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Health and Reason

girl in green reading

I have been sick with a chest infection for the past week.  It sneaks up on me once a year and insists on running its course through my system despite my best efforts to counter it.  I hate being sick, it doesn’t suit my personality. I’m inclined to feel sorry for myself.

To paraphrase the proverb
“Health is the invisible crown people wear, which only sick people can see”

I like that. I think it sums it up nicely what I was experiencing. I will be back to full health soon but when you’re in the throes of it you don’t remember that really.

One evening, my children were watching a cartoon which featured an elephant in a red bowtie. I was intrigued with this animation, the talking elephant with the red bowtie. He was laughing and waving his trunk like arms in the air. He seemed the picture of robust good health and I felt myself envious of his good spirits.

I was running a bit of a fever at the time, is all I can say in my defense. It is vaguely interesting though what corners our attention at any given time. If I was in the full of my health I would just barely glance at the television. Just another cartoon really. But now I’m not so sure.

I’m inclined to pay more attention to things that catch my attention. I don’t immediately discount them and I don’t roll out the red carpet for them either. I just observer for  a bit and then resolve to remember, and maybe then in the distillation of time something will reveal itself.

Like an idea or a notion for a new painting, or a new approach. Ideas are like ghosts, you just have to keep talking to them and maybe in time they reveal themselves, and maybe some even become new paintings.

Have a lovely healthy day!!


Three Chefs

three cooks

Here is a painting undertaken when I was under the influence of encaustics. I was, and still am big into textured surfaces in paintings. Juicy brush strokes, tactile ribbed lines of broken mottled colour.

Achieving those effects is like a game, or a series of experiments. You just keep loading things on and thing scrapping them back off again until finally reapplying in a last ditch effort to get the desired effect.

More failures than successes I’m afraid, particularly in the beginning. But then you gain a foothold in understanding what works and what doesn’t and even sometimes the brief insight as to why that is the case. Enlightenment!

Unfortunately, I never reached that stage. Or if I did, it just passed me by and I never noticed. I do remember applying a lot of natural beeswax into surface, and I had some precious cubes of coloured wax that I had procured in some unlikely location.  They all went into the mix too.

The subject matter was never in any doubt. Three chefs in a very busy kitchen. Steam, aromas, food, sweat. I wanted to get at it all. I hope I went some of the way at least and it still is one my favorites.

Nearly sold it on a few occasions. People to come back with instructions to ‘hold it’ for me. I’m still holding it, but I think they’ve long changed their minds. Perhaps they found one just like it down the road? Somehow I doubt it.

If you want me to let go of it, or indeed any of the others, please browse at will, and contact me at any time.

Till tomorrow.


Observing Beauty

I love representational art. I love the detail and technical brilliance to carry it off. The years of constant study and practiced dedication to the craft.

I’ve probably betrayed myself somewhat by using the ‘c’ word  – craft.

But I do think a large amount of craft do go into those paintings. Repeatable, learnt, consistent skills, and sometimes that can force the élan to the periphery of the work.

And sometimes those detailed representational works have more life force and energy in them that the zaniest free flowing abstracts, which grace the walls of a lot of today’s high profile galleries.

You can’t legislate for brilliance and you can’t contain it in just one art form. It goes where it wills off its own volition. But you can learn to spot it and its one of those things of which can be truthfully said – you’ll know it when you see it.

An open mind and open heart are good precursors for observing beauty. Sadly this is a lifetime effort and not just confined to art, and only remains in place through a spectrum of daily decisions.

You may see beauty here, or not, but it will be worth a look.  I’d like to think these pieces were painted with a not so closed heart, perhaps even an open one, on occasion.


Last Tram from Jervis Street


Standing on the platform for the last tram of the night. Due in three minutes.

He had the hood of his blue parka pulled high on his head despite the mildness of the late November night. There he was again, once boarded, standing opposite my seated position.

With practiced ease leaning on the sidebars he reached for his phone and poured forth a litany.

‘I just want to get home now and have a smoke’
‘Yeah, finished work..Twelve hour days from now till Christmas’
‘What you watching? Is it as good as last year?’

When he finished one conversation, with a few clicks of his fingers he started another. He cursed a lot. With a broad Dublin accent that almost sounded comforting.

He cursed Santa Claus and having to work for him. I wondered if he was just a tall elf in disguise but reasoned he was just another working Dad, paying for the bill board Christmas.

Finally, he had no one else to talk to. He looked at his phone aimlessly.

My eyes focused on the darkness outside. As the tram slowed to another halt, I could make out the swans on the canal.

Four of them, turning circles slowly, one with blackened feathers, no doubt the youth of the group. With not a Santa or mobile phone in sight. Just darkness and the confusion of the unseasonable mildness of a late November night.


Of course I didn’t have my sketch book with me, but we still can paint from memory. Some of the best paintings come from pedestrian memories and thoughts.

Have a nice nice day.


Life in Wonderland


Who paints pictures of Alice in  Wonderland? I do! The next question is why?

Free rein of the imagination is the short answer.

No one really knows what ‘Wonderland’ exactly looks like, and as for the appearance of the Mad Hatter, will that also is open for debate.

Combine all those variances together and you have a thick soup of unknowing. Enter the artist.

You have freedom to interpret it any way you want, the only limitation is that it has to look good. Which as limitations go is a pretty decent one, since the whole area of looking good is also entirely subjective.

That’s why I’m drawn  (no pun intended)  to the whimsical, and maybe that’s the overall attraction of fairy tales, it gives us permission to use our imaginations.

Too bad we give up that pursuit often very early into our lives, just when we may need it the most.

Not easy I know, but at least we persist in trying. In revisiting the possible and seeing things with fresh eyes. Art enables us to do that.

I would like to believe these paintings do that.

Another week, another lovely day.


Remembered Beauty

You can remember a surprising amount from just looking at your earlier works. The painting in the top of this post has been surfacing a lot in the last couple of days, so I felt compelled to row my boat of attention over to it and see if I could answer why.

It’s a nice painting. I always liked particularly the textured surface. It’s not clear in above image but rubbing your fingers over this piece is akin to reading Braille. It’s ribbed and scared and toned with the dashed edges of a palette knife.

Having said that I don’t think the texture adds a lot to the final piece, it was more a case of experiment for experiments sake. Which is not to say it was a wasted effort. I’m sure I use the effect to good use elsewhere. Nothing good is left unused in the hard won repository of experimental knowledge.

The subject matter is always a personal favorite of mine. I would not have readily admitted to that in previous years but at this stage I can hardly deny it. I paint people, mainly women, not landscapes, not animals, and certainly not floral still lives.

Each to their own. Embrace it, use it, and learn from it. Painting really is a lot like life, isn’t it?

For now, the instruction is to browse, preferably here, and delight in past attempts to capture fleeting beauty.


Natural Questions

It’s natural to question the value of your activities. At the moment I’m posing myself questions, but they are good questions. Namely, what value does original art add to a home?

Not life or death I know and I’m almost ashamed to admit only a person living in a first world environment would be bothered with such a concern. But let’s address it.

It really depends on the person. For some original art is a luxury, just another thing to be acquired in a world of acquisitions. For others it could very well mean the difference between the will to keep going or just grinding to a halt. It’s an inspiration and a well of deep meaning.

What we put in is what we draw out. People find meaning in the strangest of places and in unimaginable ways. Art seems up there at the top for the most part.

I would not like to see Art as being at the centre of a home but I think it could readily be a centerpiece in a room. A tabernacle of sorts that continually draws eyes to its apex. The room is decorated in accordance with the piece not vice versa, and of course it is a talking point.

It tells an important part of the homeowner’s story. Where they acquired the piece, their relationship with the artist, and what they saw that no one else did, which meant they just had to have it. An emotional connection had been forged.

This is just a launching pad for such musings. I’m sure there will be more, shared and unshared. The question simply won’t go away. It’s central really. How do you add value to people’s lives via your art? We intuit that it’s closely related to how it adds value first to ours.

While we are ruminating, journey over to here, the gallery, and allow your eyes to wander with that question in mind.

Have a good one.


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