Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Knocksink woods

The springtime weather is really becoming obvious over the past few weeks. Of course there are some glitches in the form of storms, wind and hail, but the longer days, flowers blooming, trees in bud and quite a few warm days give that great sense of renewal.

With decent weather, and despite the feet still bothering me (almost a year of plantar fascitis!) it was well beyond time for me to partake in some shinrinyoku (forest bathing for relaxation). A short drive inland leads to the lovely Enniskerry and Knocksink woods.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the ground cover of wild garlic was becoming apparent. We picked some young leaves (of which there was an abundance!), picked up some crusty bread on the way home and it was simple to whip up a batch of wild garlic pesto (recipe posted previously) and have an almost summery lunch of bruschetta. A perfect day!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Eugeen Van Mieghem: Port Life

A week ago I was in Dublin and, among other things, eagerly went to The Dublin City Hugh Lane Gallery to see the Eugeen Van Miegham: Port Life show. I was only familiar with this artist's work through facebook postings from The Hugh Lane and was intrigued. 

This is a close-up of the studio sketch in the upper left of the above photo. Mieghem's drawing is beautifully energetic.

There are a number of large paintings of ships in both wet and dry dock, which are fantastic, but the lighting made it impossible to take photos of them. I loved the gallery's "List of Works" as an alternative to wall labels; the list had colour thumbnails of each picture and as well as the usual details often had a little blurb of extra information.

The work in the show was quite attractive and I could see the comparisons to Edvard Munch, whom Mieghem admired. I have been to the Munch museum in Oslo, so it was easy to understand this comparison in style and subject matter. But the scumbling style of dry brush painting also reminded me of Canadian artist, David Milne, whose work I also love and have seen quite a lot of.

Miegham also did a large number of paintings and drawings of people working in the port, including these two (left in pencil, right in black chalk). The exhibition continues till June 11 2017 and is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Day in Dublin

I had a few things to do on the north side of Dublin and passed by this drawbridge. Actually, I am not sure exactly what this is (formerly a canal lock?) but it seems to be a bit out of place. It reminded me of old Dutch landscape paintings and I thought this was appropriate as I planned to go to the Eugeen van Meigham show at the Hugh Lane Municipal gallery later in the day (which I will post about next week).

In the meantime I took the opportunity to have a closer look at the giant iris outside the NCI building. I had spotted this on a previous visit to Dublin, but the rain kept me from further investigation then.

This stainless steel piece was created by Vivienne Roche and commissioned by the National College of Ireland (NCI) and entitled NC Iris.

On the way to The LAB to see a couple of exhibitions, I came across this plaque on Foley St  in commemoration of specific women who had fought in various places in Dublin during the 1916 Uprising, and generally to all women who had taken part in the activities of 1916, the War of Independence, and the Civil War, which followed.

Although it was in the smaller gallery at The LAB, Lucy McKenna's exhibition, "Astronomical Mashup", was  definitely the main attraction (and totally perfect in the entrance exhbition space).

McKenna combines sci fi mythology with factual knowledge about Mars to examine the way information is understood about our neighbouring planet in specific and on a wider scale in general.

The exhibition is intriguing: it possesses both beauty and humour. McKenna's small scale painted images are delicate while the large graphics are in-your-face technical wallpaper! The overlaps keep perspective shifting while all the time the viewer is aware of the set-like tentacle streams (a la War of the Worlds) hanging from the scenery, and always in peripheral vision in this small space.

Like a moth, I was drawn to the curiosities of the light bulbs, which had subtle photographic images on their back surfaces: a darkened crescent moon on one and tiny spots (the Pleiades) on the other.

I also enjoyed the other exhibition, IAWATST (Interesting And Weird At The Same Time), which took up the main gallery (including upstairs space). It was a group exhibition of work from the OPW collection curated by students from an inner city primary school. I didn't get any pictures from this exhibition, but they are available online and further information is available on The LAB website.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Hummus recipe

My cousin and her partner will be in Ireland this week, and they will be having a dinner visit at my place on Friday. My cousin's partner is wheat intolerant, so everything I make for the dinner party will be wheat free. Both my husband and I have decided on a very yummy menu, with nothing glutenous in sight! One of the pre-dinner nibblies will be our family favourite hummus and crudités. As tends to happen with most of my recipes, I just eyeball everything. If using dried chick peas (like I do), soak overnight, rinse, boil for about 1/2 hour with a bay leaf, let sit an hour or so then rinse and drain before adding to recipe.

Sorry I cannot include accurate measurements, but here is my guestimate for the recipe: 1 tin chick peas (garbanzo beans) or equivalent, 1/2 cup yoghurt (I use Greek Style -- adding yoghurt makes the hummus lighter to eat!), 1/2 cup tahini, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2-3 cloves garlic. Throw everything in mixer and whizz till it is a smooth consistency. Add a bit more olive oil or yoghurt if it still seems too thick. When serving, drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some paprika over hummus. Serve with whatever crudités you like (celery, zucchini, red pepper, carrot and/or cucumber sticks, baby tomatoes, button mushrooms) and it is delicious also with crackers, bread sticks or crusty bread if you are not catering to wheat-free.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Day-planner sketches

For most of January and February, I have been back to work on the studio attic, trying to sort and purge things to make space (and sense!) so that I can get back to painting. Perhaps I have not been brutal enough, as I am still hanging on to quite a lot of "stuff", but I have been doing a fair amount of shredding (about 6 bags full so far) and recycling. One thing I have finally realised -- this is like a revelation to me -- day-planners are not the same as diary-journals! With this knowledge, all I had to do was rip out the personal details to shred and recycle the very useful, but no longer necessary, items. Good thing I do check them before discarding, as this sketch of my daughter (I remember her being asleep in the car) was in the 2005 book.

I do use sketchbooks most of the time, but if my purse is too small a sketchbook doesn't fit in it. So if needs be, pages in the ever-present day-planner get used, and I always carry a pen with me. I was living in rural Kerry in 1995 and I must have done these cow legs while walking past fields.

Again from the 1995 day-planner, I was taking a close look at cow parts -- here are two views of a snout (along with a bit of budgeting info!). Because of the date, I am presuming these cow sketches were research for my cow curtains, exhibited for the first time in November 1996 as part of "Pastures Green and Dreaming for Dad" at The Basement Gallery, Dundalk.

This sketch of my husband (before he was my husband) is from my 1993 day planner. I had to do a bit of research on this one to find out that "Last Temptation" was a tiny club in Toronto's Kensington Market. We were out providing support to a friend who was playing a gig there. It was February in Toronto, still cold -- my husband still has his scarf and coat on even though we would have been indoors. As I type this, it is February in Ireland and, though grey, outside my window I see lots of pink blossoms in bloom.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Valentine's Day

I have been making occasion cards since I was a child as they were always class art projects -- something to do for our parents -- by teachers who were not artists and had to come up with something to keep kids occupied! I continue the practice, however, enjoying hoarding bits of interesting paper, and then as an occasion comes up seeing how I can vary the annual theme. Since I have recently photographed all the cards from my Mum's archive, that she has kept over the years, I can easily compare them. Here is a sample of Valentine's Day cards I made for my Mum, starting with this one from 2002, using bits of wrapping paper and coloured construction paper as a base.

This one is from 2008, the base card being white corrugated cardboard and the hearts and other elements are made of a spongey material with an adhesive backing. 

This card from 2010 uses white card stock as a base, some wrapping paper scraps, and various coloured paper scraps. I also made use of a silver pen!

I used some heavy green card stock for the base of this 2013 card, The white paper with white and gold bits threaded through it is specialised wrapping paper. The red heart is a bit of an envelope I think, and the red background is simple coloured photocopy stock.

The card for 2016 made use of red card stock as a base, and several bits of coloured paper scraps to make the hearts. Goes to show how one symbol, a heart, can be used repeatedly to create a different card. There were many more variations in the archive, but I thought these provided a good example.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Preparations for work

I have been doing a lot of administration and organisation this past week. The administration has involved preparing proposals for various upcoming opportunities. This does involve a lot of work sitting at the computer, but it also affords me the headspace to clarify my ideas. I am looking forward then to creating new paintings, prints and books in the (hopefully) near future. With this in mind I am also trying to clean up and organise my studio. This sketch I did on National Drawing Day a few years ago used a corner of my studio as subject. If only the studio looked that tidy! I think at the time I was in the middle of working on a painting, so even though it looks a little chaotic, that is simply one corner. At the moment the entire studio looks chaotic and it would be completely impossible to work on anything. I am slowly making some headway though, proof being that I have filled 6 bags with shredded paper, have recycled and thrown out quite a lot of things. Still more to go.

Planning a holiday is always something to bring my spirits around. Last week I won a break to Edinburgh from a radio station that I listen to and yesterday I filled out all the required paperwork for the promoters, choosing my preferred dates to take the break. Something else to look forward to!