Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tin Cans with Wild Flower

Tin Cans with Wild Flower - Oil on panel - 24"x18" - sold

Tin cans really set off all kinds of narrative ideas for me, from how they seem to end up being an essential item in the make up of all painters studios, to cowboys eating beans from a can, to baking, to talking through cans with string.
They have all these uses and a kind of wildness about them while at the same time being very industrial and quite mundane.

These cans have been useful items in the studio for me and have various uses as receptacles (not quite in the way Piero Manzoni used cans but,) to mix mediums, varnishes and scrape old paint into among other things.

With this piece I had a chance to experiment with describing different forms from the way I handle the organic fragility of the wild flower to the reflective tin and the creased brown paper in the background.

This image is the largest of any still life piece that I have created to date - measuring 24x18inches.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Life with Brushes

Still Life with Brushes - Oil on panel - 12"x9" - sold

I just adore this piece! - Tell you why.

The complexity of the subject itself was an exciting challenge for me.
Keeping my work constantly challenging and exciting is really important for me at this (and every) stage of my development as a painter.

From the subject matter, rhythm, and way I handled paint, to my overall treatment and approach in making this art work really excited me from start to finish.

Concentrating on the subtle changes of form and reflection I worked on creating interest with shifts in focus, shadow and light.

Hope you like it.
- Richard

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Painter's Lunch

(image currently unavailable)
A Painter's Lunch - Oil on panel - 12"x9"
Still life with Coffee mug, Apple and Banana.

With this piece I decided on a grouping of objects and also to play with the balance of the composition.
The two main negative shapes really interest me as they appear to mimic each other along with the way the banana and the spoon, pointing in opposite directions, seem to balance each other out.
There are beautiful subtle reflections and changes in texture among the hugging objects which still somehow retain there individual essence and appear to simultaneously occupy their own space.

Hope you like it.

- Richard

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spring Onions with Rubber Band

Spring Onions with Rubber Band - oil on panel - 12"x9" - sold

Bought these gorgeous enormous spring onions at the local farmers market here in the village of Ballyvaughan. The variety of textures and the deep reds and green colours made for a great subject to paint.

Went for a couple of pints last night in the local pub and met Steven Spielberg! It was a bizarre and great experience.
He is here in Ballyvaughan on a creative writing course ran by the poet and philosopher David Whyte who is running lectures in the College.

Tonight Declan O' Rourke is playing an intimate concert in the college exhibition space.
Hope Steven has got his ticket already! Can't wait for the gig. - Richard

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tin Can with Burren Daises

Tin Can with Burren Daises - Oil on Panel - 12"x9" - sold

This piece was the first still life painting I created upon arriving in my studio space in the Burren over a week ago. One of the MFA students called into see me at work and commented on the quality of light and atmosphere in this piece. Thanks Simon!
I also feel I have somehow captured the fragility and transient nature of these flowers. This sense is heightened and contrasted I hope by the industrial nature of the tin can which also carries a real narrative of its own.

With the last few pieces I have been enjoying working on a larger scale. This piece measures 12x9inches.

Hope you like it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tower Interior

Tower Interior - oil/panel - 5"x5" - sold

For the past few months I had been dying to paint an 'interior' scene. A visit to an exhibition of impressionists interiors in the National Museum of Art in Dublin must have triggered off this need to explore such a theme.

Finally last week I found my subject in the interior space of the Newtown Castle on the grounds of the Burren College of Art.

I had been watching the natural light as it filtered through the small windows in the tower and illuminated the highly textured stone floors.

Taking my panel and paints up into the darkened interior I had to work really fast and intensely to capture and record the ever changing light.

A Beautiful and rewarding experience.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Peppa Pig


Back in my diploma year in college I wrote (with some help) a short essay entitled 'Objects of Desire' as part of my Cultural studies programme. I believe I took 'the Walkman' as my object then. Anyway, I can't really remember that much about the essay but the title always stuck with me.

Starting this painting project and the blog over a year ago I again revisited this idea of Objects of Desire. Why did I Desire to paint certain objects? The desire associated with objects is not a new idea and can be traced back in Art and cultural history over the centuries.

Yesterday I came across a book in the library by Julian Bell entitled "What is Painting?' Reading, I found out that in the Bible an image could be any object made by a human that looked like something made by God first. The prophets of the Old testament deplored the fact the artists, creating these secondary objects, started to revere the work of their own hands.

A Jewish text from the first century BC addresses the same issue - 'Do not be deceived by an image spotted with colours and the painters fruitless labour'. Subsequently the Jewish tradition banned all image making and this craze spread though the religions including the Muslim tradition which imposed a similar ethos throughout there empire.
The Byzantines made a concerted effort to do the same in the 8th century and the Puritans wiped England almost clean of images after the Reformation.
More recently the Taliban in Afghanistan stripped Herat city of all its televisions.

So images have been at some point and are more recently largely unaccepted in all these traditions. Why?
Plato suspected that artists make images to indulge their desires - vain desires from his view point.
However a century later Aristotle said that people make them because of their wish for knowledge. He felt it necessary that people mimic or mime to learn - ' It is through mimesis that man develops his earliest understanding'. Presumably Aristotle would have included in this children's make believe and toys - what we now call early learning aids.

All such activity, from his point of view, was a sane way of widening the mind's access to the world, with the potential to cleanse the emotions rather than to tantalize and warp them. It was play with a purpose.

That's how I see these daily paintings of objects that I make - As informative play with a much larger purpose. Unlike most still life painters I have not yet been able or inclined to bring myself to collect objects and props. That all seems quite contrived and can become quite standardized to me. Keeping it more like play I allow for a chance encounter - an intuitive response that I may have to and object or thing on any given day hence the wonderful and playful 'Peppa Pig' - todays Object of Desire.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Evening Light, Burren College

Evening Light, Burren College - oil/panel -7"x5" - sold

This is the first painting I made on the evening I arrived in Ballyvaughan Village.
It depicts the view from the cottage window where I am staying. The round tower and buildings are part of the Burren College of Art just up the road where my studio is based. In the background you can see the evening light over the Burren landscape. The Landscape is so green down here and when your up on the Burren you feel like your in the clouds - close to heaven! Its really a faboulas spot.

Been making a lot of work in the studio and its really great to be working on large pieces again with lots of space available and such inspiring landscape around.
I have also been working on still life pieces which feature some of the flowers found close by.

Looking forward to getting those images up for you all to see.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Place of Stones, Inagh Valley

A Place of Stones, Inagh Valley - mixed media on panel - 5"x7" - sold

Created this piece in mixed media directly after the last one. Previously I had made some sketch/thumbnail images and decided that the design and subject were so interesting to me that it merited further exploration.

This piece is largely sketched, with an overlaying of thin washes of colour.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Warm Light, Inagh Valley

Warm Light, Inagh Valley - Oil on Panel- 12"x8" - sold

Came across this spot by a stream in the heart of the Inagh Valley in Connemara. I was immediately taken by the teared effect of the slopping rocks, banks, hills and mountains which created this really interesting repeat pattern.

This piece, which contains expressive marks, broken brush work and descriptive texture was created with a limited earthy palette of three colours inspired by my immediate surroundings.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Towards the Maam Turks

Towards the Maam Turks - Oil on Panel - 12"x8" - sold

The vista from my bedroom window in Roundstone, Connemara was inspiring. This landscape painting was based on a view of the Maam Turks mountain range which was straight across the bay from my vantage point. During the mornings and evenings I had been watching this view and how the colours and light fell and reflected.

Sketching first - I zoomed in, simplified, and when satisfied with the overall shapes and composition I began to work vigorously with a limited palette of three colours.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Glassilaun Beach

(image to be updated)

Created this piece plein air on 'Glassilaun' beach in County Galway a few weeks ago. The quality of light and reflection on the water was dazzling.

Am well set up in the studio now, working well and enjoying every minute. Hope to catch up on these posts over the weekend. Since arriving and getting set up in studio I have finished off a few larger pieces and started into new works.

There is so much to see and explore in the college - feel like there isn't enough hours in the day.

Drove to Limerick city this morning to see an exhibition of Sean Keating's paintings. There is so much narrative going on in each of his pieces - social commentary etc, but all I could take in today was the beauty of his painting styles, colours, composition and application. I love his work - it was an inspiration.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Pears - oil/panel - 5"x5" - sold

Painted this piece the week before last during my recent painting trip in Roundstone, Connemara. With this piece I was really concerned with shape. I had picked the pears up a couple of days previous and had just loved the way they hugged together when placed in this arrangement. The paint was applied quiet thinly and I used warm shadows to complement the cool greens of the pears.

Arrived in the village of Ballyvaughan in the heart of the Burren yesterday. Am all set up in the cottage down the road from the studio and managed to paint a small plein air piece from the window of the cottage last night.

Just started to get set up in the studio about an hour ago. The college, studio and facilities are fabulous. Really excited and looking forward to time spent here.

Better get back to the studio now.
The Burren is Magic!

- Richard

Monday, July 6, 2009


Pomegranate - oil/panel -5"x5" - sold

This painting of a Pomegranate was the first of five still life pieces I made in the evenings during my recent painting trip to Roundstone in Connemara.
Love the form, subtle colour changes and brush strokes in this piece.

Am about to begin packing for my two month artist residency in the Burren College of Art in Co. Clare. Heading west tomorrow to begin getting set up and settled in at my studio there. Looking forward to having a large space to work, develop and create in.