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.