Wednesday 29 October 2014

Fever Afterimages - some finished paintings!

I've finished the other two small canvases, but I am posting the first one again so all three can be seen together. They are all the same size, 40.5 cm x 51 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2014. I created the texture before painting began by gluing newsprint onto the canvas.

Fever Afterimage 3:

Fever Afterimage 2:

Fever Afterimage1:

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Dream Paintings

My huband has been teaching me how to use GIMP, an free software programme alternative to Photoshop. Since I regularly need to adjust colour, crop and resize images, I have been getting in some practice with old polaroids of artworks that I don't have properly documented. I am only doing the simple things to the image, so there is still a lot of "noise".

This painting is one of many paintings I did at the time based on dreams. Specifically, in the dream I was surrounded by water looking up at the sky and could see a red sailed boat on the horizon. I sold this painting sometime in the 1980s to a friend in Toronto who was an art conservator at the time but then got into alternative therapies. Recently she let me know that this painting is hanging in the new offices of her practice. I was delighted that it still has pride of place! I saw it after she had it framed over 25 years ago and it looked fantastic (if I do say so myself!). The painting is primarily acrylic on heavy watercolour paper; two of the hands are silver paper affixed to the ground before painting was complete. Though not visible in this picture, there are many white lines radiating from the stars in the pink sky which I created painstakingly with a ruling pen (do people still use this tool?). The piece is quite large, either 3 or 4 feet square. 

This painting is also about 3 or 4 feet square, acrylic on heavy watercolour paper and based on the same dream. I don't know if this piece is rolled up somewhere or was a casualty of one of my purges!

Also taken from a tiny polaroid, this image is an installation view of some paintings that were shown in Winters College gallery while I was at York University. It may have been spring 1986 or may have been earlier. This triptych and diptych are acrylic on canvas, each panel being 4' x 3'. They are again based on the same watery dream with the starry sky and red-sailed boat. I know most definitely that these paintings no longer exist, as they were destroyed in a purge before I moved countries and the stretchers were sold to Central Technical School for use by students in the post-secondary art programme.


Wednesday 15 October 2014

Matisse and Me!

There is a huge show at the MoMa, New York about Matisse's cut-outs, and I have been enjoying all the images of works, films, photographs of Matisse in his studio, etc. that are available on the internet (the MoMA facebook page keeps posting them, so no need for me to reproduce here). The show was originally in London's Tate Modern last year, and somehow I missed the hype, so sadly didn't see it. Apparently the MoMA show is an expansion of that one. With all this imagery and information floating around, I have been reminiscing about my relationship with the master, who I freely admit has influenced my work. I think this is obvious from some of my very early work such as this Sleeping Dee Dee, oil on canvas,122 cm x 91.5 cm, 1980. 

The picture above is a re-photograph from a polaroid - I don't actually have any other documentation of this piece. I don't know if the painting still exists or not; I gave it to the model (my younger sister!) quite a long time ago.  As well as Matisse, I was also influenced by an unknown painter who attended Parsons School of Design in New York. Before I painted this, a friend of mine had started attending that art school, and a rep from the school came to give the students in my art school a talk. The rep handed out the PS of D prospectus which included a painting where the shadows were painted light blue. At the time this was a revelation to me and it is apparent that I did the same thing with my shadows at the first opportunity!

I did so many drawings and paintings of my sister while she was sleeping that friends who had not met her asked if she was ever awake. This Sleeping Dee Dee is smaller than the one above, oil on masonite. Again, I have no documentation of this other than this re-photograph of a polaroid.

This is an oil on masonite painting, also from 1980 of a woman who I had met in a bookshop near my art school. She was looking for a house-mate and I rented a room from her for one month, my first foray away from home.

Matisse's cut-out show also made me think of how I enjoy the playfulness of  art work. In 1989 I had a residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, ostensibly to create new work for my first exhibition in Dublin. However, due to availability (or lack of) at the Centre, I had all but one drawing complete for the exhibition by the time I was granted the residency. In many ways this was very liberating: I was not under any pressure, had a large studio to work in, food was provided with fabulous dinners being prepared by someone else and a variety of artists (playwrights, poets, musicians, sculptors, performance artists, other painters) on location for lots of interesting discussions over coffees and dinners,

So once I had the last drawing complete for the exhibition (a large black and white, graphite, figure drawing), I changed direction and got out colourful pastels, scissors and blue tack. Using imagery from my dreams I created an entire temporary environment in the studio.

It was at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig that I met and became friends with Dublin painter, Pat Moran, who dubbed my studio "The Playroom". Unfortunately Pat died suddenly in 1992 at the age of 30, and is sadly missed by the Irish art scene where his expressionist, figurative painting and drawing is known.

Further to my interest in "cut-outs" as a process, this picture of me in 1993 with some of my paintings from the My Tower of Strength series shows how I used cut-outs (the birds above the paintings) to help me figure out composition puzzles.

Sorry for the poor quality of photos in this post, but all images are re-photographs of existing photos and used as part of my training in GIMP, a free software programme which I am learning in order to replace my reliance on PhotoShop!

Wednesday 8 October 2014

More work on Fever Afterimages paintings

I have been working on the small(ish) paintngs of Fever Afterimages, slowly adding colour. The central yellow area here was originally a deep dioxazine purple (bits are still visible at the edges, so you can see how much a painting can change as I am working on it.

This is still very much in the early stages too.

I finished and signed this one today: Fever Afterimages 1, acrylic on canvas, 40.5 cm x 51 cm.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Directed Reading & Research!

In conversation with one of my sisters on the weekend, I found out about a free online course offered by Newcastle University via Future Learn. The course, Hadrian's Wall, tugged at my lifelong but unrequited interest in archaeology and I quickly followed the link my sister sent me and signed up! It is a six week course (starting last week, but it was easy enough for me to catch up) completely online, using written, visual and video aids to discuss all aspects of Hadrian's Wall -- it's architecture, social aspects, history, warfare, politics, etc.

Essentially the course is directed reading where the course participants can choose their own level of commitment -- you have the opportunity to interact with other students via a chat feed, take quizzes, do further reading (in each section there is further recommended reading). A visit to Hadrian's Wall has always been on my wish list and now I feel like I am getting closer to it.

While I was on the Future Learn website, I also signed up for two additional courses! "Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology" is a four week course, starting next week, which is offered by the University of Southampton.

My visit to the archaeology museum in Antibes last year piqued my interest in maritime archaeology. Antibes was historically an Ancient Greek harbour and nearly everything at the beautiful little museum was found in the sea nearby from sunken ships. I loved this corner of the museum with all the barnacled storage vessels.

The third course I signed up for does not begin till Jan 2015 and is also a six week course: "The Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome". Again, it is offered through the University of Southampton. I know there is some madness to my methods (it's not like I am lacking in things to do!) but these courses are giving me some directed reading and who knows how it will eventually manifest itself in my other work. It's all very exciting to me!