Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Quiet Man

I drive through Cong on my way to Connemara and recently they had a week end of celebrations in connection with the John Ford movie "The Quiet Man" where they unveiled a life size statue of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, Maureen actually did the unveiling.

Clifden Arts Trail

Clifden a place I have mentioned many times before is a beautiful town on the edge of the Atlantic. They hold an Arts Festival every September, and as part of it they have an Arts Trail on the shop windows. This post is a little late for you to catch it live but I wanted to share my contribution to it.  I display my work on Derval Joyce's window, she is my sister and to keep it in the family my nephew Mark Joyce exhibited his sculptures. Mark has an interesting page on Facebook Mythology Iireland that you should also check out.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

2nd Alphabet last!

I was so far behind on my second alphabet that I thought I'd never catch up. But today was so wet and miserable with storm like conditions raging outside and that combined with my new enthusiasm for Japanese ink drawing I made a start with the alphabet.
I had been practicing/doodling on a sketch book where I had already some rough montbretia, so I got the idea to divide it into the 7cm. x 7cm squares required for A.L.A.W.
 Using red ink as we used on our Japanese drawings, I stamped the alphabet, with a rubber stamp set I got last Christmas as a gift.

You can see more of this over at A Letter a Week.  Now I  have to start thinking about the book I will make to keep the letters in. I would like to use some of this paper,  they are only off cuts so I don't know if I will have enough to use for a cover.

Monday, 28 October 2013


I am home after my few days in West Dean in West Sussex. It was Japanese week so now I know a little about Shibori, and Sashiko, what beautiful sounding words. The course I was doing was Sumi-e, Japanese ink painting. I don't have alot to show after my 3 days but I have a good grasp of the basic techniques and this art is considered a form of meditation, so perhaps that is why my output was limited, the preparing and doing were as important as the results. We also made our own brush from bamboo as well as carving a seal from soapstone. So now with this new found knowledge all I have to do is practice, practice and then practice some more.
Below are a few images, we were mostly imitating the marks made by our tutor Takumasa 
This red seal above means "Happy", the seal below  I made and was to have the first letter in my name but it ended up nothing like it. Adding ones name in Japanese and the red seal made all the difference to the overall balance of the picture. It gave it authenticity.
 These are "Lovebirds" you would not believe how difficult the short tail feathers were to make, I have still not perfected them.
 The flowers we did from still life, we were treated to a Japanese flower arranging demonstration, they were so beautiful, the simplicity of their aesthetics is so pure and everything has its origins in nature.
Takumasa Ono our tutor knelt on the ground to drew, we were all relieved that we did not have to do that too.
Here you can see some of the equipment we used, I loved how it was all so traditional and little had changed in centuries.
Here you can Takumasa showing Susan how to mount her finished piece, a complicated and wet process but very useful to know. The Japanese paper is so thin one really has to mount it and the whiteness of the mounting board shows through the paper and changes and enhances the painting.

 I have to give you a glimpse at West Dean, once again it did not disappoint. Lovely surroundings, good food and friendly/interesting company. I can see how people keep returning, I met some serial course goers, mostly women, is there something gender based that women want to keep learning regardless of age? We were so fortunate with the weather compared to the storms hitting the U.K. this week. thanks to Pam I also had a nice afternoon exploring the nearby town of Chichester which is adorable, full of interesting history and cute shops.

So now my new goal is to visit Japan, the countryside rather than the big cities, I have started researching already and have got some interesting links from Carol, another West Dean Japanese enthusiasts.
And a final word to my sumi-e class mates, keep painting.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Letter a Week

I feel so honored to have been included in an exhibition arising out of my participation in A Letter a Week   A Letter a Week - Artistic Travels Through the Alphabet. is currently running at Cooroy Butter Factory, on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Organised by Fiona Dempster, check her out  at paperponderings and read about the exhibition there. This is the awesomeness of the internet that one can connect with a global community with a shared interest. This project has encouraged me to revisit calligraphy  a subject I so enjoyed in school, but I had not practiced since. I am no where near the standard of the other participants but I have found their encouraging words and support invaluable. Next week as almost an extension to my new found love of ink and paper I am doing a short course in West Dean on Sumi-e Japanese ink painting. I already draw with ink in my paintings so I am hoping this will give me some new skills and insights. I have been to West Dean before, it is a wonderful place to stay and meet new people while also learning something. I also get to spend a few days in London on the way so that is always exciting for me, I love the buzz there. Hopefully I will have some interesting ink drawings to show you when I return. Meanwhile here are a couple of my latest paintings, getting into ink mode..

Below I am trying out gold leaf.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sadly Missed

 I like to keep things, I'm not a hoarder but I hate to part with stuff that I have a sentimental attachment too. I discussed this with my family recently and I realized that many of these objects that are so dear to me have little meaning for them, so why am I holding onto all this STUFF? There are so many blogs written about getting organised, with pictures of tidy, well ordered homes. These bloggers seem to be "super" people, they can do it all and arrange their books according to the colour wheel! One suggestion I thought was excellent, you photograph the object you are so attached to before bringing it off to the Goodwill shop or skip, and then put it in an album and write the story beside the photo. I like that idea and the family can read about it rather than fall over it in the spare room. Taking that advice I decided "Shy Girl" had to go. Firstly I photographed her.

You can see she is a little chipped but she is older than me. She once stood beside "Shy Boy" but he has long  gone. She and her boy were on the window sill of our sitting room when I was a child, It was the good room used only for occasions. I am the youngest in my family and was considered a "chatter box" which I did not like and I had aspirations to be like "Shy Girl", all quiet and demure. She so connects and transports me to my childhood, now I've taken the photographs and shared the story, I still can't part with her. Just looking at her brings me right back to the sitting room, a fire lit, Mammy with me, which was an occasion in itself as we had a business and she rarely had time to be "inside" rather than "in the shop". She might have been knitting or making a hand hooked rug, which she did during the winter evenings, she could never sit and be idle, maybe we were eating iced caramels, my Mothers favorite or grapes if she was on a diet.
Ah! letting go is so difficult, so many memories of a time that can never be brought back, but at least the memories last a lifetime, and mine are very precious.

My Mother Enda Joyce passed away this August at the great age of 97, she will be sadly missed.
Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam

Friday, 6 September 2013


Connemara is ablaze at the moment with this flower Crocosmia x crocomiiflora or commonly known as Montbretia. Originally a cross between two less striking South African species, it has become naturalized in much of England and Ireland.

below is my attempt at depicting it, water colour is not my natural medium som I have failed to catch the lightness of it.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Tinahealy Show

As I said I was at Tinahealy Show. I always like to look at the craft tent. This is where people enter classes and are judged and win small cash prizes as well as the honor and glory and some of these classes can be cut throat. I am always struck by the lack of design at these event. The handwork  is highly skilled but the design is so lacking. I do not know how this can be rectified, but it is such a shame that there is not more emphasis put on design. Perhaps the I.C.A. could do something about it on their courses, they are an influential body in this arena.  The skills are there but it seems they are immune to changing trends. I saw a "Tweed Picture" at this show, it won a prize,  that's fine but has anybody made a tweed picture since 1972? What about the decorative Wellingtons? well a bit of fun I guess and it lets the imagination run wild.  On a positive note I  was very impressed with the cupcakes! But the bird houses are a fine example of what I'm saying about the lack of design.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Northern Shore

Last week I was at Tinahely Agricultural Show, It has got to be one of the best shows of its kind in the country, and the setting in Co. Wicklow is stunning. I am not so interested in livestock which may sound strange to you considering that I live on a farm, but to those that know me well they will be more surprised to hear that I was at an Agricultural Show. But Tinahealy is the exception, I was there over 20 years ago and was delighted to return and I was not disappointed. There is so much to see excluding livestock that I had a most enjoyable day.
I met Kajsa Kinsella from Northern Shore Design  Originally from Denmark her Scandinavia sense of design made her stall in the craft tent stand out from all the others, I was so taken with her display, the painted baskets, her labels and even how she was dressed herself, it all coordinated. The blue baskets and aluminium containers showed of her wares to perfection. Just look at the candle in the cookie cutter, Think of the hours of work that went into making the stuff for this event. I bought a "house" you can see it in the bottom picture. When I asked Kajsa what it was for, she said you put in on a shelf or anywhere and look at it and it will make you feel good, and indeed I did just that and it does make me feel good. Not everything has to have a useful purpose.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Studio Work

Following on from the peace alphabet I made some small collages that I may exhibit next mouth at Shorelines Arts Festival Here are a few of them, What do you think?


I have finished my Peace Book for A Letter a Week.

 The first book I made with A.L.A.W. has gone to Australia where it will be exhibited along with 50-60 other books from the project. There are 30 artists from 7 countries participating. The exhibition will be held at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre , Sunshine Coast, Queensland in October. Regretfully I won't be going to the opening.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Twelve Pins

If you are on holidays in the West of Ireland this week, you are in for a treat. the fine weather is showing off the spectacular scenery to its best, here are some pictures I took the other morning of Derryclare, a much favored photo spot, if you Google it under images you will see what I mean. The sky and clouds were fantastic. Don't you wish you were there.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Ah a Heat Wave!

I know many of my recent posts have been about the weather, the miserable wet Spring we had etc. so I feel it is only proper to share with you now that we are having a heat wave. We are experiencing temperatures up to the high 20's and some days even 30 degrees. Imagine! I don't remember ever having such a sustained spell of hot dry weather in my life time, although like many I feel summers were always warm when I was a child, but that may be my memory playing tricks. So what better way to celebrate the sunshine than to go to the sea side. I went to Keel Beach in Achill Co. Mayo and here are some pictures of the beautiful blue Atlantic.

Achill is an island in Co. Mayo accessible by a bridge. It was a much loved location for artists Grace and Paul Henry being the most notable. Now it has been ruined by development, every vista is ruined by cottages built without a care about the integrity bof the place. Keel where this beach is has a thriving caravan park and little else. I took a photo of the hotel where Paul Henry used to stay,
it is a sorrowful sight.
The building below I thought was charming and might make a good subject for a painting.

Although that digger looks threatening, I hope this id not for demolition!
Ah, but the sea was beautiful.

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