Latest from the art class. One is of a walk around the river in Sion Mills and the other is Bundoran beach looking towards Roughey in Co Donegal.
I was trying to get my painting muscles going again as I haven't painted anything in months and tried my hand at this still life. It looks much larger in the photo but it is only A4. I also wanted to share another passage from Mervyn Levy's book, which I felt was pertinent -
Humanity is notoriously indolent and to effect change, inevitably requires effort, such effort as only the relatively few enlightened ones are prepared to make: at least initially. Enlightenment in itself is not the prerogative of the few: it is the lodestar which all may follow who are prepared to practise the arts of criticism and analysis. Every convention should be periodically subjected to the most searching scrutiny and when it is found wanting, it should be jettisoned. Yet...few people are willing to effect change, or even to question the nature or the validity of the existing status quo. Until the reader has purged his mind of existing prejudices and preconceptions, until he has liberated his intellect from the chains of those constricting thought patterns that precondition and so limit...the possibilities of (in this case) painting.
At present, how many of us enter adulthood equipped to think, to feel, or even to see creatively. We live by proxy, taking on trust conception and ideologies, systems of thought and of action, in whatever the field, that are founded, not upon our own unique experiences but upon those that come to us at least second-hand.
'We have ceased even to make our own pleasures in the context of the family circle, preferring to squat in the sty of contentment, luxuriously appointed with every soul-killing device - for that is what the modern ‘civilized’ home has become – while the mind slips cosily into the slime of ‘entertainment’, softening and crumbling beneath the dead caresses of radio and television, until we are left with a nation of cows at gates staring with blank eyes into nothing.-
Rather prescient, I think.
You see, this is what happens when you don't get your art class, you have to get out and create something and when you have a political conscience as demanding as mine, then what else is a girl to do?? This is across from the local Sinn Fascist office who along with the SDLP took to the local paper to condemn 'vigilante conspiracy theorists' as you can see from the article below. Well, it might not be Banksy but it makes a point.
A few of the highlights from the article read: 'Vigilante conspiracy theorists need to catch themselves on after anti-face mask graffiti was daubed on at least two locations in Strabane this week. The graffiti which appeared at the Bridgend and also on the river wall has also been described as 'mindless vandalism'.
One of the slogans reads, 'No new normal. #nomask tyranny #KBF. It is understood that the term KBF or 'Keep Britain Free' has been used by people protesting against Covid 19 restrictions.
SDLP councillor Steven Edwards condemned the graffiti. 'Not only does this graffiti vandalise public property but it also spreads 'fake news' around the wearing of masks...the vigilante conspiracy theorists need to catch themselves on and realise the damage they are causing to Strabane town.
Party colleague Daniel McCrossan added, 'Whoever did this - wise up. Protest if you like but don't blight our town. Strabane Sinn Fein also condemned the graffiti ' We have asked the council to remove this eyesore from outside our office. We are deeply disappointed that whoever decided to do this in the dark of the night also vandalised our poster thanking NHS and key workers.'
Daniel McCrossan also mentioned their 'moral duty' to protect others. The bottom picture in case you can't see it clearly, says 1939 with a yellow star painted next to it and 2020 with a mask. This was painted on the back of one of those propaganda covid 19 boards telling us to stay apart, wash your hands blah, blah, blah, and I painted a nice big swastika on the front of it so they couldn't put it up again. I was going to to the same to the Sinn Fein board they had put up about clapping for the NHS but my paint ran out and as a key worker myself I find it patronising and puerile as do many of my colleagues.
Following from yesterday, I was trying to think what to do for Lent. Much has changed for me in the last year, not so much a visible external change but more internal and I'm probably in the best place I've ever been in my life. So much so that I decided I would go back and finish the last year of study to bump my degree up to honours. Unfortunately, the course I want to do doesn't start until October so I've a bit of time to work up to it. I'm going to do A326 Empire - 1492 to 1975. I've ordered a couple of the recommended books to read prior to starting and registration doesn't open until next month.
The blog has been a bit neglected too recently. I had a bit of a, I wouldn't say crisis, but it was a sort of personal concern. There is a lot of noise in the world today, and a lot of 'noise' online (and most of it meaningless too) and I questioned if there was any point in carrying on with it. Does anything I say matter, have I convinced anyone to re-consider their thoughts on Brexit or helped to assuage their fears over 'global warming' or to even question what they believe and why? Maybe, maybe not (but then again old number one fan might miss me if I stopped but then again, maybe not...).
However, I do like to write, well, like, is not necessarily the right word either because sometimes it's a pain, but it's more that I feel compelled to write. When I don't for a while, that still small voice from within starts to irritate and won't quieten until I've done something to shut it up. So, I decided for Lent, I would try and write something on the blog every day, more to create a writing habit than anything else but I have a couple of bigger projects in mind and I feel this is what I need to do, to get them going.
I also decided that instead of lying brain dead in front of the telly most nights, I would try and expand my learning and do a bit more reading and studying. My Tuesday night art class has been suspended for a while but my Thursday night class is still going which works out well as me, and one of the girls from work, play badminton on a Tuesday and it was a bit of a rush to get back home for the art class afterwards.
By the way, one of the men from the Thursday art group has an exhibition of his work showing in the Garden of Remembrance Gallery at Bishop Street in Derry. His name is Dermot Anderson and he specialises in portraits. If you're in the area, pop in for a look. We were all down for the opening on Valentines night and a couple of people from the Letterkenny acting group happened to come in and we got chatting about a few possible projects we would like to try so maybe I'll be getting back on stage again too. Busy times!!!
This is a view of Doneyloop church at sunset. Doneyloop is a small village just over the border in Donegal from Clady.
The Glebe Gallery, outside Letterkenny was running free art sessions over the summer, these are 2 from the outdoor painting sessions that I took part in. One is oil on canvas and the other is oil on board.
This is the latest from my art class, I'm quite pleased with this one. The sluice gate was broken and the water was pouring out of it which added to the drama, plus it was a beautiful warm sunny day.
I was feeling creative tonight, well it beats doing the ironing! Just a little practice landscape to keep the creative juices flowing over the summer, although I'm beginning to think that is just a rumour! We've had 2 months of cold and wet in May and June, then 2 warm days and now it's wet again but slightly warmer!
This is the latest from the art class. I forgot to bring a canvas last night so borrowed a small one and did this. It's from a photo I took from the top of an Grianan Aligh at Burt in Donegal. What makes it memorable for me is this is the day I took the pain in my side which ended up becoming an inflamed gallbladder. This is looking towards Inch Island and Faughan (pronounce fawn).
I had another painting finished but it is away getting framed as the art teacher wants me to try and see if it will be accepted into an Open Art Competition which is on in the Glebe Gallery in Churchill which isn't too far from Letterkenny. I don't really expect to win but it's good experience. This is oil on canvas (A4) and took all of 90 mins or thereabouts.
I had a lovely weekend away in England, I went over to visit my sister and we managed to squeeze in a trip to London on Saturday. There were a couple of exhibitions on in the Tate Modern that I wanted to see, Pierre Bonnard's, The Colour of Memory and Magic Realism, Art in Weimar Germany 1919 - 1933. We didn't manage to get into the Pierre Bonnard exhibition as we had walked up the 3rd floor, only to be told, we had to go back down to the entrance and buy a ticket and the gallery itself was very busy, so we just did the Magic Realism instead and had a look around some of the other exhibits. It was ok, but like a lot of art movements, they haven't travelled very well. They are of a place and time in art and some of them were quite cartoonish and overall, I only liked one or two of the pieces.
Picasso's Weeping Women was also on display in the gallery. It is quite a gaudy painting but what made it worse was the ugly frame which did it no favours at all. I found this with a lot of the paintings in the National Gallery in Ireland too, so many were let down by clunky, overly ornate frames which detracted from the art. i prefer my art, for the most part, in plain white frames. In relation to the rest of the 'art' we looked at, I have to say there is a lot of brock masquerading as art. As my sister remarked, a lot of it looked like A-level art projects and left her cold. I had to agree, Modern Art is very subjective and to be honest a lot of it really doesn't appeal to me, I'm conservative in my tastes and while I recognise that sometimes art can express the social and political, it has to be done well in order not to appear pretentious or ridiculous.
So, we headed for the National Portrait Gallery which has an exhibit on at the moment; Elizabethan Treasures, Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver. I loved this one; the detail was fantastic and took real skill and a very steady hand. I would definitely recommend you go see them, if you can, the exhibition is on until the 19th May. We also had a look around the portraits: there was our own Seamus Heaney and a large one of Judy Dench. We weren't very impressed by the Judy Dench portrait, she looked like a doctor and all the character was missing from her face. I did love the portraits of Ken Dodd and Stanley Spencer. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to take in as much as we wanted but I have to go back over in the summer for the Van Gogh in Britain exhibition so we hope to get back to the NPG as well.
I managed to rattle through Mark Blake's, Is This the Real Life, a biography of Queen while travelling. I thoroughly enjoyed this as it details the fact from the fiction of biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. Highly recommended!
For Paddy's Day, the cousins and their children came around and we had some great food and a few drinks and a good time was had by all! All in all, a wonderful weekend and made even better in that I'm not back to work until Friday! Yayyy!
Latest from my art class. This is another practice piece and a copy. I wanted to try horses again and I find I'm moving more and more towards oils. A bit more impressionistic this time which is the great thing about oils, they're a much more pliable medium to work with.
This is another from art class, acrylic on canvas. I was coming home from the allotment one evening in the summer and there was a spectacular sunset (we get some great sunsets here) so I took a picture of it and thought it would be nice to paint. This is it, this view is looking towards Lifford in Donegal,
This is the latest from my art class. I was up around the river in Sion earlier in the year and one of the sluice gates was broken. I thought it would be a great image to paint.
Latest from my art class, not an original piece but a copy of another work but I loved the colours and it got the painting muscles going again.
This one is an acrylic pour (no title) I did this at home after watching some demos on YouTube. I'm quite happy with how it turned out and plan to try a few more. Hope you like it.
Another one from the art class, just a practice copy, oil on canvas.
I missed out on several art classes this last year as it clashed with my typing class so I've been playing catch up and trying a few copies just to get back into it. This is my version of the wonderful Vincent Van Gogh's Wheat field with crows. It has taken me a while to get the technique right but I'm going to tackle The Starry Night next, just for myself as it's my favourite painting.
Finally got the painting to upload, just saved it as a smaller file. This is my latest although the colours look a bit paler looking at it here. Anyway, back to art class tomorrow, and another 'masterpiece'.
I just finished watching a great show on BBC4 about Russian art from the revolutionary period. It featured many of the artists that were part of the exhibition, I went to see back in April, in the Royal Academy.
It was very good, both the exhibition and the show. Sadly, many of them suffered and died, or were forced into exile during Stalin's reign of terror. However, their art is now being re-discovered and it proves something that I've come to believe. No matter how many wars, warmongers and dictators that strut their way through history or how much destruction they cause; in time, it is the work of the artists and artisans that survives and outlives them all.
Warmongers leave little of value and sadly, we still don't seem to have learned from all the lessons of history, that there are no winners in war.
I recently submitted a painting to a local art exhibition. I usually work with a lot of colour but for a change, I tried something more stripped back. The painting is called 'After the Fall', and is of a tree silhouetted against a pale background. (If I ever get a smart phone, I'll post a picture of it) Someone in my art class suggested adding some fallen leaves but I decided not to, as I wanted the focus to be on the tree alone.
The painting works on 2 levels. It can be taken literally; a tree after the leaves have fallen off in autumn, but when I painted it, I was thinking about the Genesis story of the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil' that stood in the Garden of Eden. So, my painting is a representation of this.
The Genesis story has been taken as a literal truth by the Christian church and used for centuries to malign women and justify our treatment as second class humans. In case anyone doesn't know, it was us temptresses and evil-doers who got the poor men kicked out of paradise because poor dumb Adam couldn't say no (of course) when Eve tempted him with the fruit. An insult to both men and women.
However, this interpretation has always bothered me, not least for the reasons already stated but when you look at it from a metaphorical point of view, you come to see that this story is about consciousness and that 'religion' has misinterpreted it.
When Adam and Eve eat the 'fruit', they become conscious of themselves and the world, as they now possess the knowledge of good and evil too. They no longer need anyone to tell them how to act or think; with consciousness, they can now think and decide for themselves how they are going to act. They have grown up and are no longer children who have to be told what to do. They have become adults.
This story is telling us about our evolution as human beings and how we grow up (in theory) and learn to think and act for ourselves by using our knowledge, our conscience and applying it to our actions and beliefs. Once we have become conscious, we cannot 'unsee' reality and go back to the pre-conscious state represented by Eden which is why we are barred from ‘paradise’ forever.
So, how do we become conscious?
In order to grow up or become conscious, we have to challenge the things we believe in or believe about ourselves. For example, do you believe in God and why, or why not?
So, the tree in my painting is a representation of this. It is asking the question, who am I when stripped of the delusions of ego, religion, nationality, culture and materialism. Do my actions match the beliefs I have about myself as a human being or am I deluding or lying to myself.
Didn't make it to OMD, it was just too long a day and all I wanted was to get home. I did make it to HMV and picked up a couple of DVD'S which I look forward to watching at the weekend. I was on my way back when I had a text message from work saying they needed the banner for today. We're doing a presentation on Friday and because I do art, I got the job of making the banner. So, I made it at my art class last night, and they were all very happy with it.
Talking about art, I was at the opening of a local exhibition tonight, No Jury, No Prize. Apparently, this began in London a few years back but it was in the Alley tonight so I went down for an hour as I submitted a painting for it. Unexpectedly, my cousin Paul also had a piece of sculpture in the show and was with a friend of his who was also exhibiting a painting. There was a broad mix of styles from both amateurs and professionals. I'm technically a professional, because I have sold paintings but really I'm an amateur. I'll consider myself professional when I can earn a living doing it which will probably be never!
I'm sitting here and I saw this show advertised for BBC 4 called, Retreat: Meditations from a monastery (supposed to be writing my assignment and the stress is kicking in!) . Before it started, they showed a little film of a sunset by the sea with the water ebbing and flowing, and very restful it was too. If only we could have these instead of bloody ads all the time. Anyway, it's about a group of monks in a monastery and how they live, making their own clothes and growing their food.
There certainly is a great appeal in the simplicity of the communal aesthetic lifestyle. I remember a few years ago, there were several programmes on about the Amish community and I have to say, I found their lifestyle very appealing. I loved all the craftwork and cooking and baking and gardening, because I do all that too. I just don't get to do enough of it as the rat race demands my services and unfortunately, I don't have the means to escape, yet! Well, I can always dream...
The only downside was the religion, and I've often wondered how you could have that way of living; in a community and everyone working together to help each other out but without all the dogma and rules of religion. If I ever get enough money to buy a large piece of land, I'm definitely going to try that one out, build my own community - Free the wage enslaved!
I believe in time, we will have to seriously look at alternative lifestyles and eventually move towards a world without money. The whole capitalist thing just isn't working and isn't sustainable in the long term so we're going to have to try something else. If you think about it, imagine if you could have access to everything you needed and didn't have to work to earn money to buy it. All the stress of life disappears. The fear of 'not having' is what scares everyone, me included!
There are a few movements around who are advocating this idea which I found online but most are in the early stages of development. One of the most organised is called the Ubuntu Movement, and they have set up the first 'town without money' in South America. You're only obliged to contribute 3 hours of work to the community and the rest of the time is your own, sounds good to me! That's as much as I know about it as I haven't had the time, (the ongoing dilemma!) to check it out in more detail at the moment. A blog for another day...
Oh well, back to the assignment!
When I was young, I used to get the Once Upon a Time comic and, as the name suggests, it was full of fairy tales and stories about the usual subjects, princesses being saved by princes, tales from the Arabian Nights and as far as memory serves, it was also where I first encountered tales of Brer Rabbit. It was the highlight of my week and I loved it as much for some of the colourful artwork as the stories. I was always drawing and colouring-in as a child and I even had a painting exhibited locally when I was in P2. There was an exhibition of local art and somehow I was nominated to paint a picture for my class/school, I'm not entirely sure which. Anyway, I got the afternoon off lessons to paint a picture of a hen. I don't remember if I made that choice or if that is what I was told to draw.
A few years ago, I took up art again and, I have to say, I love it more now than ever and I try and get to exhibitions and galleries as much as I possibly can. I even sold a painting when I first showed some of them at a craft fair. This actually happened by accident as we thought the paintings were being used to decorate the room but they were put on a stall instead.
I was in Dublin on Saturday to meet a friend so I headed down early so I could spend some time in the National Gallery and came home with a pair of 'Starry Night' socks! There was a Vermeer exhibition on but it was booked out so I couldn't get to see it but I still enjoyed a roam around the gallery. Then last night, I spent an hour on Facebook watching video presentations on Van Gogh's Sunflowers, from art galleries around the world. Van Gogh would probably be my favourite artist and I do like his work in general but Starry Night would be my favourite painting, hence the socks.
A friend of mine recently shared a video of Jim Carrey, the actor, talking about art and discussing how creating art had helped to heal him after a particularly heart-breaking time. Jim isn't the first to find healing in art and creativity and I have to say, I too, find it very therapeutic.
In the video, Jim talks about how he was sitting in a 'grey New York' and felt the need to bring some colour in to his life. A sentiment I understand, more so considering the state of the world at the moment. While I am political in my outlook, when it comes to art, I leave the politics aside and take the aesthetic road. I don't want to create political statements with my artwork, I want to create something of beauty to transcend those miserable and grey days of life. On this one, I'll leave the politics to Banksy.
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