the evening.
There are still some paintings for sale on-line.

PJ Lynch in conversation with Dr Pat Donlon, NLI


It has been a hectic few weeks.
Last night I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my dear friend, Pat Donlon, at the National Library of Ireland.
Here's a shot of me signing books at the event.
It was a really lovely occasion, beautifully managed by the staff of the National Library, and also by the folks from Children's Books Ireland who co-hosted the event.
And I mustn't forget Conor Hacket, who was a great help as usual, and Valentina and Marta from Hughes and Hughes who were selling books on the night.
Pat was on really good form. She is such a lovely person, but she is also the consumate professional, and a true authority on the history of Irish Children's books.
I first met Pat when she was the Director of the National Library, and she and Collette O Daly purchased a large number of my pictures to initiate the PJ Lynch collection in the Library's archive.
I am delighted that Collette's successors in Prints and Drawings, Joanna Finnegan and Honora Faul, have continued to add pieces of mine to the collection over the years since then.

Pat Donlon and her husband Phelim, are now custodians of The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. It's a wonderful old house in the country where artists and writers can go for a period of intense creativity in the most conducive of surroundings. I can't wait to go.

I would hope to get the video or a podcast from the interview up here at some point.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Nutcracker


I'm told that W5's preparations for the Nutcracker display are going really well.
I feel I should be up there painting walls and hoisting figures into position, but I know Adrian and the gang have everything under control, and I'm really busy wrapping up pictures that have been bought from our on-line exhibition.
As well as the walk through experience W5 are mounting an exhibition of my original paintings and sketches for the project. This will be the third exhibition of my work that they have hosted over the last five years or so.
I'll be doing a lot of filming at the show, so hopefully I'll be able to capture some of the fun on our youTube page.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Nutcracker, the Battle scene


The Nutcracker display appears to be shaping up well.
I've done my all I can do, and anytime I think about it I wish I had done something differently.
But that's always the way with me.
Adrian, who is the head of design up at W5, sent me this picture of the big prints going into position.
They are using the latest printing technology which gives amazing results at high magnification.
Here's an early rough I did for the battle scene to compare with the photo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PJ Lynch Retrospective On-line Exhibition


My Retrospective Exhibition is now on-line.
Do please check it out on my website.
My friend Susan has done tremendous work to get it all up there and looking so well.
I hope you'll enjoy the virtual gallery experience.
Have a virtual glass of wine on me!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Nutcracker


W5 in Belfast are getting all geared up for their Nutcracker Fantasy walk-through experience.
I'm just adding a few last little touches myself, and the team at W5 are getting on with putting together the huge blown up prints to create what will be a kind of giant pop-up book. The experience will be heightened with Tchaikovsky's music and all sorts of special effects.
There is a lot to do and not a whole lot of time left before it opens in early December.
I really can't wait to see how it will look.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lincoln at the Great Western Railroad Depot in Springfield


Here's another from "Lincoln and his Boys".
The speech I quoted from in the previous post was spoken at the Great Western Railroad Depot in Springfield, Illinois. The depot is still there, preserved as it was on the day that Lincoln left.
When I visited Springfield with Rosemary Wells, we sought it out, and I took hundreds of photos from every angle, knowing that I would be illustrating this scene of Lincoln and Willie returning from Chicago. However there was no way I could make the composition work and also show the depot in the background.
This was a case where it was important to jettison the great research I had done for the sake of a better picture.
That kind of background research is never wasted though. It meant a lot to me to stand where Lincoln had been, and to see some of the things he and his family had seen.
Here is a shot of the depot as it is to-day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Obama picture from "Lincoln and his Boys"


In this historic week in US politics, I thought I'd share this picture from the forthcoming book, "Lincoln and his Boys" by Rosemary Wells.
I was working on it at about the time that Barack Obama declared in Springfield, Illinois, that he was running for President.

Shortly after the confederate stronghold of Richmond was taken by the Union forces, Lincoln was urged to parade with troops through the centre of the ruined city. Not wishing to glory in the defeat of the South, he chose instead to walk through Richmond with his son, Tad.
This was a very tricky picture for me, in that Rosemary's text accurately describes how the former slaves threw themselves at Lincoln's feet calling him Father Abraham.
But was important for me to present the scene in a dignified way. I wanted to show the joy of the crowd surrounding Lincoln and Tad, but I needed to hint at the mixed emotions and foreboding that some of the people would have had, and also to show a measure of defiant strength.
All of this is focussed in the thoughtful individual holding his hat at the lower left in what is compositionally, the counterpoint to Lincoln's position.

Obama is a stirring orator, but he'll have to go some to match Abraham Lincoln, whose speeches contain some of the most poetic and inspiring words ever spoken.
As President elect Obama prepares to take on his great challenges, to address the financial crisis and to try to redeem the position of the US in the world, I think of some lines that Lincoln spoke as he left Springfield for the last time, knowing that he was facing almost inevitably into Civil War.

"My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail...."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Snow Fairies from the Nutcracker


Here's another from the W5 Nutcracker project.
In case any one is in Belfast during December, W5 will be exhibiting all of the roughs and artwork that I have done for it in their BT gallery.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Nutcracker, the Gingerbread Village


I'm working on a very unusual project at the moment. W5 in Belfast have asked me to design a fantasy walk through experience for Christmas. The theme is taken from the ballet of the Nutcracker.
This rough shows the Gingerbread Village with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince in the foreground.
There will be various free-standing "pop-up" elements so it will be very interesting to see how it actually works when my illustrations are blown up and all put together.
W5 has a great team so I'm hopeful that it will all come together nicely.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Snow Queen


Here's a picture I haven't looked at for quite a while. In some ways it doesn't really look like one of my pictures.
I hunted it out for our upcoming on-line exhibiton which will go live in about two weeks on the main website.
This scene is from the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
What an amazing story it is. There is an awful lot in it, which makes it quite unwieldy as a picture book text, but so much of the imagery is so inventive that I had to have a go at it.
My version came out in 1994. The publisher, Andersen Press, will be issuing a new edition with a new cover next year hopefully.
Here's a chunk of the text that this image illustrates.

"She ran on as fast as she could. There then came a whole regiment of
snow-flakes, but they did not fall from above, and they were quite
bright and shining from the Aurora Borealis. The flakes ran along
the ground, and the nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda well
remembered how large and strange the snow-flakes appeared when she
once saw them through a magnifying-glass; but now they were large and
terrific in another manner--they were all alive. They were the outposts
of the Snow Queen. They had the most wondrous shapes; some looked like
large ugly porcupines; others like snakes knotted together, with their
heads sticking out; and others, again, like small fat bears, with the
hair standing on end: all were of dazzling whiteness--all were living
snow-flakes.

Little Gerda repeated the Lord's Prayer. The cold was so intense that
she could see her own breath, which came like smoke out of her mouth.
It grew thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels, that grew
more and more when they touched the earth. All had helms on their heads,
and lances and shields in their hands; they increased in numbers; and
when Gerda had finished the Lord's Prayer, she was surrounded by a whole
legion.
They thrust at the horrid snow-flakes with their spears, so that
they flew into a thousand pieces; and little Gerda walked on bravely and
in security. The angels patted her hands and feet; and then she felt the
cold less, and went on quickly towards the palace of the Snow Queen."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recent School Visits


This is me giving a presentation recently at Our Lady & St Patrick's College in Knock near Belfast.
I did another the same day at Belfast Girls' Model School.
It was a great pleasure to meet and talk to young people who were mostly very interested in art as a possible career.
Especially as they were from my own home town.
When I was at school there was only one other student doing art in sixth form, and I was the first from my school to go on to Art College for many years.
By contrast, there were dozens of youngsters from these two schools considering going to Art College.
I made a big point of showing books by Martin Waddell, Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram, Flora McDonnell and Oliver Jeffers, all of whom are from or live in Northern Ireland, just to show the success that local artists and writers have had in the world of children's books.
There's another name to add to the list.
Emily Donegan, in year 14 at Knock, has already illustrated children’s book, "Alfred and the Pirates".
She did it when she was just fifteen years old.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow


I've just finished reading "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow "
by Jessica Day George.
It's a wonderful novelisation of the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" which I illustrated back in the early 1990s.
Jessica was good enough to acknowledge my book in her bibliography at the back of her book, and has written on her website of how my illustrations had inspired her imagination when she was younger.
For me it was the most unusual experience to be reading this terrific book and often coming across scenes or descriptions that had clearly been influenced by the work I did all those years ago.
I was very proud that my work had energised this young person's creativity, and although not many readers will go on to actually create a novel as Jessica has, it's exciting to think that my books might sometimes affect people as deeply as that.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ignis


This landscape from Ignis gives us a nice change of pace.
It's one of the pieces that will be in my forthcoming show.
I always think it's nice to see a painting without the text panel covering it up.
I really liked the sunset effect in this one. It's not just for effect though, it does illustrate what happens in the text at that point, with the last rays of the sun hitting the mountain top.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Hag from "East of the Sun, and West of the Moon"


I've been going through a lot of my old work for an exhibition that's coming up in November.
Mostly it's good to see pictures I haven't looked at for years, but sometimes I look at work and I wonder what on Earth I was thinking.
Generally my criticism is that I have laboured too much over a picture to try to make it work better.
Here's one where I think I got the technique just right.


She is one of the Hags from "East of the Sun, and West of the Moon".
The painting is only about 6 x 8 inches in size, but there's a lot in there.
I've got to get back to doing some more drawing like that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

White Vase on Damask


Another still life here, I don't think I've posted this one before.
It's a bit more of a traditional still life than the chairs and the cottage interiors, but I think it shows the same restraint in tone and colour.
I did a few of these pictures with damask, but there is just so much work involved that I doubt if I'll do a lot more of them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Still Life with Chair and Brush


Here's another from that series of still life/interiors.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hammershøi's Chair


When I dug out my oil paints to paint the Gulliver panels, I really fell in love with the process again.
The smell and the viscosity of the paints, the effects that can be achieved with them, and also the need to work on a much larger scale, all seemed to point up areas where I was frustrated with my watercolour painting.
I started to work on easel paintings as a kind of a relief from the illustration work I was doing, and I chose simple non narrative subjects so that the only things I had to worry about, were the arrangement of the shapes on the canvas, and the tones and the colours.
I'm not about to embrace the undoubted joys of abstract painting just yet, but whilst my instinct always moves towards the representational with at least hint of a narrative, this picture is really about my playing with close harmonies in colour within a framework of very formal shapes.
In that respect, this piece reminds me more than a little of the work of Sean Scully or Piet Mondrian.( There's a couple of names you wouldn't expect to see on my blog)
In fact the artist whose influence shows most in this work is probably Vilhelm Hammershøi .

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stickback Chair by a Window


This picture of a chair by a window is from the same series as the Plank Door.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cottage Plank Door


Speaking of almost empty pictures, here is an oil painting which is simply a study of light falling on a plank door in an old cottage.
I can't quite believe I painted this one.
I love the formal arrangement of planes, and the nice sketchy rendering of the door itself.
I hope to do a lot more simple and evocative pieces like this.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"The Street Where I Live"


I've submitted a couple of oil paintings for the Ranelagh Arts Festival.
The theme of the show was "The Street Where I Live".
This picture shows a view of an old pub that is near where I live, and the very modern house that has been built next door to it. I think the juxtaposition of the two architectural styles is wonderfully successful. Indeed the modern house is part built with the same red brick as the pub, so that in parts the two blend seamlessly.

I painted this in August when it seemed to rain every day,
It was a lovely change to paint a picture mostly comprised of buildings, but the illustrator in me always comes through, hence the addition of the person struggling along with the umbrella.
Perhaps he's heading for the pub and a hot whisky.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Sarah, Plain and Tall", the artwork


Here is the full painting of the "Sarah, Plain and Tall" book cover, showing that nice old house on the back.
I've loved Andrew Wyeth's work since I was at school, and I think I was trying to achieve a little of the flavour of his work in this piece.
It wasn't until I got to art college that I discovered the work of his father, NC Wyeth, who then became one of my all time favourite artists.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Sarah, Plain and Tall"

I was talking in an earlier post about the cover I once did for "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan.

I managed to locate the paperback cover, but I'll add a picture of the original watercolour art soon, as the back cover shows the old prairie house, which is probably my favourite part of the image.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Fest 2008 at the National Gallery of Ireland

Here are a few photos from last weekend's Sunday Independent Book Fest 2008.
My event took place in the Shaw room of the National Gallery of Ireland. I don't think I've ever done a presentation in quite such majestic surroundings.


Niamh Sharkey(above), did a brilliant presentation first, reading from her books, and showing the children how to draw Henry Hugglewug.
When it was my turn I got straight into the drawing and, because I'd done some important preparation, it went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The blurb on the poster had said that I would reveal the secrets of illustration, and I took that quite seriously. The key secret involved getting the children to draw on gray paper, using black wax crayons and then highlighting with white chalk. It is by far the quickest way to achieve a complete tonal range, but I don't think I learned this trick until I was about eighteen.

The kids and their parents seemed to enjoy it, and they did some great castle drawings, and afterwards Niamh and I got to meet people and sign books in the Gallery's bookshop.
Many thanks to Conor Hacket for the photos.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Home from the Front"

Sorting through my shelves of old work can turn up some surprises.
I did this piece as a sample just after I left art college in Brighton.



I think that this piece, in it's controlled use of colour, and in the watercolour/bodycolour technique prefigures the illustration style I would adopt ten years later when I illustrated The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.
I like the fact that the narrative is not too explicit.
The whole feel of the picture comes from the model's pose and the rendering of the cap and greatcoat. It reminds me how much I was looking at the work of Norman Rockwell at that time.
The model was Chris Riddell, a fellow student of mine at Brighton.
Chris was always an amazingly talented draughtsman, and he has had a very successful career as both a political cartoonist, and a creator of children's books.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Flay, first Servant of Groan. The Gormenghast Trilogy

This blog has been a great help to me in taking a look back over the period that I have been working as an illustrator.
I did this piece as a calling card for art directors when I had just left college, 'round about 1985 I'd say.
At the time I had just read the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake, and I was fascinated by his truly fantastic vision of a an ancient castle kingdom inhabited by a collection of unforgettable characters.


Flay, the old family protector, creeps around the corridors and passageways of Gormenghast keeping watch over the more sinister elements that might threaten the status quo. His presence is betrayed by the loud clicking of his knees.
When I did this picture all those years ago, Flay would have seemed ridiculous and purely comical to me.
I have become more sympathetic to him in recent years.
I particularly think of poor old Flay when, each morning, I descend the stairs to the kitchen with a loud clicking from each knee.
Flay's solution was to wrap strips of material around his knees to silence the sound.
I think a bit more cycling might help in my case.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sunday Independant's Books 2008 Festival

I'm doing a drawing session at the Sunday Independant's Books 2008 Festival on Saturday the 6th August at noon.
It's taking place in the Shaw room of the National Gallery of Ireland.
I've only got a half hour slot so I won't have time to talk much about my work, I'll just say hello and start drawing.
I'm not sure what I'll draw.
When I do these events there is always a very clear gender split. The boys want to draw gross, violent stuff that I also enjoy drawing, and most of the girls want to draw fairies and princesses.
Maybe I'll try a gross, violent princess this time.

There will be a "PJ Lynch" evening event for adults at the National Library of Ireland in early December . The Library will be mounting an exhibition of my work that they have in their Prints and Drawings section.


Here's one of my ink drawings from the Library's collection.
I'm very excited about that event. I'll post more details closer to the date.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Lincoln and his Boys"

If you watched that slideshow/film showing all my book covers you might have noticed "Lincoln and his Boys" at the end.
It's a wonderful novel by Rosemary Wells dealing with the close loving relationship that Lincoln had with his sons, Willie and Tad.
I learned a lot from Rosemary's story, and from all the research I did into the subject. And the more I read about Lincoln, the more I liked and admired him.
Rosemary and I even took a trip together to Springfield, Illinois to visit Lincoln's home and the Presidential Museum and Library there.
It was great to see the exact carpet or curtains or wallpaper that Lincoln and his family knew. Unfortunately the fashion then was for very garish colours and extravagant patterning.

I was able to do lots of other really useful research, including a visit to the Railway Depot that has been preserved as it was the day that Lincoln and his family departed Springfield for Washington.
Too much research can be a bad thing though. It can get in the way of making a good simple and striking illustration.
When you have read all those books and photographed all those settings, it can be very hard to choose to leave a lot of extraneous stuff out. I'm too close to the book to tell how successful or otherwise I was with my pictures. In ten years time I'll be able to decide.
I only had to do fifteen or so plates for this book, but I had enough material for fifty pictures, and there were so many scenes that I really wanted to show.
I suspect I will have to revisit the fascinating subject of Abraham Lincoln in some way in the future.

Rosemary is best known for writing and illustrating for younger children, but this book shows her tremendous talent as a novelist.
The book is published in the USA in January 2009.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

I've just recieved an advance copy of "Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out".
It's a book all about the history of the White House, and I was asked, along with more than one hundred other writers and artists, to contribute something to the book.
I was delighted that the story I was given to illustrate was "Hands" by Patricia MacLachlan, the author of "Sarah, Plain and Tall" among many other wonderful books.

"Hands" is a lovely little story about Eleanor Roosevelt. I was very impressed by everything I read about her in my research for this piece, which made doing the artwork even more of a pleasure.
I painted it in oils as I was pretty fed up with my constant struggle with the medium of watercolour. Since I completed this piece last year, I have done a good deal more work in oils.

I met Patricia MacLachlan at the Keene State College Children's Literature Festival a year or two back. She's what American's would call a "great old broad" and what we Irish would call "great gas", as well as being a terrific writer.
"Sarah, Plain and Tall" is one of my favourite novels, and I even did a cover for it once. I'll have to dig that out and post it up on the blog.
Hopefully I'll collaborate with Patricia again at sometime in the future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Profile of PJ Lynch from the BBC's "The Hungry Eye"



Here is a short BBC film, directed by Maeve O Cathain about my early books.
Made in the mid-nineties, it features my work on The Snow Queen, Catkin and East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
I was living and working in a basement apartment in Dublin at that time. The only heating was an open fire, and most of the smoke came into the living room, so that for the time I lived there I was always pretty unhealthy. I certainly look unhealthy in the film.
My landlady was the writer Polly Devlin. She is an extra-ordinary, larger than life character.
I came to know Polly's sister, Marie Heaney, and her husband the poet Seamus Heaney. Some years later I illustrated a book of Marie's Irish myths and legends, The Names Upon The Harp.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dickensian Rooftops completed


Here is how the final illustration looked in my version of A Christmas Carol.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dickensian Rooftops



One of the strange things about being a Children's book illustrator is that in the middle of summer I am very often working on cards, stamps or books with a Christmas flavour.
Right now I'm drawing a terrace of snow covered buildings for a boxed set cover. My research brought me back to this drawing I did of Dickensian rooftops for my version of A Christmas Carol. I always love doing this type of picture, and I usually fit one into my books.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Digital Christmas Card

I was a slow starter when it came to computers, but, when I discovered what could be done in Photoshop, I really got into it.
I haven't published any images that I have created in photoshop, but at some stage I would like to do a whole book digitally.



This image, which is based, of course, on Leonardo's The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist, is typical of the jokey kind of personal work that I have created on my computer.
I made this one as a Christmas card in 2001, when our first son was about nine months old.
This was pretty much an indulgence, but it was also a great way to learn blending techniques.
You can see how I use photoshop when I am composing a picture in one of my step by step videos, "Making Fairy Tales" with Full Commentary Part 1

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Samhlaíocht Na Sí

Here's a magical little Irish language film about my work made by the award-winning Irish film maker, Neasa Ní Chianáin, a number of years ago.
Neasa made it when she was just getting into film. In fact this was her first broadcast film.
She has since won many awards for her documentaries, and a film she made about the Irish poet, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, last year was without doubt the most talked about Irish film of the year.

The commentary is as gaeilge, that is, in Irish. I don't understand half of it but that somehow adds to the beauty and mystery of the piece.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Art Room pencil study 1979


This drawing shows a much more mature approach than the previous two, but it was also done when I was seventeen or eighteen.
I was moving away from crudely outlining everything, and showing form almost entirely by use of carefully controlled tonal values.
I wish I'd carried on on this tack a bit longer. It's nearly thirty years later, and only now am I getting back into enjoying drawing and painting still life again.

Old Drawings from School Days


When I was visiting my mother last week, I dug out a lot of old drawings that she has kept since I was at school.
It was great to see them after so long. These two are from when I was seventeen in 1979.
I had hair back then of course. Lots of it.

I used to do loads of drawings from life then, mostly of myself for want of anything else to draw.
Art teachers mostly had kids drawing boots and cabbages, if they drew from life at all.
I remember that my art teachers, Messers Maguire and McFadden, used to get the younger kids to sit for me. I was lucky with my teachers, they were a couple of good guys.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Group Exhibition in Belfast


Here is a recent oil painting that I did for an IGI group exhibition that's now showing at the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast.
Our brief was to select a favourite painting and to do our own version of it.
I've always loved Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and so here was a nice opportunity to pay an homage to that great Dutch master.
And I made a little movie showing how I painted the picture.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Fallen Soldier


Here is the whole of that sculpture.

I would love to do more sculpture, but I find it really hard to find the time.
I'm actually working more on the oil painting right now. It seems that whatever discipline I'm working in I'm always aspiring to get into something different.
I think that's probably a healthy state of mind for an artist.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fallen Soldier


I've been away and so haven't posted anything for a while.
We were on holiday in Brittany and Normandy, and passed several of the war graves there.
I was reminded of this sculpture that I did some time ago.
The subject is a fallen soldier.
I was thinking of the many men who were executed in Ireland and Europe during the second decade of the the twentieth century.
This figure could be a soldier from any army.

I have to say it breaks my heart to think of all the young men who have lost their lives upon the whim of generals and politicians.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stamps designs: Nollaig 1999

These are roughs for a set of stamps that I designed for Christmas 1999.
They are my favourites of all the stamps I have done for An Post, perhaps because my nephews and niece modelled as the children in the nativity play.

And here are the finished stamps.