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Flower Arrangements and motionless men


I mistook a man for a vase of flowers this morning. Or more accurately, mistaken him for one of those large flower arrangements one sees in built up urban areas.  I was in the car driving and he was wearing one of those bright yellow, high visibility jackets. He had a bright blue skull cap on his head and equally garish red gloves.

To give context to my error, the sun was shining in through the windscreen and the bright morning light was bathing everything in a soft diffused hue. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that he was standing completely motionless at the time and was right in the middle of a busy intersection.

‘That’s nice’ I thought to myself ‘haven’t seen that there before. Must be new’. Then he spoilt it all by moving and walking rabidly away, his blue hat bobbing on his head like a demented beetle.

Got me thinking about the nature of abstract art, and how people see different things in the same painting. At the end of the day, we see what we want to see, and a lot of what we do imagine we see is in fact our inner selves being reflected back to us.

Some consolation I guess, I could have interpreted the unfortunate motionless man in much worse terms.  If I had not being driving, I would definitely have made a sketch. Standing there against the fresh green herbage of the lay by he made a damn good flower arrangement. Visibly pleasing with complex interlocking colours that briefly arranged themselves purely for my entertainment.

But I drove on, with my thoughts, in the certainty that there was a lesson there, somewhere. If only I could tease it out? I am in the business of teasing such questions out via the twin mechanics of writing and painting. The only trouble is there is so many questions and only so little time. You have to focus on the important ones, so for now the flower arrangement man is free to walk free. I will have to live with the memory and revisit it at will.

The questions that have been tackled and temporarily answered are as always available here. Packaged up and ready for your own unique insights. Please feel free to indulge at will.


New wine and old wineskins


Yesterday was an unusual day in the painting sense. Sunday, I had carved out time to paint. It was a flexible time slot that I could use in the afternoon. Also I broadly knew what I wanted to work on, namely number six in the children’s toy series. But I found myself procrastinating. Motivation was slow to come. If I allowed myself to remain in such a state the whole afternoon would quietly slink away like a scorned animal. I had to take action, and thankfully I did.

Once the toys were set up and a rough preliminary wash laid down, the old habits began to take hold. Working with the oil pastels has allowed a new vigor to enter the work. If I was to use a culinary analogy it would be akin to contrasting textures. Rough and smooth on the palate, or in this the palette. This is helpful for me. It breaks monotony and adds a new layer of unpredictability to work with. I needed that, particularly yesterday.

On reflection, what I found more interesting was the nature of inspiration and what has been commonly termed ‘the muse’. That abstract notion of what prompts you into creative action. I think a lot of it comes down to quiet simply showing up and getting down to work. Good work-like habits and routines enable this to happen. Inspiration is always kinder when it finds us already doing the work.

Number six in the series gradually began to take hold. It came to life and I’m very happy with the result. I’m not going to take it for granted though. Just because this one came relatively easy doesn’t mean the rest will. I tend to see it as a small reward from destiny for just overcoming the initial inertia and getting down to work. There is a whole flurry of lessons there that could be applied across a spectrum of concerns, but for now we’ll stick to painting.

Of course I should post the new work with this piece, but the camera on my phone is playing games with me. Swings and roundabouts. What you gain on one you lose on the other. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with an oldie. As always, the oldies are like good wines. Matured and very beautiful and still very much for sale


Lives we never knew we lived

Did you ever Google your name on the internet? Type it into the browser’s field and click search. Of course you have or am I being presumptuous?

I have. Amazing the stuff it brings back. Things I never even knew about myself. Experiences and lives that I must have just plain forgotten about in some perverse spell of twenty-first century amnesia.


….Could there be possibly more that one ‘Jimmy Kelly’??

A painting from the past came knocking on my door after one such search. The one at the top of this post. I remember well painting it. I remember even better conceiving of it, thinking about it and then finally seeing it come alive on the canvas. Purely because it was an unusual subject for me at the time.

If I remember correctly I titled it ‘Her Prince Charming’. The frog with the crown precariously balanced on his head looks somewhat nervous. She looks dangerous.

I was playing with the idea at the time of taking well known fairy tales and turning them on their heads and seeing what I came up with.  This is just one that I came up with. The others are scattered in the halls and sitting rooms of other various buyers.  I would remember them if I saw them.

Which? The paintings or the buyers?

Both. The buyer in my mind becomes part of the painting. Becomes enmeshed in its story, takes over and carries it on, until they in turn hand over to someone else. Eventually the story may come full circle and back to me. It hasn’t yet but I’m open to that possibility. Paintings are kind of like your children, there’s always an open door waiting for them if they need to return.

They’d have to sleep on the couch though, because the best rooms are currently taken by these, my new fledglings, waiting to fly the nest. You can help them take flight by clicking the green button underneath.

Have a lovely weekend.


Autumn and other poetic ramblings

a clockwork orange


‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’

Can you remember the first time you heard those lines?

I can. It was in secondary school. The embattled teacher told us that these were famous lines, conjuring up the magic of Autumn. Most did not care. But after that brief introduction I began to hear them everywhere.
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The eye of the consumer


Art shops are interesting places. Over priced to a large extent because the need is there. If you need a tube of titanium white you need a tube of titanium white. You’ll pay what ever is necessary to get that paint and such items are priced accordingly. According to the value derived from the purchase. Convenience plays a big part also. Everyone would like to get what they want, for as cheaply and as easily as possible.
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Cellophane yellows and tangerine oranges

During Kilkenny Arts Festival this year I hung three large painting on the mayor’s walk. A public wall near Kilkenny Castle in the centre of the town. One of those paintings was of two cats staring out from the surrounds of a vase of inordinately large yellow flowers. I called those flowers ‘cellophane yellows’ a nod to a similar reference in the Beatles song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. That was the image I had in mind when I first conjured them up.

The cats themselves are tangerine orange, nicely complemented by their solid green beaded eyes. The foreground is a large swathe of cerulean blue, laid on thick; I don’t want anything peeping through. Broken only by a mottle array of lilac shadows, because as everyone knows, shadows are lilac in nature.

A lady asked me when I was standing there at the wall, how did I manage to make the flowers so yellow? To be honest the question confused me a little as I was hoping to make them even more yellow, but I gave a relatively simple explanation that it was my liberal use of a tube of  Lemon yellow. The more correct answer would be that the surrounding cerulean blue makes them look more yellow than they actually are, purely by association.

Then again, I am marginally colour blind. When somebody is referring to the green car, I’m normally talking about the yellow one, and vice versa. Needless to say, confusion reigns supreme, but I try to make my limitations work to my advantage on the canvas, hence my love of bright colours.

I’m beginning to think that simple colour combinations have more impact. There is less to confuse the eye, and the mind of the beholder. It’s a case of less is more, as long as it’s the right kind of less and therein lies the rub? Experimentation, learning, work after work, unfortunately there’s no substitute for it. But then again would we have it any other way?

For now, we’ll reap what we have previously sown, and you can always buy those cellophane flowers and curious cats here, and watch them climb the walls of your imagination.


Catch 22

girl in green reading

Last Saturday morning, I found myself in a cheap bookshop. I use ‘cheap’ in the best sense of the word, perhaps ‘reasonably priced’ would be more accurate but sounds more clunky. Anyway I was there and the books were there and one does what one does in any book shop. I normally spend no more than three minutes at a time in this particular shop and it has become part of my Saturday morning ritual, a brief respite between the pressing concerns of tying  X to Y.
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