Sunday, June 29, 2014

PJ's Blackboard

Last week I learnt of the passing of a Legend! PJ Carroll, my secondary school art teacher was a legend among students and staff at St. Michael's College for near three decades.
To say he was a patient man doesn't quite cut it! He put up with some amount of tomfoolery, mischief and messing. Beyond all that it's safe to say we all loved him dearly and couldn't wait to get into his classroom for further 'artistic exploration'.

PJ, thank you for the incredibly generous reference you gave me for college. It was the most beautifully written referral I could have ever wished for and it helped greatly to secure my way into a career in the Arts. Thank you.

Rest In Peace PJ xx

Pj's Blackboard - oil on canvas - 20"x16" - sold
Private Collection, Ireland.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Same Same but Different, a Cup of Blessings.

A lesson on colour strategy presented in Gregg Kreutz' book prompted me to create this deeply layered study after one of his paintings. There is a huge amount of work in this piece, having started it back in late 2010 just before I left for New York to study in Gregg's class and open my second solo show there. I later returned to the work to heighten and refine certain areas with the knowledge I gleaned from spending time in Gregg's class with him and his dedicated students.

After this tribute I'll post one more image of a tonal arrangement inspired by a charcoal drawing by Gregg and then it's back to my own recent work. I have several new still life paintings I want to share with you.

Above: Cup of Blessings, after Kreutz - oil on canvas - 24"x18"
A study after a Gregg Kreutz painting with a concept on colour strategy.
Below: Detail from Cup of Blessings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Influences and Forging my Own Path.

With little or no formal education in painting I developed my earliest vision through drawings in college and keeping notebooks on my travels. In later years from about 2008 I sighted the books and works of the New York based painter Gregg Kreutz, whom in 20011 got to spend a couple of months with in studio at the Art Student League of New York. The books and works of Gregg Kreutz and his teacher David Leffel impacted me greatly when I was looking for some direction in oil painting. By studying their work and making copies after their paintings I learnt a huge amount as regards application and developing strong pictorial concepts for my paintings.

You know, putting your work out there into the world attracts different reactions. Encouragement, support, friendships, connections, help, positivity and negativity. Sometimes some and sometimes none, sometimes good and sometimes indifferent. I would say that 99.99% of the time in my life I have been met with just pure encouragement, understanding and support. This support started with my closest friends and families and has now spread throughout the world.

Some months ago just after my solo show at Jorgensen Fine Art in Dublin opened I was quizzed online by a fellow 'artist' in the UK who on seeing a press release, which used one of these such copies or studies made after Gregg's work, but did not reference the original work, which was a journalistic mistake as the paintings were clearly tributed to the artists in the gallery catalogue and on my blog over the past years. The artist claimed that there exists a convention for signing works made after other painters. A convention I had never heard of and one that any institutions I contacted said did not exist! This episode gave me a huge headache and could have been very damaging. It's funny how we humans can hold onto such negativity even if the remarks pale in comparison to the outpouring of support I recieved from my collectors, friends and fellow artists on hearing this debate. But I guess thats just part of the human condition. I would never consciously go to hurt another artist or his reputation - in fact it's part of my make-up to do nothing but encourage others to fulfill their dreams and passions no matter what field they may be exploring. I believe we all need understanding, encouragement and an occasional push out of our comfort zone to achieve our best. I know I've received it in bucket loads and want to do my very best.

During my time in New York this year I met many students copying from paintings in the Museums there. There only restrictions are that the scale of the copied work not be the same as the original. I also met with Gregg and we talked of this episode and putting it all behind us.

Below is a painting I made at the end of last year after a painting and lesson on colour saturation presented in Gregg's book entitled 'Problem Solving for Oil Painters'. I found this book really helpful as I could relate to the concepts and thinking explored throughout it's chapters. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their painting.

Since that episode I have learnt so much, I've put all differences or grievances behind me and most of all turned it to a positive and learnt to trust my own intuition and instincts more deeply. It was a tough lesson but a good one and I am determined now more than ever to forge my own path through my work. Making art takes dogged determination and brash ego at times. It's not easy by any means and you sacrifice a lot to keep doing it. But it's just so rewarding!

The Brass Cooking Pot, a study after a Gregg Kreutz painting lesson on colour saturation
 - oil on panel - 24x18 - sold

Detail from The Brass Cooking Pot, a study after a Gregg Kreutz painting.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Johns Hopkins Visit

Just two days ago I had the privilege to welcome nine students from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland to my studio and home here in the Burren. They were accompanyed by their incredible photography tutor Phyllis Berger and Howard Ehrenfeld also a photographic lecturer who has a strong background in painting.

Phyllis who travelled from Baltimore to New York in April earlier this year to see my show suggested that when she was back to Ireland next she would bring her students to see my work and discuss what I 'see' as I walk in the landscape.

Listening to the students talk about there experiences here in Ireland and the various studies they are involved in was fascinating. Boo prepared tea coffee and scones not to mention her homemade brownies which the students devoured! It was a wonderful coming together and great fun.

After we had established the various fields the students were working in, which ranged from Biology to English Literature I had the chance to show them some Observational Still life paintings followed by Landscape works, my works for the Shell project as well as discuss my current working methods in the studios.

Then we ventured outside. I asked the students.
What do you see?
What do you know, what interests you?
I'm interested to stimulate you to tell me what you know!

It was all very fascinating to hear of their personal and collective experiences here in Ireland.

I ended by saying.
'Know what your contemporaries do and what the old masters did but never fall into their conventions'. A bit of advice I have begun to take on board more seriously myself. Which leads me to my next blog post - coming soon.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sneak Peek. Curds and Honey.

One of the works in progress in the studio yesterday evening.
Curds and Honey - oil on lead primed linen panel - 12"x9".

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Onwards and Upwards and Building Rapport

My representative gallery in Dublin, Jorgensen Fine Art is closing it's doors for good this week. I just got off the phone with Sile Connaghton-Deeny, the galleries longtime Curator and Art Historian. I rang to wish her and Ib well! After my last show with the gallery Ib offered me another solo in three years time. I was naturally delighted as this would be something to work towards along with other exhibits organised both by myself and other galleries at home and abroad that I currently work with. The reasons for the gallery closing prematurely are, like in many cases in Dublin at the moment, a huge hike in rents! It's all so disproportionate but I think there maybe some serious development happening in this prime location over the coming years. Who knows? Anyway, 'onwards and upwards' I said to Sile, 'something better will come of it'.

Now, I will begin to look for another suitable gallery in Dublin in which I feel I can build a meaningful rapport. Any suggestions? Not an easy thing! And I did really enjoy showing my work and chats with Sile and Ib, they were both so interested and encouraging of my painting. But who knows where it might lead. It's all very exciting anyway.

Above a pic of my work at Jorgensen Fine Art, Dublin.
Promise I won't call to any galleries in my pyjamas as in the painting above!

- Richard

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SEPIL Commissioned Project 009 - I Was There!

Huge advances have been made at the Corrib Natural Gas project over the past few months.
One of the biggest milestones was the recent tunnel breakthrough of 'Fionnula', the TBM - Tunnel Boring Machine, which reached it's destination at a receptor pit in Glengad last week after it's 4.9km journey. I was there with photographer Henry Wills and videoographer Fergus Sweeney to witness this incredible feat of engineering and important milestone in the project for Shell. It was a once in a lifetime experience, to see this 140 meter long  machine, which had traveled near five kilometers under Sruwaddacon bay, appear with pinpoint accuracy at it's destination and watch the drivers emerge through the machines gears with a relic of St. Barbara, the patron saint of Tunnel workers and Miners, in their hands.

The occasion also brought to my mind Lars Wagner, who died tragically in September last year while working on the construction of the tunnel. Lars would have just been celebrating his twenty seventh birthday last week.

I'll be working up a painting to commemorate this important moment for all involved, but until then here are some photos I took on the day and a picture by Henry Wills which appeared in the Irish Times newspapers weekend issue.

Engineers set up carefully for Fionnula's arrival.

Engineers and workers for all the companies involved look on in excitement.

Recording the event, more expectant onlookers.

'Bam' Fionnula the TBM breaks through!

Operators Emerge from the gears of the machine and celebrate.
Photo by Henry Wills.

Fun moments!

All smiles and relief.

Celebrations for all involved.