23 Sep 2015

A Bad Hair Day

I did a small demo for my morning students yesterday. I wanted to show them how to make a warm monochrome underpainting.

I think he looks a little like the actor Paddy Considine having a bad hair day.

Acrylics 6" x 6".


16 Sep 2015

The Terenure Dirigibles

The Terenure Dirigibles. Oils on canvas 10" x 12"
Somebody told me recently, that before the rise of the GAA, cricket was the most popular sport in Ireland. Interesting. I was never that interested in cricket. I could never understand why people got excited by such a ponderous game. I much preferred football and as a child, always dreamt of scoring the winning goal for Manchester United or Chelsea; I can't remember which.

Meandering about a field on the off-chance that a very lethal ball might fly your way sometime in the next week just didn't do it for me. However, now I've gotten older, I can see the attraction more and I wouldn't mind standing on a grassy surface for a few hours -and then retiring to a clubhouse for a beer. Or I could just go for a beer.

I don't single out cricket for a mild ribbing due to any particular dislike; I see all sports the same way. I realise that this is probably why I'm shunned by society; it's hard to be with a crowd of Jeremy Clarksons in a pub and have to ask them which sport they're talking about, about an hour into the conversation.

“Huzzah for Terenure,  O land of beige and taupe,Our genetic ability for dirigibility, And hiding our money beneath the soap"

Sport always generates an inordinate amount of seriousness, and a serious amount of hot air. It's worse than art. Many people seem to have an almost religious observance of the details and forms of sport. And an unlimited capacity for reeling out sporting anecdotes about events dating back to the 12th Century.

Mostly, though, the media and advertising seems to be pathetically obsessed with sport and what it thinks it'll do for sales figures -hence, those fantastically overwrought TV introductions to sporting events that scream excitement, excitement, excitement! Then they get some elite sports star, who's the personification of derring-do on the field of play, to endorse a product, only to have them drone through their script in a monotone, passionless manner. God knows how they think this will help them link sporting élan to car insurance or National Cement in the minds of the public. I always think of the poor creative directors of many of these ads whose dreams are broken on the wheel of sports-star dullness. It always makes me smile. Thank you sport, for making me smile.

The above painting will be showing in Terenure Sports Club's Culture Night event on Friday 18th September. That's this Friday, folks.

2 Sep 2015

More Red Herrings...

Starting work on a new painting project. These photos were taken about 20 minutes in. I'm still designing the painting as there were no preliminary sketches, lazy man that I am.

For what it's worth, I'm making an underpainting, or a brunaille. I'll colour over this with glazes until I'm happy with the result and then it'll be opaque paint all the way.

I'll post up more information when I have it more complete.

24 Aug 2015


From time to time, I get called on to do unusual artistic tasks. This one (for the client Wilson Hartnell -part of Ogilvy) was for a photoshoot for Eason which involved painting a logo onto a massive sheet of perspex.

I'm not sure what this type of illustration project could be termed: Set design? Mural?

Perspex is unbelievably heavy and quite floppy at this size and I had to manoeuvre it around as I worked, resting it on a blanket-covered tables. I have to say I was glad when a large van came to cart it away as the final product was very delicate; I was terrified that the paint would scratch.

Looked great in the end, though! I used Liquitex Professional Paint markers.

3 Jul 2015

The Perfect Paint

I must confess that I've never worked through the night; never worked late shifts.  I've always managed to avoid them,  even when it looked like shift work would come in in one of the printing jobs I had when I worked in that trade.  So it was with hesitation that I accepted the task of a painting project in the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar which had only very limited times when the work could be done - from 7pm to the following 9am.
I love my bed,  you see.  I don't like missing any opportunities to sleep.  Even after  a moderately late night,  I feel exhausted and cheated of my rest.  To stay up over night is my idea of hell; to stay up all night working is worse.
The Guinness Storehouse has been shortlisted for  kind of Oscars of the travel industry.  It's  up there,  competing with the likes of the Parthenon,  the Colosseum,  Buckingham  Palace and the Eiffel Tower.  Not bad,  eh? So Guinness wanted to celebrate this success with a window painting of the other six candidates as if they were all on view from the Gravity Bar.  Good idea.
And this project did have its excitements. It would be an opportunity to experience  the beauty of seeing the sun set and rise again from the best viewpoint in Dublin city,  with its panoramic,  almost 360° arc of windows. And so I did see it.  The attached video is wonderful but it could not possibly capture the full glory of that scene - and  it was on one of the clearest and warmest of midsummer evenings.
The video also makes everything look speedy! Creatives in Ad agencies spend a lot of time and energy in trying to get across the story that a pint of draft Guinness takes a long time to pour compared to all other beers.  Well, just like an expert Guinness barman pulling a pint of the black stuff,  this painting took quite some time to prepare. I drafted in my daughter Mathilde to help. To the creative director and cameraman's dismay (they were there to oversee and record the proceedings) nothing much seemed to be happening for the first couple of hours - just layers of undercoat building up an opaque ground.  The CD did admit afterwards that she had begun to lose heart at that early stage!
But of course,  it all came together.  With unusual foresight, I had brought a sleeping bag with me and managed to get an hour or of sleep inside the circular bar. Then up at 2.30am to start work again. The funny thing was,  I didn't really feel the night passing at all, so absorbed was I in building up the details.
I finished slightly ahead of scheme too and was dabbing on the final touches as the CD and cameraman breezed in after their own short night of sleep.  So that's the long of it.  I practically lapsed into a catatonic stupor for much of the following week but,  like the perfect pint,  it's all in the preparation and it was well worth the wait.

30 Jun 2015

What Am I Looking At?

This is a good article from Rick Poynor in the Design Observer (from some time in 2010):

Excerpt: "...It’s an enduring conceit peculiar to the conceptual art of the last 40 years that the most important thing about an art work is its “idea” and that the visual dimension really isn’t the issue. This is like poets holding the view that crafting well-turned lines is of marginal interest for literature, or jazz musicians claiming that being able to play their instruments is a red herring and then informing audiences that they are simple-minded to see it any other way.
So we need to put more emphasis again on the visual in art, and it’s clear that many young artists with visual talent have decided to ignore the art world’s weary, self-serving conceptualist strictures and just go ahead and make the art they feel like making. They want to create optical art experiences of their own. By paying too much attention to the extremes of high or low we run the risk of undervaluing what’s happening in the densely populated middle — graphic novels, graphic design, illustration, low-cost film-making — where the expressive possibilities of the visual are still embraced with conviction. This, rather than art scene-mediated art, is the real center of visual culture in our time. Are we overlooking great work only because we have been instructed for so long to assume that anything presented outside the art world’s walls must be inferior?..."

Link to the full article here. 

Rick Poynor is a writer, critic, lecturer and curator, specialising in design, photography and visual culture. He founded Eye, co-founded Design Observer, and contributes columns to Eye and Print. His latest book is Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design. He is Visiting Professor in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art, London. 

18 Jun 2015

The Wheels of the World

Acrylics on canvas (1m x 30cm)
This is now the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, where
Arf  'I'm not Irish!' Wellesley and Abba fought the combined legions of the French Empire under Napoleon Dynamite. There were some Prussians involved who turned up late/or just in time, whatever your point of view.

I wasn't there, in fact. And neither were you. But for the Irish, it was a win-win/lose-lose situation considering we fought on both sides. Isn't that a topsy-turvy way of going about? Not at all odd, really considering the circumstances in Ireland at the time.

So here are the lyrics of a song which has been passed down through two hundred years and which still ring true. If you think my painting is mad, try European politics:

The Wheels of the World

Come all you true sons of Erin; attend to these few simple lines:
I'll sing you a song about spinning. It was a good trade in old times.
Some they spun worsted and yarn, and others they spun flax and tow.
By experience, my friends, you may learn how the wheels of the world they do go.

Luther spun out his existence, and so did King Henry the Eighth.
John Calvin by Satan's temptation, their maxims he did imitate.
Tom Cranmer he joined the new system, and swore he'd make spindles of steel.
Pluto himself did assist them, perdition that turned their wheel.

CHORUS: So these are the wheels of the world, my friends, you must all understand.
For three hundred years, they've been spinning destruction all over the land.

John Mitchell the brave son of Erin, declared that a spinner he'd be.
He got all his wheels in full motion, his dear native land to set free. 
But Lord Clarendon the lieutenant, at spinning he was fully bent,
And unto the Isle of Bermuda the sons of Hibernia were sent.

Lord Nelson he was a good spinner on board of the ship Victory.
He was counted the greatest of spinners that ever set sail on the sea.
His shipmen were all famous spinners. For Nelson they spun very well,
But the French spun a ball in Trafalgar, and on the ship deck Nelson fell.

Billy Pitt too was a good spinner, and so was Lord Castlereagh.
Sure they spun out the Union from Ireland. To England they shipped it away.
Poor Billy spun out his existence, and banished in Charon's old boat.
Then Lord Castlereagh saved his distance, by cutting the rim of his throat.

Napoleon he was a good spinner, for freedom did always advance.
Over deserts and great lofty mountains, he led on the brave sons of France.
Old Wellington he went a-spinning. His wheels they were at Waterloo;
But if Grouchy had never been bribed, the French would have split him in two.

Prince Albert came spinning to England. His wheel by a compass did steer.
He spun out a queen for his consort, and some little thousands a year.
John Bull must now go a-spinning. A few thousands more he must fork,
For the Queen has another young son that was spun in the city of Cork.

The factory masters are spinning. Their wheels they are turning away,
And now they are wanting their hands for to work thirteen hours a day.
They don't care a fig for the poor. They heed not their sighs nor their moans.
They don't care a pin if you work till you spin all the flesh off your bones.

The rich they are all famous spinners, and you are very well sure
They are always contriving a scheme to crush down the rights of the poor.
So if you're compelled to go spinning, let each of your spindles be steel.
Let "Liberty" then be your motto, and glory will turn your wheel.

You can even hear a version of the song sung by the excellent Len Grahamhttps://beta.prx.org/stories/141307 Starts at 15mins 15secs.


12 Jun 2015

Sentinel: A Lonely Posting

Well isn't this a turn-up for the books? It's the Friday evening of a week where I've actually managed to paint a couple of pictures. I know that seems an odd thing for a painter to say but it's perfectly true. 

My regular art classes are finally finished for the summer and I now have a few months in which I can indulge myself. Most of my time is spent up to my oxters in admin for my classes -and once you start into that craic, whole days are lost, for admin is the opposite of art. 

Sometimes I have to force myself to paint in order to get anything usefully artistic done. It wasn't the way I thought it would be when I started: I thought that running art classes would make a perfect dovetail joint with my artistic endeavours. Oh well, it's better than penury!

Early on this year I bought a set of Golden 'Open' acrylics in Evans just to test them out. For some reason, I bought mostly cool colours: Pthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson, a rather toxic-looking yellow, Titanium White and Viridian. Luckily I also bought a Pyrrole Red which helped warm up all the hues in this painting. 

In the end, though, I figure that it turned out exactly as it would had I used regular acrylics. I didn't find the slow-drying quality helped in this instance. It's not that kind of painting.

So here is the result of my late freedom, 'Sentinel'.  Acrylics on canvas. 10" x 8"

By the way, if you're about and you want to attend a workshop in portraiture that I'm holding in Terenure this Sunday June 14, call me on 086 247 0737. Mention where you read this and I'll give you a discount of 15% on the €60 fee. You would need to book, though -don't just turn up! There are 3 places left.


28 May 2015

Normal Viewing Has Resumed

After several months of being more or less 'off-air', because of mysterious webby infections, both my web sites (this one and my teaching site, www.mcsherrystudio.com) are now back in action.

My hosting company removed them sometime ago because they had been compromised somehow. I still don't really know what that means other than they were supposed to be 'cleaned' before reinstating them could take place.  Needless to say, that was beyond me.

Both of those webs sites were made using the open-source platform, Wordpress -and for years, they worked well with very few problems. The trouble is that Wordpress seemed to be getting more bloated and difficult to deal with as time passed.

So -it's back to Blogger with me. A little less slick-looking but easier to handle.

The attached picture is from my exhibition of last year. It's called 'Doran's Pre-fried Sausages' and if you can see a connection between it and this text then you've got better eyesight than me.

25 May 2015


Lorcan Walshe (Artist), Cllr Mary Freehill, Kevin McSherry (Artist), Anne Corrigan (Festival Committee), Eoin MacLochlainn (Artist & Curator of Exhibition)
Harold's Cross Festival continues to be a success and to grow each year, thanks to the boundless energy of many local people; this year, artist Eoin MacLochlainn organized a small exhibition of local artists in the Victorian Tea Rooms at Mount Jerome. I was delighted to be involved.

Opened by Councillor Mary Freehil. More pictures on the festival web site.