Guitar Project #2: Working out the Chords


The best place to start with a project like this is the café. Rathmines, inevitably; in the calming surrounds of Café Moda. Of course I forgot my sketchbook, so I had to run in to the Swan Centre to find a cheap one -and a pen.

This is more or less how I approach any applied art project. I used to just write lists of words which may or may not lead me to an idea. In recent years, I find this a better way of generating at least something. In the end, I went for a bird theme with a peacock, as you can hopefully see in the third picture. I'm in an avian groove! I should start tweeting a bit more...

I used a posca marker for that white line. I felt I needed to see how it will work at full size on the instrument itself. As you can see, it's now completely covered with a spay-coat. This will just serve as a toned ground on which to work.

Oh and by the way, I've just invested in a new airbrush! Yup. I had one many years ago when I used to paint murals on scooters. I just can't remember what happened to it. I most likely left it behind when I upped sticks and left London in 1988. Strangely enough, I brought the compressor with me, which I still have. Bananas. I'm going to use the airbrush for the general shapes in order to keep the job as flat as possible. The detailing will have to be done with a brush -but I'll be using Golden liquid acrylics which will stay pretty flush.

When that arrives sometime next week, I can get down to the real work.

Do comment, if this project interests you; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

No Strings Attached; a Guitar Project #1

I've just received this guitar from Chris at the Musical Youth Foundation. It's an all-working instrument: Not expensive but plays just fine and it's in tune with itself, which is not always the case. I've added myself to the list of artists who will take on these projects to raise money for this cause. Here's a bit about them from their web site:
The Musical Youth Foundation charity was established in 2009 as part of the Dublin City Soul Festival project and is the brainchild of festival founder and CEO Chris Maher. At the heart of the project is a deep desire to have a long-term positive impact on the local and wider community by providing children on the Island of Ireland with access to a musical education.
Chris Maher (Ambassador of Soul Music and an Honorary Tennessean!) is enthusiastic and passionate about using music as a way to empower all children on this island (that so often have precious little encouragement or opportunity in their lives). Music, like any other art, is a place where you can have some control and sense of ownership in life. Once you own the ability to create with your mind and your hands, you own everything.

Suddenly, I feel like a kid again because of this project -I know it's going to take a great deal of work: Weeks - possibly months of activity, including learning how to approach the project in the first place (ie., which paints to use and how to varnish at the end, preparing the instrument itself for painting, sketching and developing the artistic direction. But I'm all enthused -some of Chris's energy has rubbed off on me!

I want the instrument to remain as playable as possible, although I realise that there will be a dampening effect on the sound by the paint. I don't want this to end up purely as a piece of art that hangs on a wall; I want it such that a player can take it down and use it in anger, so to speak. That's a real challenge.

I already sounded it out and I'm going to take down the action to improve the playability. I'm so looking forward to this...and I'll keep you posted on it as it develops. The strings are off right now, as are the machine heads, pegs and strap fixing. I've started a bit of light sanding to see what kind of paint I'm dealing with. I've already had a good chat with Peter Donnelly, who already has completed his Batik Guitar), about how he managed his one. You can see the results of his work, along with those of another couple of other Illustrators Guild of Ireland members Brian Gallagher and Rachel Corcoran here on MYF's Etsy shop. Obviously, you can buy these artworks/instruments directly from there -and support this noble charity.

Right -where's my sander.

Dark as a Feather

King of the River. Scraperboard. 4" x 6" 
I only experienced the joy of seeing a Kingfisher once. We were on a family walk along a river in western France. There was a dart of electric blue over my shoulder -and it was gone. For such a fleeting moment, it has had a lasting effect on me and it has kindled a fascination with extraordinary, showy birds. Not the wee brown Richard the Thirds that we mostly see around here -but Kingfishers, hummingbirds -even cock pheasants. It's the iridescent colours that attract me.

It all puts me in mind of when I was a child, growing up in London. My oldest friend was a keen bird-watcher and would rise very early of a weekend morning to visit the local parks and pursue his hobby. Despite being invited many times, I never made it along which I regret to this day. I've said it before, I've never been an early bird -I'm very fond of my bed and always have been.

On walks, he's able to identify each variety of bird he sees, recognise their songs and describe their feeding habits and habitats, whereas I'm hard put even to identify the trees in which they live!

Not long ago, we were walking through Richmond Park, when I noticed many bright green birds flocking together. "They're parakeets", my friend told me. "Eh? Wild parakeets in London?" "Yeah -they're all descended from a couple of escaped pet birds sometime in the past and now they're all over the south-west of London".

True enough; I've just looked the story up on Wikipedia. They're known as the Kingston Parakeets (very close to Richmond). Apparently, there has been an explosion in the population of feral rose-ringed parakeets since the mid-nineties.

So, I let my imagination take flight and produced this little scraperboard work of a Kingfisher on watch. Scraperboard is a joy to use, I have to say. You'll have to use your imagination to see the iridescence of the electric blue and turquoise plumage. At least he'll sit still while you fish around for the colours.

Do make a comment, or a tweet or a squawk, it'd be lovely to hear from you.