Friday, March 20, 2015
For this weeks theme of producing an image using limited strokes/marks/line/tone I have done this little sketch. It is a mixture of continuous line and limited mark making done rapidly and trying to be economical with technique. It was done with a thick graphite crayon. Hopefully you can tell what the sketch is of!
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Thanks to Richard for coming up with the theme for this week. I just completed this half an hour ago. It's a sunset from the front of my house. I broke the 15 to 20 brush stroke rule, but stuck to 5 minutes. It was a good subject cos you only get 5 minutes anyway to capture it before it changes. Got a little dazzled at first but by the time I was finished with the trees on the horizon, the sun had dimmed to a deep red. Photo of it didn't pick up highlights I'd put on the clouds immediately around the sun. It's not even half good, but still I enjoyed the experience and it's my first plein air work in 2015.
Friday, March 6, 2015
Lately I have been focusing my daily practice on improving my tones for painting and seeing things as shapes that interrelate and so on and I won't lie, it's almost always women in various states of undress because... I like drawing and painting women in various states of undress :D
By the way anyone interested on learning more on painting tones and so on I have been reading a really good series on the subject lately HERE and part two HERE and as far as I understand it, there is more to come.
I do these digitally and in about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how I'm working that day i.e. how tired I am
These are all done from reference by the way, I usually just google art models or if I come across something online that I like the lights and darks of I save it to paint.
Also, I post my daily sketches or paintings on instagram now as nolanthecelt so if any of you guys are on there gimme a shout.
Also if anyone has any good tips or knowledge of working tonally that they can see Im not getting right or something, let me know in the comments :)
All the love.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Been wanting to do something more imaginative for a long time. I put it off cos it's easier to do stuff that you immediately observe in front of you or when you use a photo reference. My home stands a mere 160 metres from the eastern side of Garryvoe Beach. Eight to ten foot high clay 'cliffs' are constantly eroded by wave action; each year between a foot and a metre of ground are washed into the sea.
About once or twice a year I get a recurring dream where the cliff has suddenly come up to the house just outside the fence. Like a lot of anxiety themed dreams, just before the house falls in, the dream ends. Also skies are usually dark and menacing in such dreams. The painting looks real to match how vivid the dream feels but if you look at where the windows should be in the house, the background sky is visible instead of walls. Therefore the house is a façade and imagined.
The painting is also a prophecy, it's only a matter of time before the cliffs do come up to the house, depending on how bad global warming kicks in.
Painted using water mixable oils on linen canvas. Took 2 weeks and 2 days to complete.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Wow I'm late with this, I had written this for the last themed week since it was my suggestion. Then my computer had a hissy fit and I've been on file recovery until now. I hope you guys find it interesting!
My family background is almost universally sciences and Medicine, I'm the odd one out, however most of the family members who had a strong influence on me as a child had strong creative streaks.
My history with art started when I was six or so and my Grandfather started to teach me how to use watercolours. His preferred medium was oils, however given my then preference for exploring the world primarily with my mouth, he felt watercolours a safer bet. Due to him being a professor of anatomy, he liked to make sure my sister and I grew up with an understanding of how things worked, particularly the skeletal and muscular system.
I suspect he thought that we would also go into medicine at a later date.
That basic understanding has been immensely useful when it came to drawing in general as I was able to work out how the muscles and bones assisted and restricted each other in poses and in movement, both for real and imaginary creatures.
My secondary school while it was more keen for you to follow the more mainstream subjects still had a very good Art department and the teachers while having to follow the curriculum for GCSE and A level loved discussing any areas of the subject if you were interested (The assumption was you weren't interested so You had to ask them) I do feel that while the teachers were lovely and did what they could, the curriculum somewhat shackled them.
My general drawing skills are mostly self taught with assistance from various lovely Teachers. I learned a lot from art books and strangely even picked up tips from Dick Francis novels, Read 'To the Hilt' it's actually got some very nice tips on how to handle Acrylics sneaked into the narrative.
I Completed GCSE and A-level Art, I suppose from that I learned how to follow a brief as the assignments tended to be quite restrictive when I did them. They had a strange fascination with the theme of 'Food & Drink' it was an Irritatingly regular topic in the exams.
After that It was a Foundation in Art & Design in the UU Belfast. anyone who isn't sure where in the field of art they want to be, do the foundation year. We got to try nearly everything and Personally I fell in love with Illustration and Animation from the modules I completed. That in turn prompted me to apply for an Illustration and Animation degree in Southampton. (I was under the impression that getting a Degree was what you did.)
From the degree I learnt about those pesky things 'project management' and 'time management'. While at the time these seemed like horrible concepts, I have come to rely on them heavily to balance a fledgling freelance career with 'pay-the-bills' work.
That 3 years I think made me a better person, I learned to manage money (admittedly badly at the beginning) deal with running my own life and balance work with my coursework. Not to mention that I met some of the best people I know there. The course was a 2D animation class as 3D was only just becoming a mainstream thing (2000) so while we looked into 3D we all believed that 2D would never fall out of favour. We covered all aspects of the 2D animation process and had more life drawing classes than you would ever believe, from static poses to children running about with a dog. they was even a day that an eagle came in for the day. while I am sure we complained about the Life drawing, I can honestly say it's one of the most lasting and useful skills to have.
I have to say that I don't actually think it matters if you have a degree or not in the arts. Its more what you do with your skills. Some of the most talented and successful people/artists that I have met in the last 10 years had no official training and were so good at what they do, that it was somewhat of a challenge to try and be as good as them.
I think that as long as you are enjoying the way you work and the things you create, keep doing it. If it becomes a chore and a hassle maybe it's time to try something else.
Currently I do a variety of things in my practice, I work on commissions, I teach, I run a Web comic, and I draw purely for my own enjoyment.
I am always learning new ways to work both practical and digital I don't think I will ever get Bored with a pencil and paper handy.
My comic is a collaboration with a writer John V Clerkin and normally is posted weekly. He writes issues at a time and we plot out characters and storylines together, this is a project we do for enjoyment and because we love the characters. it's been ongoing since 2011 when we thought of it and launched I believe in 2012.
You can really tell when I changed jobs when reading through it, as the styles change greatly depending on the amount of free time I had available. Currently I hand draw, ink & watercolour the pages before sending them to John for dialogue to be added, previously the pages ranged from just pencils to completely digital. It's been a lovely learning experience and I plan to keep drawing it as long as I can.
I range from a specialty in watercolours and illustration to vivid cartoon inspired acrylic paintings which can be rather large, so far 8 foot by 4 foot was the biggest, commissioned for a show jumping event as an attraction in the ring and a distraction to the horses. My commissions range between the two, paintings in acrylic selling well over the last year, with illustrative commissions in watercolour and inks also being popular. I like drawing and painting attractive bright images with a story to them. From my childhood in a farming community, animals feature strongly, mischievous sheep, with a tendency to attempt Houdini like escapes, aloof horses, inspired by my sisters small herd who always saw humans as beneath them and a pantheon of high energy dogs and cats, all begging to have their story told.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
|Kilmartin Upper Stone Circle, Cork- Gouache on HP paper self toned using ink, coffee & gesso|
As for my background, oddly enough for a mad traditional artist I actually did Digital Design in my degree (on a side note, thats where I met fellow original Islander Richard Smythe), only in my Illustration masters did I start to drift more towards solely using traditional illustration work, though of course I did traditional in my degree too, just less so. Both are handy, as I have a innate knowledge of digital creative software because of the Degree, which is useful in this digital age, especially these days where Im starting to drift more and more towards digital in my work. And with the masters obviously illustration, self motivated and independence skills I learned still are very useful today.
I often hear though people talk about self trained vs college trained and I think the argument is largely irrelevant. Whether you get your knowledge from reading books and practising or listening to tutors and practicing, all of us have to continuously learn in our lives and probably will never stop. Even those who went to college still had to spend long hours self training in things not taught in college and after we finished college too we still had & have to (and probably forever more). So really for me there is no division and you should always be self teaching as well as picking up as much as you can from whichever sources work for you.
Which brings me to the title phrase of this post, a friend of mine, some of ye know her as 'Alexis', mentioned over the weekend the above 'Ancora Imparo' meaning- "Im still learning", referencing mans life long quest of learning, supposedly attributed to the 87 year old Michelangelo.
Alas, a quick google search sadly says its been misattributed to him, so destroying that great image of the aged master uttering these words (though on reflection, knowing some of Michelangelos life story, it seems improbable that he would never utter such humble words, being an arrogant so and so), but apparently it was a commonly phrase in Renaissance Italy, so it sums up that age in a way, as it does these current days too in my opinion and seems fitting to this months theme.
PS yep, that was me being brief :P
Thanks and happy creating to you!
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Been awhile since I posted, about time I contributed to the monthly theme! This week is a background in how the Islanders came about doing the things they do.
After Leaving Cert I did a one year preparatory Art and Design course in the VEC in Sligo. I highly recommend it. It gave me a year to grow up a bit, and gave me a broad taste of various artistic disciplines; painting, print, sculpture etc. Maybe it's not the case any more but back then there was a big leap between how secondary level and third level art was taught, so it was nice to ease into it.
From there I studied Classical Animation in Ballyfermot College of Further Education in Dublin. Another course I'd recommend. It was demanding deadlines-wise, which is reflective of the animation industry as a whole. My style is informed from all I studied in that course, whole days of life-drawing being one of the best experiences I found to really develop my drawing skills.
Unfortunately I knew by the end of the two years that animation wasn't suited to me. You need to be the type of person who wants to work for weeks/months/years one one project, drawing the same characters over and over.
When I moved to Belfast seven years ago is when I found my own voice for what I do. I took a week off work and did a week long 'Street Art Masterclass' through the Urban Arts Academy. Met amazing artists, learned loads and got a taste for mural artwork. Spraypainting I learned from artist friends who showed me the ropes. There's not much to spray painting technically, you could run through the basics in five minutes. Actually getting the spray paint to do what you want and go where you want is where it's a pain and that's what takes time to get your head around. Practise, practise, practise...and repeat.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
This is based on a photo I took 3 years ago. I've been using aluminium composite panels the past few weeks. I'd read somewhere that some canvases in museums had been under attack from an insect that eats the weaving. Realising that canvas is vulnerable to fungus, insects and to tearing I decided to give a new surface a go. Plus I've been wanting to work on metal for the last couple of years. It's the stuff used in road signs so it's as tough as it gets. To get it ready for painting, I give it a good sanding on a medium grade sandpaper. Then I apply a coat of gesso on to it. The gesso gives a good rough surface, perfect for bonding with paint.
I decided to do a pointillist style; there's dashes in the sky, foreground and sea. It gives a 'moving' feel overall. Unfortunately the dashes in the cliffs didn't come out as good as in real life, there was too much contrast with the white area next to it when photographing. The location is the cliff below the signal tower on the head of Knockadoon peninsula, you're looking across 4 or 5 miles of ocean.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Friday, January 30, 2015
long time without posting!!
actually my life is getting great changes, definitely, I will probably be in Madrid for many years and I´m trying to bring some stability here XD. So forgive my long period missings in the blog.
At least this time I will post a work It has taken me months and finally I have finished last week.
The topic is (as the title says), how would the street fighter II characters look like in the year 1700.
I started with a relative clear idea about the concepts, but during the way I started getting obsessed about the historical veracity of each character costume, which is not exempt of romanticism. So many times I´ve ended searching about the clothing weapons one other stuff of the era.
The result, many people meet this work something extremely geek, specially the part where I try to explain that I´ve made a history research with something related to street fighter (nobody cares), but in the other way I´ve enjoyed pretty much during the creation of this illustrated serie.
So this is just for fans of street fighter with restlessness in history XD.
|Ryu: Japanesse ronin|
|Balrog: Mandinga brawler taken to america|
|Blanka: Guarani indian warrior from Amazon|
|Quing Dynasty soldier|
|Dhalsim: Malabar warrior from south india|
|Guile: Sea Captain|
|E. Honda: Kabuki Samurai|
|Ken: Outlander Ronin|
|Sagat: Khmer Warrior|
|Vega: Spanish fencer|
|Zangief: Outcast warrior from Russia|
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Some recent works I have done. I started watching and listening to the Vlogs of Jeff Lafferty as I was working and got all inspired to do some traditional stuff again just for myself as most of the work I have done in the last year has been commissions and all digital at that. Jeff is a fantastic artist, go check him out here.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Purley died 30 years ago in a plane crash. I think he deserves to be remembered as does Roger Williamson. Depicting a real event where someone died horribly meant I had to try to be as faithful to the scene as I could. It's up to the viewer to decide whether I've succeeded or not.
Monday, January 12, 2015
- Something that won’t really distract me while I am working
- Music that fits the piece
Sunday, January 11, 2015
John McLaughlin, Paco DeLucia, Al DiMeola- Friday Night in San Francisco
Still a favourite of mine after many many years listening to it, three of the greatest guitarists got together to do a tour but it was just one night in San Francisco everything just seemed to work
Rolling Stones- Paint it Black
One my all time favourites, it reminds me of my time in 'Nam ;) A great period in American music
Anam an Amhráin- Cailleach an Airgid
From a series of brilliant animations by Cartoon Saloon, where they were commissioned by a TG4 show which is about Irish traditional songs, they made a modern recording of some of them from the best talent in the Gaeltacht and matched that with animation, this one from Connamara
Kíla- Cabhraigí léi
One of my favourite bands, they are the best modern reinterpretation of Irish trad in my opinion, always experimenting and searching
Nico Vega - Beast
Discovered these guys recently, the album this song is from is the first album in a long long time I have heard that the whole thing is great
System of a Down- Prison Song
A really acquired taste, System of a Downs form of metal never gets old for me
Bob Dylan- Let me Die in my Footsteps
Probably my favourite song of all time
Seán Ó Riada-Marcshlua Uí Néill/O'Neills March
I love the marches in Irish trad, this is my favourite
Brian Hughes- The Ships are Sailing
Tin whistle rocks! So lively, great music to listen to while illustrating, Besides Mary Bergin, Brian Hughes is the best
Survival of the fittest Mopp Deep
I fell in love with Hip Hop in my teens and I have never been able to shake it off, it kind of reminds me of growing up in Limerick city, the mentality, the modern city environment. Mobb Deep were the best
Biggie & Tupac Freestyle
Another great one, not a huge fan of either of them by themselves but they really pulled out all the stops for this
Rachid Taha - Barra barra
I love Rachid Tahas music, a great mix of North African music with modern elements
Tannas - Sabbal Ia'n Ic Uisdean
From the Western Isles in Scotland, a Scots Gaelic Band, Tannas, have some great music
Louis Armstrong-A Kiss To Build A Dream On
A great period in American music, the 1930-40's had so many great songs, something about wars that lead to good music. Louis Armstrong is of course one of the greatest voices in history
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Like with my tastes in art, my musical tastes seem to mimic this. I like brooding, atmospheric, melancholic music the most, strangely. I do like happy music too, but find it less interesting.
So here is a small sample of what I like. Most people who know me know that I am a huge death metal and black metal fan. The sort of discordant melodies always ring true to me! As well as this I love classical and traditional folk music. From Wagner to Liszt, I love classical because of the variation you get. I love folk music because of the stories that are sung.
Here are examples:
Nasheim - En nyckel till drömmars grind
Bach's Harpsichord in Dm
Winterfylleth - A valley thick with Oaks
Bert Jansch - Moonshine
...Bouncing off the walls.So. I pondered putting up a list of my fave artists and tunes but that would be too hard to call and make for far too long a post! So instead im going to post the soundtrack for the week (well, some of it at least) which probably gives a taste of my tastes!
I used to listen to radio a lot in mornings but found it too distracting, id be drawing and then a interview or something would pull me out of it. These days i mainly consign myself to Spotify and a large collection of tunes on my hard drives. I don't ever put on anything specifically keyed to any image i work on, so I'm not sure how much the background tune can be informing the ideas etc as i work, but it probably does a little...
Chelsea Wolfe-Feral Love
Great artist i discovered via this track that was used on Game of Thrones Trailer in 2013.
U2-Every Breaking Wave
Love them, hate them? I like a lot of the music though like most i wish Bono would talk less, sing more. This tune is gorgeous though.
Plastic Rose-Move Islands
Some friends from Sligo and this is there new track. Its savage.
Discovered this recently and its been on replay a lot.
Broods-Mother and Father
Another recent find.
Basically my favourite song (probably?). Still my favourite band and this tune is just masterful.
Talking Heads-Once in a Lifetime
Always gets me in a good mood.
Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy-Television the drug of a Nation
Old track but a relevant message, even more so in this day of Iphones, Internet and social media.
Gil Scott Heron-The revolution will not be televised
Just damn cool! And says something real too..
Got into Bowie late, but damn hes great...
Old track, College years and memories!
Stone Temple Pilots-Pretty Penny
Loved their earlier stuff but Weiland is meant to be a bit of a difficult chap. Still, good tune!
Friday, January 9, 2015
Nirvana 'Drain You' from a John Peel session
They never sounded better imo. All-time favourite band.
Tom Waits 'Hang Down Your Head'
I've gotten into his stuff in the last year, unique artist.
Captain Beefheart 'Plastic Factory'
From his amazing debut album, 'Safe as Milk', again unique sound.
Roy Orbison 'Goodnight'
The big 'O'. One of the greatest singing voices of the 20th Century.
The Ronettes 'Baby I Love You'
The best pop song ever imo.
Blind Willie Johnson 'Nobody's Fault But Mine'
Highly recommend this, nobody else sounds like him.
Stiff Little Fingers 'Rough Trade'
Punk band from the North.
Nigel Kennedy 'Hungarian Dance No. 5' by Brahms
I like some classical. He's an amazing violinist.
Leadbelly 'Tell Me Baby'
Great performer. I like how he tells the background story to the song at the start.
Woody Guthrie 'Baltimore to Washington'
Lou Reed 'Wagon Wheel'
Was saddened when he died in October 2013.
Neil Young 'Thrasher'
One of his best written songs. The lines 'But me I'm not stopping there, got my own row left to hoe/ Just another line in the field of time' are dear to me.
Joni Mitchell 'Little Green'
From her amazing album, 'Blue'. Female songwriting has rarely been equalled.
Mark Lanegan 'Wish You Well'
A veteran from the grunge scene in Seattle.
Rita Connolly 'The defence of Hen's Castle' from Grainuaile by Shaun Davey
There's be a gap if I didn't include something Irish. 'Grainuaile' is an amazing landmark record, based on Grace O'Malley, the 16th Century pirate queen.