Friday, November 29, 2013

Fragments from New York II

Fragments of New York, part II - oil on museum panel - 12"x8"

The second part of the two part still life painting I recently completed.

A selection of my work will be on show at the Jorgensen Fine Art Gallery, Christmas Exhibition
which opens this Sunday, December 1st at 2.00 - 6.00pm.
If you are in Dublin please do call in to the gallery to see the works on display.

The Hibernian Way, Dublin 2.
Telephone: + 353 1 7645734

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Red Quarters & Fragments from New York

Red Quarters & Fragments from New York, part I - oil on museum panel - 12"x8"

This is an image of the first of a two part painting I recently created.

The paintings were made as a reflection and tribute to my time spent at the Art Students League of New York. During that time I worked in the studio of the painter and teacher Gregg Kreutz. The  two paintings are both made up of cropped fragments of an original by Kreutz ( Still Life with Persian Vase).

I had direct contact with these objects and many more in the various still life set ups and cupboards in the studio.  It was such a strange experience for me to see and be with objects and materials that I had become familiar with through books and various reproductions.

The many experiences I had from working in this studio further enhanced for me the magical and transformative qualities inherent in painting when seen through poetic eyes and described through the right hands.

(Detail Above)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Artist's Shelf

The Artist's Shelf - oil on museum panel - 12"x8"

Just put the finishing touches to this piece a few days ago and am really looking forward to working a thin coat of varnish into it when it's completely dry.

The warm light cast over the objects allowed me great play in the cooler shadow areas, which almost vibrate.

I really enjoyed bring this piece to life.

- Richard

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Imperishable Crown

An Imperishable Crown - oil on museum panel - 12"x8"

This piece will feature in my coming solo exhibit at Jorgensen Fine Art in the New Year.
You will also be able to see a selection of my work at Ib Jorgensen's Christmas event exhibition
which opens soon on December 1st - details to follow.

As well as at the recent Irish Antiques Dealers' Fair, which opened at the Royal Dublin Society in September, I learnt that Ib represented my work this month at VUE, Ireland's National Contemporary Art Fair at the Royal Hibernian Academy which brings together 17 of the leading Irish contemporary galleries from around the country.

The painting above harks back to my time spent painting in studio at the Art Students League of New York.
The studios at the top of the building had this diffused north light which is remembered here. It filtered in from fogged out windows set at an angle in the roof and made for a wonderful atmosphere.

- Richard

Sunday, November 17, 2013

After the Market & another process

After the Market - oil on museum gesso panel - 12"x8" - sold

Thought to show another recent painting and its process, to illustrate how I might approach each piece differently at the outset of it's creation. This piece was created more 'Instinctually' - building the painting up, initially through the indication of tone, the rough placement of the objects and their scale through a sort of freeform dialogue as I went. It was a somewhat less 'Cerebral' approach in comparison to the recent piece illustrated using the grid of 'harmonic divisions'.

The initial rough in.

The second stage.

This is an image of the painting in it's final stage.
The painting actually has a greener hue to the background but I find in many instances that my camera doesn't pick up these subtle shifts in colour. I have to get myself a better camera! Did you hear that Santa!?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Creative Process, Grids and Colouring Pencils

During my time away I was sketching and taking notes on paintings that spoke to me at the museums and galleries I visited in Paris and Madrid.

Before I had left for Europe I began studying and endeavoring to apply, if somewhat crudely, a classical gridding system to my work to aid its development and try something new!

I had been looking at the work of the Irish modernist painter Sean Keating again, (mostly in relation to my commissioned project for SEPIL) and was struck by how he used different forms of gridding in many of his compositions (mostly to aid enlargement from staged photos). Also, upon reading about many of the painting ateliers, none of which exist here in Ireland yet, I learnt that the study of  harmonic divisions developed in the studios of architects and painters, using pythagorean laws and theories during the renaissance where common practice and staple knowledge which was passed down.

At the Prado I saw first hand how some of these grids were used in both simple and complex ways. A great example was that of Ribera's painting, 'The Martyrdom of Saint Philip', 1639.

Here is a couple of images of a piece in process, and in which I have employed the grid at the outset to aid my composition.

This Still Life, lite by natural north light, depicts my jar of my colouring pencils and a postcard reproduction of Sorolla's painting 'Alberca del Alcazar de Sevilla' from the Museo Sorolla in Madrid. I used much of a whole harmonic pythagorean grid in the placement of the various objects, but most notably allowed the two pencils at far left and right to run in exact correlation with two of the major diagonals.

If you look closely here you can see those grid lines I mentioned above.
I'm looking forward to sharing this piece with you when it's completed, along with a group of other paintings I am currently working on.

- Richard

Above and image of Jusepe de Ribera's 'Martyrdom of Saint Philip', 1639.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Highlights and Influences

Just last week I arrived home after a trip to the cities of Madrid and Paris. I know, lucky me, catching the last of the Autumn sun! Myself and Boo spent five nights in each city.

The visit had many highlights including the Musee Rodin in Paris, a day spent at Fiac - the contemporary Art Fair on the Champs Elysees which has been running since 1974, and a first visit to Museo Sorolla in Madrid not to mention all the beers and tapas!

We had been in Madrid for a weeks adventure four years ago and visited the 'Golden Triangle' of Museums there - namely the Prado, Reina Sofia and the amazing Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art. But I had presumed that the Museo Sorolla was in Sorolla's home of Valencia when in fact it was in the center of the city of Madrid! This was a great opportunity to return again and spend a day at Sorolla's home and studio, which didn't disappoint! The Museum has a great collection of both Sorolla's landscape and figurative works - many of which offered me a rich insight into his processes.

The Prado was incredible as ever and there just happened to be a dedicated new wing to hold a special show of 'Velazquez and the Family of Philip IV'. But the real clincher for me on this trip was the work of Ribera and a close encounter with a Rembrandt portrait at the Thyssen.

Over the years I have held many 'favorite' artists, and have come to realize now that I have never abandoned any of these influences as I have grown - no influence becomes superseded but my appreciation just grows with time, expanding with knowledge and understanding.

The works of Ribera at the Prado really stood out for me this year, especially a grouping known as 'The Series of Apostles' and a captivating painting entitled 'Saint Paul the Hermit'. Standing at these paintings I frantically took notes and jotted down ideas and insights in my notebook.

Another real highlight was in the Thyssen this year, when I came face to face again with a wonderful and enigmatic Rembrandt self portrait. I stood in front of it for at least half an hour, just breathing it all in. I'd say Boo was about to kill me!

Below, a few of photos I took of a couple of the more memorable paintings I encountered.

Captivating garden scene, (which for me had echoes of  the work of 'the orientalists') from the Museo Sorolla Collection.

A detail from a light infused seascape at Museo Sorolla.

Detail from a Ribera.


Friday, November 1, 2013

SEPIL Commission 003 - The Big Wheel and Excellent Preparation

The Big Wheel - oil on oil primed linen canvas

There isn't just one way to tell a story, and every story has many different aspects to it, many different perspectives. The truth is often times a very complexed thing - not fixed but elusive, ephemeral as time moves on.

As I mentioned in my first Blog post on this project. The inspiration or genesis for this commission was the body of work created by Sean Keating around the development of the Ardnacrusha power plant. This 1920's hydro energy project became known as 'the Shannon Scheme'.

Sean had his way of illustrating a story, his personal preferences and background.
I have my way also. Unlike Keating, there will be little stylizing, but through the work I have found myself more interested in 'the raw mechanics of the thing'.

During the painting process thoughts come to me through the process of creation. These thoughts are often times reflections on the hidden symbolism which might exist in the work or scene captured.

Painting is transformative, and I feel reveals itself both intentionally and unintentionally.
Distilled through the nervous system of the artist and viewer pointing at some truth.

To get to a place like this where an intimate dialogue begins between the artist and the work of art, where ideas and philosophies which might underpin the work start to come to the foreground there has to be quite a bit of preparation and time working at the canvas.

The twelve or so paintings I am currently working on for this project have become a celebration of drawing, paint and surface quality. By using an array of various techniques throughout I feel I can better illustrate my concepts and ideas around this project.

Below, a detail from the painting above, as well as a couple of  images of my studio space to give you an insight into the type of preparation, research and raw materials I need to have ready in order to get 'the wheels in motion'.

I can say now without a shadow of a doubt that 'the big wheel is now rolling' on this project.

An image of my studio wall from a couple of months ago with my blank canvases at the ready.

Sean Keating used a gridding system with quite a number of his photographic references. I decided that rather than using the common grid I would study the 'armature of the rectangle', a classical system which dates back to Pythagoras' theories of harmonic divisions and compositions in music and art. I am now endeavoring to apply this knowledge to my paintings to help strengthen their foundational composition.

And a very neat and important invention - my portable palette!



Phone: + 353 (0)86 216 1135.