|The Lady of Shalott (26 x 21 cms) Watercolour and Gouache|
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
|Twilight - Homage to Sargent's "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose"|
On show at the 140th Anniversary Exhibition of the
Dublin Painting and Sketching Club in the Concourse Gallery,
County Hall Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
31th March to 13th April 2014
“Twilight” Homage to John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” 1885-86
In a letter dated 10th September 1885 to his colleague, Edwin Russell, Sargent wrote,
“I am trying to paint a charming thing I saw the other evening. Two little girls in a garden at dark, lighting paper lanterns hung among the flowers from rose-tree to rose-tree. I shall be a long time about it if I don’t give up in despair, and at any rate two months longer in England”.
Indeed, it took Sargent nearly two years before “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” was finished due to the limited window of twilight time that was available to him in the garden of a friend’s house in Broadway, Worcestershire, England. The finished piece measures 7 x 5 feet, painted entirely en plein air. Here Sargent captures the soft light and faery-like atmosphere of his two young models, Dolly and ‘Polly’ Barnard in the Impressionist style.
I’ve always loved this painting because of the magical quality it evokes, especially in the muted colour scheme of soft mauves and oranges. In painting “Twilight”, my homage to Sargent, I was concerned with trying to capture the nostalgia of the past; of my own childhood memories of playing out in the twilight of the long summer evenings; of the memories of my daughters, Jennie and Annie when they were that age; and of old photos I have of my grandmother wearing a similar white pinafore to the girls in Sargent’s painting.
As I couldn’t reconstruct my scene to paint it en plein air as Sargent had done, I resolved to set the scene as a still life, including the predominant flowers of lilies and roses, my grandmother’s old china tea cup and a ‘reproduction’ of the painting propped up in the arrangement, depicting images of my own children.
The cameo of Sargent’s masterpiece is painted in a loose watercolour style, to suggest a sketch, hastily done, of a fleeting moment in time. The romantic and luxuriant depictions of flowers in the still life are interspersed with torn pieces from Sargent’s many letters and painting notes. I wanted to create an ‘old fashioned’ atmosphere, cluttered with sentimental ornaments, imagining the heady scent of the profusion of flowers in Sargent’s painting. To counter balance the old, I set some collaged photos of roses into the scene, (printed on mulberry tissue paper) which gives a translucent layered effect to the watercolour. The modern touch this adds to the painting, hints at the present day while the main atmosphere reflects the past and the passing of time.
|"Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" John Singer Sargent 1885-86|
|Working sketch for the Cameo inset of Sargent's painting.|
|Forget-Me-Not 19 x 15 inches Watercolour and Collage|
|Matrioshka 19 x 15 inches Mixed Media|
|detail from Forget-Me-Not|
I will be posting images of the different stages these paintings went through before completion at a later date on this blog.
|A Selection of 4 x 4 inch watercolours with hand-painted collage|
The UWA 56th Annual Exhibition will be on show in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, from 8th to 29th November 2013
Opening Hours - Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
I will be exhibiting two pieces in this year's show. Both paintings are Joycean-themed works; one entitled "Mememormee" from Finnegans Wake, which incorporates Joyce's death mask as part of a seascape; the other "Her Breasts All Perfume", in which I depict Molly Bloom as Earth Goddess. Both paintings are done in Watercolour with hand-painted paper and lace paper collage.
|"Mememormee" - Finnegans Wake 16 x 20 "|
“Mememormee” Finnegans Wake
I am not a scholar of Joyce. But from what I have read I can say that his genius is remarkable. When working on some pieces for an exhibition on Joycean-themed images I started to explore the writings of Joyce from a different viewpoint. I wondered what it must have been like to be in his head with so many overlapping ideas, words, and imagery. It seemed to me that Joyce wanted to encompass more than just mere words in his writing. His invented language for Finnegans Wake comes alive when it is read aloud and on hearing this, I started to “see” images in the sounds.
“Mememormee”, is a painting that started with a portrait done from Joyce’s death mask. While working on it I became aware that I was entering an other worldness. While I painted I heard repeatedly the words, in memorium, in memorium... The Word, Mememormee, taken from the last passage of Finnegans Wake where Annalivia Plurabelle is dying, suited the sounds that I was intuitively hearing, so this became the title of the painting.
While working abstractly I often reach a place in the painting where I have to ‘listen’ to the painting in order to know what happens next. It cannot be worked through as an intellectual process, rather an intuitive one. As I painted, night-time images and sounds of the sea entered my mind in waves and I stared to see an imaginary seascape at night of the view from the back of Joyce’s Tower. However, the physical image of the Tower is not present in the painting. I felt it didn’t need to be there as Joyce’s craggy profile embodied the spirit of the Tower. The waves from the sea wash over his memory, crashing and lashing against the visionary words contained in Finnegans Wake.
As a visual artist, I felt the need to physically reunite the last and first sentences of the book in a patchwork of torn collage amidst the splintered shoreline of the coast, which contains the memories of my youth, as well as being the setting for many of Joyce’s works.
|"Her Breasts All Perfume" Molly Bloom 20 x 16 "|
“Her Breast’s All Perfume” Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy from Ulysses
What can I say about the inspiration for this piece? Yes! I love it and have used Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses many times in my work. Her words appear as torn scraps of exclamations amidst many of my highly decorative and textured flower paintings. However, this is the first time that I have combined these words as collage with one of my nudes.
As a lover of colours and Klimt, I gave this painting my “all” in terms of gesture and adornment. The sensuality of Molly’s prose equalled my passion for painting it, and I really went to town on the overt nature of this piece of writing from Joyce. While sketching some of the preliminary work, I experimented with using different colours and styles for the setting. Molly’s thoughts flit like butterflies on the breeze and I thought it would be fun to produce a series of sketches on the different ‘moods’ of Molly. “...Shall I wear a red Yes...” expresses a whimsical side to this Earth Goddess (as seen in the small sketch). Whereas the excerpt “...and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume...” reveal the power of womanhood at its best.
|"...Or Shall I Wear a Red...Yes..."|
|The Wild Swans of Coole- Mysterious, Beautiful|
I'm taking some time out this summer to work on the signs of the Zodiac, a project that I started many years ago in my teens. I started with Pisces as it's my own sign, and will work on Aquarius next. The original is 12 inches squared and painted with watercolour, with silver pen, silk outliner pen and collaged with painted papers which I made on white tissue paper. Here are some close-ups of the design.
The background was created with a mottled watercolour wash and sponged with white gouache.
Over the initial watercolour wash I spattered paint, gold ink, gold collage paper and silk outliner pen.
A close up of the fishes
The tail showing the 'dots' of paint made by the silk outliner pen (normally used for silk painting)
|"...Her Breasts All Perfume..." Molly Bloom from Ulysses"|
Two Exhibitions to celebrate James Joyce and Bloomsday
"Walking Into Eternity"
at the MAGPIE INN, Dalkey June 7th to 21st 12pm to 8pm
at DALKEY ART SPACE, 30 Dalkey Park, June 8th to 22nd
Thursday to Sunday 11am to 5pm
|"Mememormee" Finnegans Wake|
|"Joyce - Man of Letters"|
|Sun Goddess, Watercolour and Collage 15 x 19 inches|
|Detail from Sun Goddess|
|My working box of pastels|
|My make-shift colour chart|
|The finished portrait in Pastel|
|"I Love Flowers" 20 x 16 Watercolour and Collage with the words of Molly Bloom.|
|"Two Most Precious Things"|
I was especially honoured to receive the President's Award for my painting "Two Most Precious Things" which was inspired by the story of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.
The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and will run until the 27th October 2012.
For more information visit www.uswa.co.uk