Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A winter poem

Those who have followed this blog periodically will have seen less posts over the last month or so.. not surprising considering how busy I have had to be on non-art related things. This is still the case and with the season that's in it, I will have little time unless I am ruthlessly disciplined. That is a trait I have to develop and I appear to be a little lacking in that department over the last few weeks, so updates and work on art has taken a back seat to marketing of art and house projects. I don't want to anticipate January events, but hopefully I will be able to sell some work beginning then, based on some of the marketing efforts and contacts I have made this week. Today I showed my work to the curator of a gallery, and their initial response was favourable. I shall talk more about this in the coming weeks. This week will see the shortest day of the year, and psychologically this is always a boost. With that here is a poem, origin unknown to set the scene, I sort of remember. I knew it better a few years ago.

When days are shortest and winds are coldest,
When snow is deepest and year is oldest,
When frost is hardest and storms are strongest,
When skies are darkest, and nights are longest,
Then powder your nose, and feather your nest,
And dress in your richest, and finest and best,
For Winter has brought you the worst it can bring,
And now it will bring you the promise of Spring!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Etsy shop prints now on sale...Visit ShanahanArt

This week I have made a series of paintings available as prints on my online Etsy store called ShanahanArt, so click on the link and follow on over to see them... you never know - you just might be tempted. And if not, check back in a short while as I will be making more of my favourite paintings available when I am happy with print colour quality. So far I have a few ready as high grade laser prints, shipping in postal tubes. I'm using the laser printer option for now and might try the more costly inkjet process at a later stage. Keep following the blog if you want to see how I am getting on or if you have an interest in my art. Some people in the print shop admired the prints so that was a sign of some interest being generated. Thats it for today...Jim

Monday, December 1, 2008

When days are darkest...

The weather is very cold this week here in Ireland but we haven't had snow so far. Temperatures have been low -- below zero or thereabouts. So I haven't had the chance to take any photos like the above, pity! This one is courtesy of wetcanvas photo library. Sales at the art fair were not so hot either and I feel that the recession was on all potential buyers minds. Still it was worth taking part and I can add this to my art cv. I will post more work here as I have the chance but lately I had a busy schedule with house projects and I am getting closer to the end of that so will hopefully get back to focusing on new paintings. In the meantime I have been looking at printer costs and options, yet I haven't bought - as it seems a huge outlay and funds are tight at the moment. I will have to decide soon...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clontarf Christmas Art Fair and other news...

Paris Street, Rainy Day 1877 by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

This week I have some paintings in the local Christmas Art Fair at Clontarf GAA club. It is a three day Friday to Sunday event on the coming weekend. I have also been busy looking at the printers available for A3 and A2 printmaking and may go down the route of buying one rather than paying someone else to print for me. I haven't decided yet, looking at the costs of various printers versus inks etc. first. I got some great results from the visit to the photographer I chose (Sheldon Photographic), and he was really helpful in creating the final files ready to print. So making some progress - now just need to get my non art projects, house decorating etc. out of the way to get more art done!! With Christmas around the corner too, it's going to be a busy time over the next while. What else is new!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting organised...Prints for sale from an emerging artist!

The above is an illustration I dug out while going through my files. It was a bit of drawing practice and I am not really sure when I did it, maybe two years ago or less. I am pleased with how it turned out as I drew it entirely in ink and one mistake meant it was finished and couldn't be corrected. So it forced me to really focus. Having said that I wouldn't recommend to do this, it is very unnerving if you are afraid of making a mistake!
This week I am getting some paintings photographed professionally to enable me to make prints. So very soon I will be able to offer a range of prints in various sizes and on various surfaces, ranging from archival quality paper to canvas. Check back over the next while and you will be able to see as I set up the prints for sale section of the Etsy shop or offer them for sale at prices which are more affordable than the originals. Also I will be able to sell images of which before I didn't want to sell the original.
I have been busier than anticipated over the last while and shall post more progress as I get the chance on the recent paintings... pontoon bridge and clare island. In the meantime why not explore some of the rest of this blog...there's lots to see!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oil Painting of Clare Island - Irish Landscape Painting

This is the painting of Clare Island that I started this week - based on photos taken by my parents while touring in County Mayo. To those not familiar with Ireland, Mayo is in the far west, north of Galway and contains some really incredible scenery. Also, as I have always thought, the ever-changing skies are quite stunning at times there.
Below are some progress photos showing my initial drawing and work on the underpainting. The above photo is at the finish of the underpainting stage, more or less. As the photos are taken indoors they are a little dull compared to the reality of the actual colours. I will post further as I progress it....so check back. Also feel free to visit my online shop - click shanahanart or the etsy link on the right below my photo. I hope soon to organise prints of my work so check back also if interested in buying some of my work as a print.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Changing circumstances -- More to follow...

This week has been eventful and due to circumstances at this moment I now anticipate having more time to concentrate on my art for the foreseeable future. Enough about that, except to say that I have the chance to really push my ability and see how far I can stretch myself over the following weeks and months. This is a development I was not entirely unprepared for and I see it as an opportunity in disguise.

Last night I attended the opening of an exhibition by Claudio Viscardi, opened by Bill Cullen, a prominent businessman in Ireland (currently he plays the same part of Donald Trump in the Irish version of The Apprentice). It was in Gormley Fine Art in the centre of Dublin. It was an interesting exhibition, by this well established artist (Claudio is dual Irish Swiss nationality and lives in the Beara Penninsula Kerry) and a reporter was taking photos. Bill Cullen is quite flamboyant and gave a lively speech to open proceedings. There was a wine reception and Bill's teenage children played traditional music on harp. I stayed for about an hour. The exhibition was a chance to meet other artists and art enthusiasts and I enjoyed conversation with several people there.

I am entering some paintings in a Christmas art fair to be held in the rugby club in the Clontarf area of Dublin, so have to decide what ones I will put in this next week.

Thats about it for an update. There will be some more frequent postings of work in the following weeks as I have the time. I am looking to start a series of paintings of Irish landscapes, unless I get distracted onto under themes, which happens on occasion too...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hallowe'en - Where has the year gone?

The summer is well and truely gone and with the advent of Hallowe'en the rush into Christmas will surely begin in earnest. Looking back, it's easy to say time has gone quickly, but actually when I really consider it, I can see that I have done a lot of things with the time. That's good - although sometimes, so I've been told, it's okay to just do nothing. That's okay for a short while to relax, but not in the long run. I have progressed a lot of goals in the art field this year and can say I have learnt a fair amount along the way. This week I used an online company to design and order some business cards, so hopefully they will arrive in due course. The designing was very easy and I liked the site. http://www.moo.com/ Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to paint this weekend due to other commitments, but shall squeeze some time in eventually. This is just the way it will be for another month, I estimate. As for the week that's in it, here's a short rhyme, more than a poem that I always liked.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I saw a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
O God - I wish he'd go away.

Wishing all a creepy hallowe'en. If you're in the mood for a scary story I highly recommend "Pet Semetary" by Stephen King, and if you dare, check out "The haunted painting - ebay" for a creepy story (or maybe it's just hype).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pontoon Bridge, Work in Progress and Group Hug in Ireland

Here is my small amount of progress on the latest painting I am working on. I have less than an hour each evening to advance it, but slow and steady will get there in the end. Due to the dark evenings here in Ireland I wasn't able to photograph this painting in daylight outdoors and hence the slightly muted tone to what is actually a white canvas. Also the colours are not accurate. I'll get better photos at the weekend hopefully.

This week also I have been doing a little research on the types of printer available for printing A3 size. So if anyone has printed fine art in an A3 size I'd be happy to hear what type of printer you used, if you were happy with the result? I have a fair idea what I want to get at this stage. Once I reach the stage of printing successfully I will be able to offer many of the paintings I don't want to part with, as prints.


Meanwhile here's a little story of something that happened in Ireland during the week. It was related on the free newspaper that they give out in the mornings. I wonder would it happen anywhere else in the world.

Here's the story as it was sent to the paper's letters page by a passenger....

"I'm just writing to let your readers know about a truely amazing thing that happened on the commuter train from Drogheda to Dublin on Monday morning. I was standing and overheard everything. A petite older woman was complaining to a tall young man sitting across from her that his feet were encroaching on her space beneath the small table between them. I'm fairly sure these people hadn't met before. The woman had a large handbag between her feet and was telling the young man to keep his feet on his side. The young man said something about the woman kicking him and there was a standoff. Then the young man remarked that it was early ( 7:30am) and that he didn't want to argue. This is where it gets good. He then stood up in the aisle of the train and offered the woman a hug. To the surprise of everyone around -- including myself -- the woman got up and the two embraced, and I even detected a tear in the woman's eye. The young man then joked and offered a hug to 'anyone else' around him. Remarkably, a gentleman standing in the aisle not too far from me laughed and said that he would take a hug -- these two then embraced. Everyone around had by now tuned into what was happening and there was a good degree of laughter and sounds of approval. The three huggers, the older woman, the young man and the standing gentleman were now joking together and offered to hug other commuters. Incredibly, more people did hug -- I even hugged a young woman standing beside me. By now there was much laughter and amusement in the carriage and people at either end were straining to see what all the fuss was about. It was a genuine and very funny moment. I wish I could have bottled it. "

From Amazed by email.

I really enjoyed reading that story. It sounds like one of those surreal happenings that they always put in films, so just thought it would be interesting to share with others, especially as so many of us commute by train these days. Anyway that's it for the moment - check back in again another time for more snippets of Ireland and my art. Meanwhile feel free to explore the blog further or check out my new Etsy store via the link on the right, and the gallery too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Etsy Shop Now Open -- ShanahanArt

Yesterday I joined Etsy as a seller. I went through the whole shop setup procedure and now have a niche in the Etsy "Mall". Hopefully I can see some interest from the online world. I will be listing some paintings at the shop which might also be for sale on the blog gallery (see bottom of this page). Where prices are converted to US dollars for Etsy I have tried to keep prices the same as the euro price although some discrepancies may arise due to the exchange rate changing! Sorry if that is confusing. Also I am just getting to grips with the paypal setup, so if you wish to buy and are experiencing difficult, just send me an email. I am almost certain I have it configured correctly but one never knows.
I am enjoying the whole experience of learning about online marketing. I feel I have really learnt a lot in the last few months, and it's not finished yet. Apart from the blog and other technical online things, I have been researching the use of printers and lots of other stuff that artists need to know about for general day to day survival. I guess it all takes time, but being savvy about marketing is an artform in itself and it really helps to know what to do. I have learnt a lot by reading the advice from many artists who contribute to online forums. To them I am very grateful. If I can begin to carve out a niche market for my work I will consider the last few months well spent. At the moment I still consider myself an emerging artist, -- but one to watch! You can't beat modesty...

One thing I have realised from reading the experiences of other artists is the occurrence of burn-out. It can be difficult to be focused and creating art is quite intense at times. That's why being able to take time out with friends or to relax at something else is most important. I definitely know this to be true for me, I need variety. Fortunately I have a lot of non-art related interests to divert me. I go through phases of creativity and then need to refresh, so to speak. I guess like most things in life, we need to keep a balance.

Anyway that's it for now - check out my Etsy store at ShanahanArt if you're curious and want to see what I did. Just click on the link under my photo on the right of the posts. Enjoy and check back here for new work in progress which I will be posting over the next while.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Oil Painting Demonstration -- Pontoon Bridge

I sketched this out today in around 40 minutes. This will be a 16"x12" oil painting of Pontoon Bridge in Mayo. I am working from a postcard a neighbour gave me, who requested a painting of this scene. Apparently it is a favourite fishing spot, or was in the past. I am not sure what it is like now. The postcard is quite old. I don't have much free time these days, so I will have to be really efficient with my time to make it progress. Check back to see it's progress over the next week or so. Meanwhile you can see my recent and past works of art in my gallery or scroll down to the bottom of this page to see current art for sale.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art for Sale Gallery

Child with Dove by Picasso -- 1901
I have just set up an addition to the blog. The Art for Sale Gallery is now located at the bottom of the blog and will be added to, as I produce works I want to sell - just scroll down to see it. As my "Sunlit Daisy" has been a popular painting I hope to source a print maker and make it available at a reasonable cost as a print. I will do this for other paintings also in due course. For now I just have originals for sale. Keep checking the gallery for new works and enjoy the blog!
The above painting is by Picasso. It is one of his earlier works and one I admire a lot for it's simplicity and gentle charm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slideshow Gallery of my Art

Grand Canal, Dublin, Ireland
I've been looking at the various Flash Gallery programs available out there and there are a few free options. One of them is now available via my artvitae website. Here is a quick jump to it. For a slideshow gallery of my art, showing mostly current work click Jim Shanahan Gallery of Art or in future just click Gallery Art Slideshow link on the right below my photo. Enjoy your visit.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Brush up your Shakespeare...Poetry Corner

Here's the latest offering from the poetry corner - it's a poem by Shakespeare and one I like for it's final lines which are very uplifting.
Sonnet XXIX

When in dispute with fortune and mens eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcaste state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my faith,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in this state myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the Lark at break of day arising,
From sullen earth sings hymns at heavens gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

There is a lot in this poem, the lines following on each other in a natural rhythm, speaking of things that we all experience. The metaphor of the lark arising from the sullen earth makes us feel like flying up into a bright blue sky on a sunny morning. Each word is so precise and conveys so much that it seems impossible that any other could take it's place. Shakespeare isn't known as one of the best writers ever for nothing...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Swans and Cygnets - Not so recent work!

As I am so busy outside of work with house projects at the moment I thought it might be the time to show some work I did a long time ago. The above is a painting that is hanging in my house. I don't think I could part with this painting easily. It was one of my first attempts to create a really professional level painting. At that time, early 1990s I felt I was really starting to improve beyond the level I had been at previously. Now I realise how far there really is to go, and how far imagination and creativity can be stretched. Still, feel free to post comments about this work...I enjoy the feedback, good or bad.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reference Photos - gathering painting ideas.

This is a photo I have been given by a friend as a possible reference for painting. The lighthouse is in Northern Ireland I believe, if I remember what they said. I have to ask again. It's an interesting enough scene - so might add it to the list of possible candidates for a painting. If I had been there I would probably have tried to take a photo with more expanse of water in it. Having said that, it's a great photo and well taken. I think I'm getting too critical!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Seeing is believing...Can the brain control Colour Perception?

This is just to illustrate how important it is to be aware of colour combinations and how one colour can influence another. Can you believe that A and B above are actually the same colour? You better believe it, because they are! If you are an unbeliever then try a cut and paste. This goes to prove how much the brain interprets our reality for us. Colours appear to change when placed beside different colours - so we can enjoy a lot of fun when experimenting with the best combinations. Experience helps then to choose the best combinations or ones that give a desired effect. If you find colours that go well together, keep a notebook and write them down. Build up a reference file of colours you like together. It will be well worthwhile.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Drawing People

Drawing people is something I don't do enough of, although I consider it an essential skill as an artist. People are one of the most common elements that you may be required to put in a painting. They create interest in what can be an otherwise vacant scene. Immediately, they raise questions in the viewers mind. Who is that? What are they doing, thinking, expressing... etc. They make people study the picture in more detail, and viewers sometimes remember similar instances in their own lives. Perhaps someone in the painting is buying flowers, looking at a street busker, or going somewhere. Perhaps they are just enjoying a quiet moment. Either way - the presence of a person in the scene will completely change the atmosphere and message of the art. Here's a sketch I did in biro a while back and was just to practice. I never meant it to be anything other than that. Enjoy it for what it is.

I will continue to be very time short over the next two months unfortunately from art side of things. So bear with me and check back from time to time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

World's oldest man is 113 today!

First up I'd like to show you my etsy shop. I hope you enjoy visiting!
And now...
A bit of a diversion from art, but I am interested in the oldest inhabitants of this planet and there are now only a few people left who were born in the 1890's. Tomoshi Tanebe is one of them and today in Japan he celebrates his 113th birthday!
Hope he enjoys it!
The oldest ever person was Jeanne Calment, and getting back to the art theme, she met Van Gogh when she was 13. It was 1888 and he came into her uncle's drapery shop to buy some canvas material. He spoke with her briefly, and she remembered him as being somewhat rude, sick-looking and contrary. So that was a fairly good assessment of his personality I would think.
She died around 1997 or 1998. She spent her whole life in Arles in the south of France. She cycled until the age of 100 and lived alone until she was 110!! Photo gallery of Jeanne Calment.


Also this year as of today there are 12 remaining soldiers from the first world war still alive, most of whom did not see active combat. All are on the allied powers side, France, Britain USA. In May this year the last remaining central power soldier ( Germany, Austria-Hungary side) died. There is only one survivor from the horrific western front trench war still alive. His name is Harry Patch. He is 110. He is the 9th oldest man in the world. Harry Patch biography. Harry is affectionately known as The last Tommy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Poetry Corner

West wind - were dost thou blow,
The small rain down can rain,
God - that my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again.
Anonymous.
Now I am taking stock and resting from painting. Soon I will feel myself wanting to begin painting again, but for now I am at that in-between stage that I always find myself going through from time to time. It's hard to describe but it always happens this way. I take a breather for a while and then feel drawn back to painting. I guess it's a natural recharging of the batteries. I think sometimes it's good to do this. But I won't get too lazy... so keep checking in for when I post new work. Enjoy the poetry corner!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Finding time for art...

The last weeks have become increasingly busy for me outside of my 40 hour working week as I have had to do a number of house projects also. Redecorating, etc. This will be continuing for some time. Therefore the blog is going to be the item that gets squeezed. Somethings gotta give...
Still I hope to use my time efficiently and get some art painting done. I think it is best to keep several works on the go if possible as it is easier to be motivated when you can change between them. So if possible I shall be able to post some more work as I progress it, over the next weeks. I anticipate that the busy time will last until around November. It depends on how much I push myself. And it can't be all work and no play either!!
The above photo is of the Asgard II , the only Irish sail training vessel. It was one of the participants in the tall ships race, an event that was held (annually I think) between various destinations on the Irish, South England, French and Iberian coastlines. It held a crew of 29 approx. Last week it sank off the coast of Brittany. At 2am an alarm was triggered showing it was taking water. All crew, including 20 or so trainees evacuated to lifeboats and it sank by 7am. It had been on it's way to a port in Brittany for maintenance. How ironic! The actual cause of the sinking is still unknown.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back from holiday...

Just back from a break for last week or so and feeling tired with a lot of things to catch up on. Therefore the blog has been dormant. I will kick start things back to life over the next few days.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Oil Paint -- Art Instruction -- Color Theory in Perspective - Aerial Perspective

Todays post is very useful for learning about why we see things as they are... but first I'd like to introduce you to my etsy shop where you can buy beautiful prints of my favourite paintings. Feel free to browse and even buy for a friend or yourself, they make great presents at affordable prices, if you are stuck for what to get someone.

Also see my Art Designs on clothes for sale. Visit http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/jim-shanahan to purchase beautiful designs of my art on clothing. Beautiful flower designs and others on scarfs and tops. Enjoy and have a chance to buy a unique item - not available anywhere else or in shops, created by me!!

Aerial Perspective

Creating the illusion of three dimensional distance on a two-dimensional surface is not an easy task. It helps to follow simple rules relating to what is known as aerial perspective. Aerial perspective doesn't mean aerial viewpoint! Here's a little background theory.



At midday we notice the most intense blue sky. White sunlight is travelling through the air and certain wavelengths are being scattered by the atmosphere. Small oxygen and nitrogen molecules scatter the shorter wavelength rays, the violet and blue portions of the sun's light. These bluish light rays bounce around everywhere and create the blue sky we see. But why is the sky not violet then? Actually our eyes are more sensitive to blue and the sun emits more blue light than violet so blue predominates in the light that is scattered. At sunset the rays have to travel through more atmosphere to reach our eye, so all blue is lost (refracted / scattered) and what remains is the red / orange rays. Hence red sunset! Simple enough.


So what does that tell us..
Well during daylight, that there is a lot of blue light particles scattering around in the atmosphere around us. So if we look at something they are in our line of sight. Each contributes a little blue to what we see. The further away an object is from us, the more of these blue light particles are in our way making the object take on a bluer appearance. Hence the faraway mountains appear blue. Yellow is the first naturally occurring colour to disappear due to this blue effect, as yellow and blue make green - so yellows become greener and fade. Red is not commonly found in nature, but it changes to purples or browns, losing intensity with distance.

Now to complicate things a little more. This explains the major effect of aerial perspective. But there are some minor effects. With distance less light of any colour reaches us, so colour becomes less intense, even as it tends to blue. So colour in general fades. The more light an object emits the more this is evident, and the object blends more with the surroundings. White objects emit the most light, all the wavelengths, so the contrast between them and surroundings is reduced the most. Black objects absorb light so are actually absorbing some of the blue and hence a slight increase in contrast is created between them and surroundings! Nevertheless this effect is minimal compared to the first blue haze effect. But it does mean contrast between light and dark is greatest up close, so worth bearing in mind.


What happens at night? Well if the object is black not much! You can't see it. But if an object is luminous or emitting light of any description, most lightly due to reflecting light from a light source, then that light is not passing through an atmosphere full of blue light particles as there is no sun. A full moon might act a little like the sun but generally speaking it has little influence. What does happen is that as before light reaching you from the object is scattering - the atmosphere is still there! So the light with longest wavelengths reaches you most easily. These are reds, browns and yellows. Mostly shades that tend toward dull reds and browns reach you.

Well thats about it for the understanding. Have a look at the photos for the reality of what it means to colour choice in landscapes. Also don't forget, feel free to check out my etsy shop for beautiful prints of my paintings.

Also see my Art Designs on clothes for sale. Visit http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/jim-shanahan to purchase beautiful designs of my art on clothing. Beautiful flower designs and others on scarfs and tops. Enjoy and have a chance to buy a unique item - not available anywhere else or in shops, created by me!!

Here are some other articles that might be of interest.
Landscape Oil Painting Demonstration
Landscape Painting showing Aerial Perspective
Seascape showing some Aerial Perspective
Seascape 2 showing Aerial Perspective



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poetry Diversion

It's that time again... so here's a light-hearted take on that great poem "If" with sincere apologies to Rudyard Kipling. Hope it's not too corny - I gave it my best shot.

If you can make your mark when all about you,
Are falling short and blaming it on you.
If you can try to draw when all men doubt you,
A perfect circle or a straight line too.
If you can see and be inspired by seeing,
What others don't and only strive in vain,
Or being copied don't give way to copying,
And yet don't get too proud nor talk Artspeak.

If you can dream, transferring dreams to canvas,
If you can think and then make thoughts your muse,
If you can deal with Art-houses and auctions,
And treat those two imposters just the same,
If you can bear to see what you have painted,
Cliched by critics and misunderstood,
And be rebuked repeatedly by galleries,
Yet walk on to the next with worn out shoes.

If you can make a mess of most your drawings,
And though frustration rises not get cross,
Erase, to start again at your beginnings,
And not regret a moments effort lost.
If you can face up to procrastination,
And sit and paint 'til brain and limb go numb,
And when you stomach says there's nothing in you,
Break briefly for some food but then paint on.

If you can keep your shirt and get an agent,
And sell to kings - being sure to charge enough,
If neither foes nor loving friends can stop you,
From painting frequently but not too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving canvas,
With what looks something more than colours run,
You might become a rich and famous Artist,
Unfortunately - long after you're gone!

Don't take this too seriously. Art is not that intense, it's meant to be fun. It's just a crazy poem!
Check back again when I will progress the blog with more work or information on art technique.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Current work in progress...

The blog has been strange lately. Maybe it's the holiday season but I have gone from a steady double figures back to almost zero everyday for my traffic stats. I don't know why so I will just keeping posting and ignore the stats. Besides I've been busy with this latest work and life in general.

The above is a diversion from landscape painting in the traditional sense and not typical recent work. It's an idea I have had to create a really atmospheric painting of the sea. It is just moving beyond the initial stages and has a long way to go. As I have no photo to work from, I am having to figure out the balance of colour and shapes as I go. So it is taking longer than usual. I might start another painting while keeping this on the go as this is a large enough painting and is taking it's time. Also I want to keep working on more saleable works. So I will look at what else I shall start over the next while. At the moment the people in the background are liable to be changed somewhat as I am not happy with the way I have sketched them so much. When I get this finished to my satisfaction I will post the completed image.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IrishArt - a website for galleries...

Red Vineyard at Arles

The above is the only painting ever sold by Van Gogh during his life. It sold for 400 francs in Brussels in 1890 a few months before he died. It is now in the Pushkin museum in Moscow.

Some news of interest to my art progress - I have received a promotional email from a site I registered on, http://www.irishart.com/ . A few months ago while in the process of getting up to speed in the art market, I came across this site. They specialise in displaying new artists to galleries in Ireland. They have connections to all galleries in the country and encourage new artists to register and upload works for galleries to review. They also trawl their own site looking at the art that is uploaded and then contact the galleries to see if they are interested. I have uploaded several works done recently, and maybe it will help. In the email they are inviting artists who registered to display new works. One of the things I have begun to see is a consistent style in my work, which is a somewhat useful development. This is something all galleries seem to want, so it can't be a bad thing. Still, that shouldn't mean I don't gradually refine and improve my style.

And the catch... well none so far, no cost and free advertising for my art, but one unusual thing and actually I like this fact... You can't see the art you upload, only the galleries that are registered to the site can see it. So also can people who register as collectors. But the general public and artists can't see the art they upload or other artists upload. I might register as a collector!

Finally they also are now receiving interest from galleries in the states and elsewhere for art and have started compiling a list of the artists who wish to be considered. I might think about that although shipping to states is costly.

Check back during the week as I may upload a few shots of a new work which is a bit of a diversion from recent work. I am including some people in it - something I don't do enough of I am beginning to think.

Reflecting on this blog process, my brother advised me to pace myself and I have to agree. I posted a lot of stuff in the first two months as I wanted to form a base of articles to get the blog up and running. I can't keep that pace up but will definitely stay posting on a less frequent but still consistent rate, hopefully two or three times a week. And as I improve at painting and mixing colours I am learning and getting slightly faster all the time, so I hope to have more and better quality work being finished to post here as time goes on. So exciting times ahead for this yet to be discovered artist. Who knows whether I will be the next artist to watch. One thing for sure, I'm learning the value of momentum. Does it apply to becoming collectable as an artist in the same way it seems to apply to blogging. Time will tell...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Two Months of Blogging!

Wow- two months of blogging, does that make me a veteran yet? Actually I feel that the blog is beginning to take on a tiny bit of momentum. If it was lying on a slab in the morgue, I'd say that I just saw the big toe twitch. Hope rigor mortis doesn't set in soon,... From looking at the stats I have received hits from 42 of the 50 states in USA!! So thanks America. Visits per day are averaging in low double figures and rising slowly. Europe is a different story. It seems most searchs are not in English. Top countries have been USA, UK, Canada, Ireland and Australia/New Zealand. The fact that more people are seeing my art than the static website I have is encouraging, and I find the blog interaction great. So thanks to all those folks who take the time to comment, much appreciated.

I've been thinking also about the structure of the blog. I want to collect all my paintings together into one spot where they can be viewed quickly. I need to set up a gallery page for that - so that might be next week. All in all, the experience is a great learning curve and I highly recommend it to anyone artist or anyone who has a hobby they want to share. So I will post again in future on progress and hope that progress will keep me motivated. It's a circle of momentum it seems, one leads back to the other. The main purpose of the blog is to raise my profile as an artist and sell paintings. From what I can see I really need to kickstart my presence on Etsy, so that will be my next little project. When I get set up be sure to check for me there... I'll post links on this site. Thanks Jim

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weekend will be busy...

Sunflower Serenade

This weekend the blog will take a backseat somewhat as I have a number of social events to attend. It might be Monday before I get free. So just time to load up this work from last year. This was not a painting I spent a lot of time working on. I tried to complete it as quickly as possible. Despite this I am happy with the outcome for the time involved. It's on a light canvas board and measures 11" x 9" approx. Oils of course. Hope it brings a little sunshine into your days... Until next post. If you like it let me know, I might consider selling it, although I'm kinda fond of this one. Jimsartemail@hotmail.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My oldest drawing and other things...


My first drawing!
The above is most likely not my first but it is the oldest drawing I possess. I drew it when I was six which is a long time ago now! I may be a bit bious but I am kinda proud of it. I wanted to get an electronic record of it and while doing that I said I might as well put it on the blog. Actually I have now digitally photographed a lot of paintings that otherwise I never bothered to before, since the blog began. And over the weeks and months I shall show them in stages.

Complimentary and Complementary Colours
Probably the biggest mistake in the art world vocabulary, I'm guilty of this myself. In the interests of search engines my article on complementary colours sometimes calls them complimentary colours. What's the difference?

Well complementary colours look good side by side, they complement each other.
Complimentary colours are ones that probably like to say nice things about each other!!!

Now as for color and colour...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Poetry Corner ... Autumn Poem!

With the dismal summer we are having here in Ireland, (we recently had a month's rain in five hours) I think we should just forget it and move on to Autumn. Maybe it will be better. After all we often get an Indian summer here, as in good weather in September. So I thought the poem that follows is appropriate for to herald in the next season. Actually there might still be some hope for a few fine days here, but nobody is holding their breath.

So here is a poem that might be appropriate...it's raining even as I type this!!

Feathers of the willow

The feathers of the willow
are half of them grown yellow,
Above the swelling stream.
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes
And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
His head is white as snow.
The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
The robin pipeth now.

Richard Watson Dixon (1833-1900)

The above photo is a typical example of a view that could be executed using a minimum of colour - analagous or monochromatic colour scheme. I have to say I really like www.wetcanvas.com reference gallery. It has some great photos. I might try using ideas from this photo for a future painting.
That's it for now. Until another rainy day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fantasy Oil Painting - The Dream by the River

Fantasy Oil Painting - The Dream by the River

The above painting was started a long time ago but only finished last year. It was one of a number of fantasy paintings which I wanted to paint for my own enjoyment. I had the name in mind first before I ever visualised the actual painting. I had to make a number of changes during working on it. I started and finished a lot of other paintings in between but kept going back to it. To see some of the other work in this series see Symphony of Silence and Desert of the Blue Stones. Also Inverted Desert which came about as a result of the colours I chose in Desert of the Blue Stones. I have a number of other ideas I want to paint to add to this series in my own time. I might eventually get around to them but I want to concentrate mainly on more saleable works, so the series is taking a backseat but progressing slowly. If I add to it, I shall post the next work on the blog - probably in a few months time. Patience is important in art when you are working fulltime! Feel free to comment on this work, as I'm interested in feedback.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Impressionist Movement - A Brief Glance

Chasing Butterflies 1874 Berthe Morisot
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The Impressionists
The Impressionists were a loosely associated group of painters that worked mainly in France during the later half of the 19th century. The movements main artists were:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Mary Cassett (1844-1926)
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

During the course of the 19th century the government of France sponsored an annual exhibition to recognise and identify new artistic talent. This was known as the Salon. The Salon's view of art was that it should follow the classical traditions of the Rennaissance Period - dark browns and black in dark paintings. Anyone who didn't adher to the views of the Salon was left out in the cold. Artists rebelled against this and struggled against the Salon's monopoly. Those that could afford to, had private exhibitions. Eventually in 1874 an exhibition by rebel artists was organised in the centre of Paris and opened the same week as the Salon's exhibition. Over the next 12 years over fifty "rebel" artists exhibited. They had 8 exhibitions in the years 1874-1886. The movement was called the impressionists after a work called " Impression, Sunrise" by Monet in 1874, and also due to the unclear style of their drawing and lack of attention to detail. The name stuck, and was adopted by the artists for their future exhibitions, as they had struggled to define a name for their group previously.

Although he had partaken in the last five exhibitions Paul Gauguin is considered a post-impressionist as is Vincent Van Gogh. The majority of Van Goghs work was created as the movement was past it's peak and although he worked with them during his time in Paris, he sought an individualistic pathway for his art. Gauguin also was to follow such an individual pathway.
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On the Grass 1874 Berthe Morisot

Les Parapluies 1883 Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Well I hope you enjoyed this short glimpse into art past. Perhaps I will revisit some of these artists works in the blog again at a later date. In the meantime, check back again for my completion of Clew Bay landscape. It should be finished this week.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Oil Painting Demonstration - Clew Bay Part III

Working on the Detail - Clew Bay Oil Painting
Continuing on from last week Part I and Part II of this online oil painting work in progress, the following pictures show how I have progressed beyond the initial underpainting.

In the above, I have worked on the cloud to try and deepen the layer of paint as it was a little thin, and also to define the cloud shapes. The colour may be a little too intense and I may go over it with a glaze at the final stage, later, but for now I will leave it to dry. I used mostly titanium white with manganese blue, so nothing unusual there.

Next, I moved onto the mountains and using ultramarine blue with the same white, I defined the mountain shadows in a more definite way. I used a mix of raw umber, tiniest amount with ultramarine or cobalt blue and titanium white to create the grey blue of the rest of the mountains. I tried to define the shape of the mountains using the brushstrokes. I also reduced the green of the mountain shoreline by glazing over with the same colour mix very lightly. I might have to go over this whole mountain section with a glaze to add a more bluish tinge to everything and push it into the far distance, but will decide at a later stage.
I also covered the water with a mix of manganese blue and titanium white as the underpainting was very thin. When this is dry I may put some additional shadow on the water, but for now this is it.

On to the middle ground now, and this covers from the front of the mountains to just below the beach on right. In this area there is a need for a lot of colour variation. I wanted to keep colour and colour intensity harmony. I felt the island on the right was too yellow for it's distance, so I toned it down (titanium white mixed with ultramarine blue and cadmium yellow). I used slight variations of this mix on the other island areas, darkening or lightening the mix as necessary using less or more of the white or blue. It's not an exact science. Basically all I did was to cover over this area, all parts in a thicker layer of colour so as not to have any areas of thin paint left. I used cobalt blue or ultramarine blue with cadmium yellow or lemon yellow to create different greens here. I darkened areas using raw umber mixed with either of the blues and I created light greys using white to the darkened mix. That about somes it up.

For the foreground it's a similar story. I covered all the foreground with fresh paint to remove the thin paint look. I tried to create colour variety by mixing various greens as I had done in the underpainting, and the only significant detail to note was I added some manganese blue into the field on the right. You can see it in small streaks standing out. It creates a little link to the same colour in the water and sky.
The picture is almost finished. The next photo I upload will hopefully be the finished painting, all going well. Looking at it, I could leave it but might just try the glaze on sky and mountains, and add slight shadow to water. Both are risky but I'll be careful. Check back during the week to see what happens.
It's been a busy weekend for me so the blog put it's feet up. I didn't as I had a lot of work to do on my home. Having a number of projects to do at home is a sure fire way to stop you doing art. I just completed laying a section of patio, so feel a sense of achievement from that, but I'm also glad I'm getting that job out of the way too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oil Painting Demonstration -- Clew Bay Part II

Oil Painting Demonstration - Irish Landscape
As promised, here is the follow on from the initial sketch Part I for this painting of Clew Bay, which I am working on at the moment.

Painting the Undercoat
The above shows the initial undercoating - the main purpose at this stage is to establish the main colour features for all elements. For the sky, I mixed manganese blue with titanium white and used a number 1 hog hair filbert brush to work in the cloud shapes. I varied the mix proportions to get darker or lighter shadows as necessary. For the mountains I mixed ultramarine blue with the same white for the cloud shadows, and the same blue with white and raw umber (very small amount) to create the grey of the mountains. If the grey turns out correctly mixed, it should have a slight blue feel.
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Mixing Green in Landscape Painting
There are a lot of colour combinations to explain in the above, so this is a bit more of an instinctive painting than the last demonstration of painting a snow scene. The main thing about painting landscapes is to avoid having too much of one shade or colour green. This happens a lot for beginners. I try always to avoid this, having areas of similar green too much. Every area of the painting should have some variety. Our eyes are very sensitive to shades in the green spectrum so we can recognise a large amount of different shades. Mixing blues and yellows creates various greens, but knowing what you are doing to get a certain shade comes from knowing the places of the colours you are mixing on the colour wheel.

In the above, and the following pictures I mixed greens as follows:

For darker dull area greens, ultramarine blue with cadium yellow.
For very dark areas, increase the ultramarine blue in the above mix or include viridian green.

For medium bright greens, ultramarine blue with lemon yellow or cobalt blue with cadmium yellow, manganese blue with cadium yellow.

For bright vivid greens, manganese blue with lemon yellow.

To desaturate the colour of a mix, include the opposite colour on the colour wheel to neutralise down the hue. For example, add a hint of cadmium red or permanent rose, very very tiny amount.

I didn't use really bright greens so much in the painting, as they are not needed. Distance also reduces the greens intensity. As a green recedes into the distance it will lose the yellow component and the blue component becomes more obvious. So don't include too much yellow on it's own in the distant parts. It will ruin the aerial perspective effect. Remember warm colours advance, cool colours recede.
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For the grey of the beach areas, you can use a combination of ultramarine blue with raw umber, or cobalt blue with raw umber. The grey can be lightened with titanium white. It's also good to try varying colours away from what you see in the photo. I tried a little area of more purple shade on some beach areas, using ultramarine blue with raw umber.
The water is similar to the sky, and is just a light coat of paint, using manganese blue and white.

I tried to cover the whole canvas with paint at this underpainting stage to remove the white glow of the gesso. This makes it easier to see colour and light balance as I progress on to the final painting. Below is where things are at the end of underpainting. If you are enjoying this demonstration be sure to check back during the next week, as I complete this picture.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Previous Work - Oil Painting

Freedom - Detail

This is a painting I remember working on in my grandmothers old farmhouse, quite some years ago. I finished it at a slower pace than work I have done recently - not sure if faster is better. Still think about that from time to time. I used to spend a lot of time on some paintings, to get them really perfect. I often felt it was worth it. But on reflection, it really was too intense perhaps.


To a child dancing in the wind
Dance there upon the shore,
What need have you to care,
For winds or waters roar,
And tumble out your hair,
That the salt drops have wet,
Being young you have not known,
The fool's triumph nor yet,
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead,
And all the sheaves to bind
What need have you to dread,
The monstrous crying of the wind.
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William Butler Yeats. 1865-1939
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I have omitted the second verse...not as nice as above.