Saturday, 23 June 2018

Hillsborough Art Society Exhibition

Hillsborough held its 30th Annual Exhibition in the Village School a few weeks back. There were 118 paintings on display of which 24 were sold. SERC students past and present Anne, Kathryn, Lauren and Joan and their tutor Mary (a HAS demonstrator this year) also exhibited and added their poundsworth to the eclectic mix of work on show.

Click to enlarge
The show was opened by the Deputy Mayor of LCCC Councillor Hazel Legge who to her credit stayed to the very end and didn't leg it when the first opportunity to excuse herself presented itself. She had a good discussion on arty matters with Anne and myself and was more than interested in purchasing Anne's wooden panelled chair.

The drinks were flowing even without Lawrence the usual barman emptying the wine bottles. Cool and eccentric people were seen mingling with the artists sometimes asking about their work and artistic processes - but more often just quietly whispering their thoughts to friends around them. Some even flashed wallets which meant by the end of the first night there were around eleven red dots stuck on to the white cards alongside the paintings. Not a bad start.

I was speaking to a friend the other week and when he heard about the Hillsborough Exhibition he confessed that his first date with his wife was to an RUA Annual Show. He told me that for a suave, intellect giant like himself such a venue was quite common for a first, even a second dating experience! You could tell a lot about a girl from her taste in art!!!! I don't think there was anyone there on a romantic night out at our opener and there certainly were no young women paying too many trips to the bar taking refuge in drink and wondering what the blazes they were doing here...

Click to enlarge
There was a reasonable footfall over the weekend considering the wonderful late May Bank holiday weather. It was mostly locals dropping in as they would have known someone who was exhibiting and were probably interested in what he/she and other local artists were doing. A few friends from Lisburn did drop by on Monday – my aunt from Moira even called in! I didn't expect to sell my Seven Cottages print but to my surprise someone had forked out £120 for the pleasure of having it hanging on their wall. Despite being in the room at the time I didn't actually get to see or meet the person who purchased it so I'll never know why he bought a landscape of such a barely known group of houses in a rural part of Tyrone if he wasn't from around those parts?

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Hillsborough Art Exhibition on over late-May Bank Holiday Weekend

This sounds interesting!

This should be better than the latest Big Painting Challenge that went nationwide on the BBC.
If that was the nation's best amateurs the amateur art world is in a fairly bad state 

Friday, 18 May 2018

Hello again!

Seems so long ago since I have posted here.

Life has been busy here and art has taken a back seat since my Mum has come out of hospital. I'm now looking after her during the working day and at weekends having shifted my Apple Macs from my studio in Lisburn to her house outside Dungannon. I'm fortunate in that most of my work can be done remotely with pdf files transferred online. And I've been busier than ever... which I didn't expect! I've even had to turn work away as I was unable to meet some of the deadlines given.

I tried hard to get to my art class at SERC every Wednesday night but failed miserably. I either had an art society demo at Hillsborough to go to or had too much work on. The fact that I missed five of Stephen's end of season football games in April/May tells its own story after missing none from August through to March.

I have persevered with oil bars and am enjoying their colour, expressive nature and the looseness I can achieve with them. I have been working on an Ed Sheeran but he got derailed when carrying him home one night from SERC. He now looks like he has gone ten rounds with a local thug and needs some tender loving oil bars to put him right again.

In his place I have taken to painting some fruit and I have been pleased with my two-three hour effort. I know I have overworked it and it got to the point where it became more of an experiment rather than a finished piece. I started trying out different things. like adding white highlights and scraping texture on to it which muddied the pear in particular. Here it is as it stands now.

Oil Bars - Fruit
I have also started dabbling in digital painting again using a small Wacom pad instead of my broken down Cintiq. I used photographs of two of my commissioned pastels as bases for painting onscreen. I started quite tentatively cleaning rough pastel areas up and then as I got more wrapped up in the process I started layering and using different brushes and styles to give these old paintings a fresh look. My Seven Cottages (this pastel can be seen on my Gallery Pages) had a 15-20 hour makeover with the sky getting a severe impasto look, the foreground getting acrylics and markers laid down, while the cottages were touched up with a splash of watercolour. I made mistakes here and there as my Wacom 'pen' was a bit temperamental in spitting out too much paint. Some of these 'spits' I kept as I felt it added to a looser look, while others I removed because it just looked messy!

The digital remake of my original pastel
My 'Girl with the Pink Umbrella' only had around five hours spent on it. I played with a Van Gogh-like swirling sky and adjusted colours mostly. I 'blued' up the foreground slightly to increase the contrast, made the tree trunks a richer browner colour and got rid of some stray pastel marks from the original. And that was about it. I now love the atmosphere in this painting. It's probably my favourite piece.

The digital remake of my original pastel 'Girl with the Pink Umbrella'

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My First Acrylic

The Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

I always swore I would never do acrylics and oils but here I am eating my words having used both mediums during this term at SERC. I kindly blame Mary Doran for that! 

For this painting I used illustration board that I gessoed three times to get a gritty surface. That was partly because I wanted to do the sky in soft pastels because my early attempts at clouds with acrylics were rather embarrassing. I was away out of my comfort zone but in time I found little things that worked for me (namely cheque cards to apply the paint and a roller to give the basalt rocks their distressed look) The green grassy slopes needed a different technique and I had to use several paintbrushes, thick acrylic and my fingers to achieve something I was happy with. The people were painted with watered down paint and layered and I was pleased with their look and the distance I achieved with them.

I painted this from a series of photographs I took on the Causeway around seven years ago. I decided to go bigger than my usual pastel size which are around 38-40cms wide. I went up to a whopping 70cms x 47cms

This was early days Giant's Causeway with the foreground rocks pencilled in
The finished as it'll ever be Giant's Causeway - click to see bigger!
For various work and family reasons this painting took around three months to complete and I still don't think it's there yet but Mary wants it for an exhibition tomorrow night and I am half reluctant to present it in its current state – i.e. without a frame and a glass covering to protect the pastel area! I compared my painting to the original reference photograph, not to make sure I have got every detail exactly the same, but to see if I have captured the essence of the scene. I stood back and looked at it from a distance. It's definitely not a carbon copy and I feel I have achieved something.   

So there you go! My first real attempt at acrylics. I'll have to try another one in the same style. I have a photograph taken at the same place but turned through 180˚ and looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. Again there are people (more close up) walking over similar rocks as above but against the backdrop of a slate blue sea.

Oil bars coming up soon! 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

SERC starts tomorrow

Life sometimes throws you lemons so rather than suck them I have learned to make lemonade. My 89 year old Mum had a stroke in May and visiting and looking after her post hospital means art has taken a back seat for the last three months and probably for the foreseeable future as I go to Mum's after work and sleep over four nights a week. All totally worth it mind! She's great! I've a Mac at her house should I need to be bringing work home. 

I do get Wednesdays nights off so I have booked in for another September-December course with tutor Mary Doran at SERC. That'll keep my hand in 7pm-9pm and it gives me a good reason to hang out with my buddy Anne who thankfully has signed up too. Cheryl my niece was going to get back into painting but renovating her new house took precedence this term. 

I am really looking forward to getting the acrylic brushes out and doing some mad art. I'll hopefully get to finish off my Giant's Causeway mixed media artwork in the next few weeks and start on a few others that I have planned in my head. Let's see where that goes...

I also have an idea, inspired by Paul O'Kane at Hillsborough Art Society last Wednesday night, that I could do quick watercolours at my Mum's. I have the pads, the paint and brushes so why not... it'll pass the night away and force me not to watch XFactor and Victoria or surf mindlessly on my iPad. Might as well do something constructive.

Art for All at Lisnagarvey Art Society