Art classes: Teaching Begins on Jan 14th and 16th

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Would you like to be able to paint like this? I teach a 6 week course painting still lifes in oils to give students a thorough grounding in technique. Many students love to stay on for subsequent terms where the syllabus frees up and they can branch out to other mediums and techniques such as acrylics and watercolour. Check out the latest OFFERS!
Classes begin next week, Tuesday 14th Jan 2014. You can see much more information on my teaching web site. Join in the fun yourself or feel free to send this on to a friend!

A Portrait for a Petrol Head

Whatever happened to a gold watch as a retirement gift? Probably not a good idea to give a reminder of a ticking clock to anyone, I suppose. Anyway, a friend of mine, Eamonn, who has been following my work for a long time and has always been encouraging to me, approached me to work on a commission for a retiring colleague of his. He told me he’d seen the work I did on a similar project for another departing exec, earlier this year and loved the quirky and imaginative idea and the individuality of it. In fact many of the colleagues of this man clubbed together to commission this portrait.

So we met up in a cafe, sat down and I interviewed Eamonn about the subject’s interests and foibles and pretty soon, I began to build up an picture of what I could do for him. Once again, I used the general theme of a spoof publication cover. Well, it’s nice to find yourself on the cover of something that isn’t Stubb’s Gazette, isn’t it? (Now there’s an idea for a few people I know…). Although his career was spent as an architect, designing schools that have been built throughout the country, what came out more strongly was the subject’s interest in classic cars -and motorbikes, too. He has quite a collection lined up at home. However, in the course of the interview, I learned that not too long ago, he travelled to the UK to buy a Morgan sports car for his collection, only to find that they’re made with younger, more agile men in mind and he found it difficult to squeeze into the constricted cockpit! He came home with another Jaguar…and a sore back.

That made me chuckle. So that settled it; why not give him the car? It’s such a cool machine. Any other details could be incidental to that.

So you can see one of his schools there in the background. Other details are included that are meaningful to him -the Rolling Stones lips, his cat, the RAF leather flying jacket and cap. They all added to the vintage feel. I settled on the magazine, ‘Popular Mechanics’ from the fifties and sixties as inspiration; I love the beautifully crafted but often touchingly optimistic visions of the future on the covers, as if we’d all be going to work in flying cars by the 1980s.  I dreamed up ‘Vintage Roadster’ because that’s what our hero is, isn’t he? You know, if he had been a keen soccer player, I’d have placed him on the cover of a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ type magazine cover. There’s always good material we can find to work with.

131128Once the amendments to the preliminary sketches were made and agreed on, I stretched a sheet of Canson watercolour paper and set about the final artwork in acrylics. The framer did a marvellous job; it’s always thrilling to see your artwork properly mounted and displayed.

Then unfortunately, I had to miss the presentation as I was teaching on the day, blast it! I invite you to have a look at the video -and do leave a comment, I’d love to hear how you’d depict your friends.

Acrylics on paper. Approx A3.

Watercolour at the Alliance française

fashion_sketch-jpgLast Saturday, I managed to slip out for a couple of hours in the morning to do a bit of sketching. I’m amazed at how little I manage to do these days. Too much time spent battling the twin evils of sloth and penury. The enemies within and without!

I passed by Read’s of Nassau Street to pick up a couple of tubes of gouache after discovering that some colours were completely dried out in their tubes. I just wanted to sit down and think for a while and when I decided to put something down on paper, this is what came out. There’s no point to it other than I visited the Chester Beatty Library recently with a Dutchman, Arnauld van der Donck, (Nol is his pen-name and you can see his work here). He’s an France-based artist, illustrator and cartoonist and president of ‘Humour & Vigne’ who was over here liaising with the Alliance française. I suggested that we meet in the CBL and take a look around. It’s years since I was there; it’s still a little gem of a museum. They have a beautiful exhibition of small fashion prints from the pre-WWI period.

They’re really beautifully crafted pieces, vibrantly coloured with sometimes over a hundred stencils cut to achieve the image, according to the information panels. I’d love to see the process. But for the period fashions, they look like they were made yesterday.

So that was still in my mind when I sketched this up. As usual, there’s a bunch of ideas in there, all munged up into one image. You sort it out. The funny thing is, a man approached and had a look to see what I was doing. He looked baffled and cast his eyes around the room to see what I was using as a model, as if there might be somebody wading in a vast puddle in the middle of a city centre café.

But, I do encourage you to don your driving goggles, your plus fours or hobble skirt, adjust your monacle and have Murtagh the footman drive you into town to see it. You might want to bring a pair of waders into the coffee shop, though.

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