Friday, December 16, 2011

Joyous Merriosities to one and all!

I've just noticed I'm approaching 10,000 blog views. I generally pass no regards on such statistics, still, although that's over about 3 or 4 years, that seems like a lot to me. I feel I should do something to mark the occassion. Especially since I've been slow on the updates this last month or two. So after the whole Christmas excitement/stress dies down, expect some awesome giveaway competition thank you type action.

Until then, be joyful and merry and terribly grateful for that incredible brain of yours.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Markets and Girl Walk

Its been a while.

I'll be taking part in two Markets this weekend, one in Powerscourt on Saturday 10th and one in Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, on Sunday 11th. These will probably be my last outings before Christmas, so call in if you're interested in buying anything. Or if you just want a chat!

I've been watching Girl Walk a lot. I've a secret love of dance (not so secret for anyone who'e ever seen me bound wildly towards the dancefloor at a wedding...) This project has been continually making me smile;

Girl Walk // All Day: Chapter 2 from Girl Walk // All Day on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Flinders Work in Progress

Here's a few little work in progress pics from the Flinders album art. I'm quite enjoying the work, though I've been chopping and changing my mind about how to go about colouring the main image. But I painted a random section of it the other day, in which I decided was the right way to go. So after some unnecessarily messy cutting and sticking and gessoing I'm on course.

Doesn't look like much now but it'll look good by Monday. This bench will also be in there somewhere.

Woke up this morning with Chris Jordan's Midway birds in my head. So I did this.

Think I bought some fairtrade sugar in a plastic bag the day before. You just can't win...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hello November

This is a good time of the year. I always find nature especially interesting and beautiful in Winter. When you have to take a bit more time to notice whats living.

Had a market day over the weekend with Jauty Stuff in Powerscourt. It was good fun, if a little quiet. Was one of the most well organised markets I've done, in a great setting (which made the poor turnout especially disappointing). Have to say, I was well pleased with our joint display;

Listening to a lot of Son Lux and Zola Jesus lately. Son Lux, if you're into the likes of Why?, Dirty Projectors, the sort of terribly complex, technically accomplished music that borders on excessively pedantic, but with the craftsmanship and quality of production to get away with it. He's also a very friendly twitterer. Zola Jesus is more for your epic sweeping vocals and moody synths and beats. Conatus would easily be one of my favourite albums this year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Market This Saturday - Powerscourt Centre Dublin

I'll be selling work at the Last Weekend Market in Powerscourt Gallery this Saturday from 12 to 5pm. I'll Also be joined by Jauntystuff.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Splash Art Festival - 12th November

I'm taking part in the 2nd Splash Art Festival on the 12th and 13th of November. There are 27 artists and performers, with live music, photography, painting, design, wine, plus it's in the Back Loft, which, for me, is one of the most interesting exhibition spaces in Dublin. Its also run by Magda Nowacka, who is awesome.

I'll have a bunch of new work that, considering my hermitic nature, really ought to see the outside of my studio at least once this year. Here's one I finished yesterday. Considering the title of Frank the Lonely Brain-Eating Mushroom-Zombie...... He doesn't really eat brains....

I learned through helpful twittering that these days Emily is sporting a high chignon with a fringe. Handy to know for googling those reference pics.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pay For Play

I just had a realization. Since I started working as a freelance illustrator (about 3 years ago) I'm pretty sure I have earned more money working on album/E.P covers than I did in 10 years of  gigging with bands. For the record, I haven't done a whole lot of cover art and my first two jobs were paid for with a bonzai tree and tickets to Lykke Li. With the last band I was in, as far as I can remember our last ever gig we played together was also our first one we got paid for. I'm talking purely about a specific form of musical entertainment, live bands playing pubs, venues, festivals.

I stopped playing largely because of problems with my arms, RSI that still affects me today. But at the time, my main reason for quiting the band (who I loved playing with) was because I simply couldn't afford it. A case of, I could put up with one or the other, but with both it had become unenjoyable and unaffordable. It was a similar situation when I played with Bouts last year. I would imagine most people don't realise how expensive it is to work as a musician. And I do mean to use the word "work". There is the general thought that music is something of a hobby, you're doing something you love so money doesn't really matter. I would agree in some part with that. Music is something far more important than financial gain and should be shared as much as possible. It's something that I simply love, as a listener and performer. But ultimately it is still work. Work that requires much time and effort yet for some reason is more often than not unrewarded.

It's important that musicians and bands accept the struggle and toil it takes to develop and perfect their craft and I do think music should be shared freely. But unfortunately that's not always possible when the process of sharing requires money. For me, the onus is ultimately on the listener, the promoter, the venues, to value what it is they are listening to and value the people who are offering it.

I'm getting somewhat carried away, so I'll get on to the main point of this post.

Support Pay for Play, is a Facebook page started by Laura Sheeran to discuss the issue of venues charging bands to play, instead of paying them. In their own words;

"This group has been set up as a platform to discuss all the issues that bands and solos feel are making it difficult to move forward with their work, particularly in a live context.
Live is one of the only ways we can make any money these days and a lot of musicians are finding they are working to a constant loss when doing gigs.

...a place to talk about these things and potentially come up with some new ideas/solutions as to how we can improve the situations for ourselves."

Some interesting conversations on there already, worth checking out if you've any interest in the subject.

I came across this via the ever reliable Nay McArdle of Harmless Noise who, while we're talking of supporting music, could possibly be my favourite thing about Irish independent music today.

Thank you for listening. Now here's Bouts, from their awesome new E.P.;

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


These days I'm all about patterns. Particularly the kind found in or inspired by folk-based ornamental textiles. Such as this lovely work, which I believe is from Owen Jones's The Grammar of Ornament ;

via butdoesitfloat

I've never been great with that aspect of design, so it's always something I try to get my head around. But most of the time the focus of where I seek inspiration has some sort of purpose, linked in some way to what I'm working on. A lot of my drawings are based around my sometimes tree-limbed, sometimes bird-faced, sometimes plain old Emily character, and more so lately, I've been working on developing her story, which is all there floating around the nether regions of my head, but is simply a matter of translating into some sort of coherent shareable form (I'm not really known for my communication skills). But I am easily distracted by the details. Delayed. In one or two "stories" there is a house.

And lately I've been decorating the house (you know, in my head). In particular, I find I need to design the rug, a particular rug.

some pattern/design sketches
storyboard thumbs

watercolour in progress with aforementioned photoshopped rug

But the rug is also another story itself. As is the wallpaper and a long taspestry in the hall in the style of an old chinese watercolour. I'm terribly confused by the whole thing myself. Needless to say, it's a slow process.

Anyway, while we're talking about patterns, check out Denise Nestor's latest work. Work in progress, I believe, but it's still wonderful.

If you haven't come across her stuff before, check out her site. She's one of those people who makes drawing seem effortlessly beautiful.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


It's been a while since I've done a straight ink drawing from the Laboured Error series. Although most of my drawings are done with little planning, these are especially.... chaotic. But they are one of my favourite types of drawings. Just letting the pen go wherever it's going and ignoring any directive thought. But with lots of repetitive detail to get lost in. It sort of works as a meditation, and it's something I always fall back on when I'm not quite happy with where work is going. Emily found her way into this one. As, I believe, did this fellow;

Saturday, September 24, 2011

For the Music

Working on the cover art for Flinder's new album. I'd worked on his first album back in 2008, so was really touched he asked me to work on this one.

Flinders See, Saw Still cover art, 2008

I like the early phases in working on album artwork, just listening to the music and getting ideas and images. Which Flinders work is great for. Lyrically his songs are nice mix of the personal and the political with enough room to find your own meaning in it. Anywho, more info on that over the next while.

Can't wait till Niamh de Barra releases her awesome album. Its sooooo good. Was super chuffed to get working on it, and I really want other people to hear it. Thats the other thing I like about being involved in the production an album you're a fan of. You're already familiar with it by the time it's released and get to see how other people take it. Its like when your friend discovers that band you love and you can start sharing all your albums with them.

There's something of an intimacy in working on album artwork. This thing that someone's put their time and effort and feeling into over the course of several weeks or months or years and then they ask you to help them present it to the world. It's always my favourite type of commission, as you generally get a lot of free reign to do what you want. The directions are usually more to do with feeling and mood. Mostly just listen to the music and see what comes out. Which is generally how I draw anyway. Music has always had a lot more of an influence on my work than visual art. Painting and illustration will always inspire new techniques and styles but music has a much more visceral, immediate effect on creativity. Its rare I don't have music playing while drawing. 

These days I'm listening to Rachel's - Music for Egon Schiele, Sufjan Steven - Illinoise and Xela - Tangled Wool. I look forward to a future where I can buy new albums. Oh, and there is the ever reliable Newnoise. Particularly good show this week.

What's that? PJ20 was awesome? Yes it was.

In unrelated news, from a letter to a friend. An ode to fungi;

P.S. I miss Green Lights...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Love these paintings by Hikari Shimoda. Her work is quite disturbingly beautiful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Past the sketch

I've got a bunch of uncolored drawings piling up at the minute. I tend to work in one specific medium at a time. My brain doesn't really multi task artisically. Occassionally I'll start a picture and just paint it right through. But usually I'll just work on drawings and keep starting new drawings, ignoring the painting side of things as long as I can. Not that this is a concious effort to organise my studio time or anything. It's purely because drawing, the ideas part, the inception of an image, comes a lot easier to me than the finishing. Or that middle period at least; setting down the principle colours of a picture. The details, I'm fine with, and even manipulating the paint on a page I enjoy, but it's just that point where you have to make a choice. You've got this nice sketch that you're happy with and then you have to figure out where its going to go, in the hope that whatever rendering you do adds to the image instead of ruining it. Especially so with watercolours. Generally you have one go. I'd usually have a practice area before applying paint, but i find watercolours will always behave differently every time you use them. Which is also why i like them. You end up with colours and textures you hadn't even planned.

Anyway, I've about a dozen drawings in varying levels of finishment piling up on the desk (not including the 10 or 20 canvas and wood paintings stacking up that I'm completely ignoring). Here's a few watercolours in progress.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Read Everything

Here's a painting I finished recently. I let it go before I thought to take proper photos of it and measure it. But it's about 45cm x 65cm, acrylic on wood.

Since we're on the theme of books, I like the idea of this site - (via ).

I just started Malalai Joya's A Woman Among Warlords. I've long been an admirer of her activism. Her story's quite inspirational. Personally, I'm a terrible reader. Annoyingly slow and I instantly forget the details. Library fines build up without having read half of what I return. But if there's anything I'm happy to collect and that I allow waver my wood-saving principles its in the collection and appreciation of books. And there are few things that warm me towards a person than looking through their book collection. There's something incredibly hopeful about books. Ideas and thoughts without the distractions of technology or the psychology of social interaction.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lanterns, pinwheels and a Winter morning in England

Later this year will see the joyful occasion of my brother's marraige to his lovely fiance on what I predict to be a beautiful winter's morning. I was happily asked to provide some wedding invite artwork. We used Rusticus paper from Daintree to print on, and being like-mindedly environmentally concious, they opted for a small A5 format and emailed RSVP. 

The original image is an acrylic painting on wood, with added details painted in watercolour.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Prints for Mayfly

I've got some prints in Mayfly's new shop in Temple Bar, Dublin. The new location is on the ground floor of the Cafe Irie building, just off Temple Bar Square and worth checking out, lots of funky stuff in there. The prints are 14cm x 21cm (approx. A5) on lightly textured Daintree paper with images from a selection of recent watercolours. I've only a handful in at the mo, working on getting more for them.

Packaging is always a bit of a pain to come by. Regular readers hear me complain enough about disposable plastics, so I'll not go into it, but lets just say I'm not too keen on being a source of plastic waste. However, one must ensure one's work is presentable and protected from the elements. Usually I'd just use secondhand plastic pockets (they pop up every now and then in charity shops in folders and binders) I haven't come across any in a while though, so for these prints I had to make up my own.

I've used plastic covers from old photo albums, and reclaimed waste card from a framers. I cut the plastic sheet to shape, form an envelope and stick with double sided tape. I tried glues, but the tapes much neater. And I'm no fan of glue anyway. The card provides support.

When I've a larger supply (making the envelopes is a little time consuming), I'll put some up on Etsy for sale.
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