2021 has started more with a whimper than a bang. I’ve been laid low and in some considerable pain. I am thankful for antibiotics which are taking the edge off the pain and (I hope) turning the curve on the infection. But it’s thrown a spanner into the works in terms of making progress with painting. Finally this week I’ve had enough energy to go up to the studio to put the finishing touches on my newest painting “The Kelpies”.
If you’ve seen any of my recent polar bear paintings you’ll know that I’ve been loving painting light filtering through underwater. I wanted to try to capture it through a seakelp forest.
I remember standing mesmerised and swaying whilst watching seakelp drift back and forth in @2oceansaquarium in Capetown years ago – I’ve been a fan ever since and love how it catches days of light with such a range of colour tones from dark brown to ochre to acid greens.
Separately I’ve been reading about #celtic #kelpies – proper horror stories – beautiful but deadly #shapeshifters that usually take the form of horses – sometimes beautiful women – to lure you into the deep. This is absolutely the dark side of celtic mythology and truly haunting. You can read more about the tales here
I always love new year’s day (much more than new year’s eve) – so full of promise and potential, though for the most part, we need to create these for ourselves.
It’s a beautiful day here in NI. We’re still under a pretty restrictive lockdown, but i think most of us feel hopeful about what 2021 can bring.
So far today I’ve taken down my Christmas tree and put it in the garden where it will hopefully grow.
I’m planning to reclaim my attic (where i have my studio) from the cardboard box graveyard that it has become. And then I’m going to get stuck into my new painting.
I started it yesterday though I’ve been thinking about it for months.
I love painting water and recently been focusing on how light filters through underwater. I’ve been thinking about forests of sea kelp. And that started me thinking about kelpies- the Scottish water horses that lure their victims down to the deep. So my latest painting, The Kelpies, is a departure for me from purely literal realism to toy with other themes and genres.
I’m finding it challenging, with lots more detail and development to come. And I’m not sure that it will go where i want it to. But let’s step bravely into new styles, approaches, perspectives and experiences as we step into 2021.
Tonight i finished a painting. I like the back story to this one – I had donated a painting of a bluetit with cherry blossom as a prize in a lockdown charity zoom quiz.
By a strange quirk the quiz master won the painting, but then i felt bad ‘cos he didn’t seem a bluetit and cherry blossom kind of guy , and y’know, wherever my paintings end up, I want them to be a good match. So instead i offered to paint whatever else they wanted and they chose this – the KEA – a bird I hadn’t heard of till a few weeks ago.
I love the blurry out of focus of the background and wingtips to suggest movement contrasted with the sharp focus of the head and that flash of scarlet.
Have just finished a mammoth session at the easel and though I’ll check it again in daylight, for tonight I’m calling time on this one.
So one painting ends and another begins. I’ve got 3 commissions left before Christmas and then I have big plans for a big self-indulgent painting project in the new year…. I’m excited and daunted. And you’re just going to have to watch this space.
A few weeks ago I posted about the turn of the seasons. Our latest lockdown (still in place) had just started, with restrictions on socialising indoors as well as the closure of cafés and bars. Compounding this was the looming end of British summertime, when the clocks fall back by an hour, ushering in long dark Northern wintry nights. I usually dread this time of year and mourne the long days of summer.
This year has been different. My dog and I have been celebrating the gorgeous deserted wintry beaches of Northern Ireland.
Faced with the end of the summer we jumped in the car and headed to our nearest nice beach – Ballyholme, in Bangor, Northern Ireland – and chased frisbees and sea birds while the daylight started to fade till it was just a strip of silver reflected on the wet sand along with the distant streetlights from across Belfast Lough.
The summer has definitely ended and become a memory, but for once I’m embracing the beauty of the approaching winter and enjoying impromptu outdoors car-boot picnics with friends, warming ourselves up with hot soup after chilly beach walks.
I’ve been inspired to capture that evening in a new painting “Turn of the Seasons” (you can see it the start of this post). It’s been a joy to work on and I’ve been excited to watch it come together.
I’ve just put the finishing touches to the painting this morning and I’m stepping away from the easel with a lovely sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing something that I’m proud of, that captures the fleeting beauty of a cold wintry beach in lockdown and (I hope) the peace and gratitude and wonder that I experienced being on it.
I hope you enjoy. I’ll be adding it to my portfolio and i plan to get some limited edition prints, so do get in touch if you’re interested in one.
The VIRTUAL PANDEMIC EXHIBITION of 2020 by the Pastel Society of Ireland.
It’s been a challenging year. Across the whole world we are agreed on that. Its been full of tears and fears and loss and loneliness. But it’s also shown us unexpected joys and love and new friendships and hopes.
Throughout it all creativity has been a godsend to many – a release; an escape; a strength – whether through gardening, poetry, DIY or (as with us) pastel art.
Now I know you’ve all been looking forward to the exhibition of 2020 with baited breath:
And with good reason because I’ve seen some of the work and it is exquisite.
But like they say, the best things in life are worth waiting for and so the exhibition is going to be fashionably late, with a new start date of 12 November. There will be daily featured artists from 16 November and the exhibition closes, with me as the featured artist on 7 December.
It brings together a diverse collection of art to mark what has been such a challenging year for everyone. Throughout 2020, in the face of the physical threats posed by COVID-19 and the hardships and challenges of lockdown, one factor that has become obvious across the world has been the importance of creativity to our sense of wellbeing – be that through gardening, home improvements, craft, or – in our case – pastel painting.
Whilst we have been unable to host what would have been our 31st Annual Exhibition, instead we are able to invite people into the socially distanced world of our Virtual , Pandemic Exhibition 2020 – a collection of 54 works from 24 of our members, from across the whole of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The artists participating in the exhibition have breathed new life into the centuries-old medium of pastels, producing a diverse range of fresh, innovative and at times challenging works.
The themes covered are familiar and relevant to all of us in these unique times and touch on the importance (or absence) of family, community, love, nature, the environment, the temporal and the permanent – all of the things that connect us, even while the need for social distancing and ongoing lockdown restrictions keep us apart.
All of the artists who have contributed to the exhibition are members of the Pastel Society of Ireland, which brings together pastel artists from across the whole of the island of Ireland to promote the use of this medium.