Monday, 15 December 2014

After ClareGalway Christmas Craft Fair

I am still on a high from the wonderful weekend I had at the first Claregalway Christmas Craft Fair. It was a magical venue and the entertainment and craft on display was excellent. It was not without some first time teething problems one of which was that it was over two levels and many visitors did not know that there was more upstairs and missed half the exhibitors, a couple of arrows and signs would have helped, Yes, I was upstairs so this small thing effected me big time but that beside the organisers were so helpful and accommodating and I can see this event growing and fast becoming the BEST Christmas Fair in the west to match the already outstanding Garden Festival they run there during the summer, so well done to the Castle for taking the initiative and giving us craft people a beautiful venue to showcase our work. I imagine as it grows It will become harder to get in so some mindful curating may be required, if I specialised in flower arrangements for example I would not want to find another 3 stall holders doing the same thing.
I met many interesting people and it was lovely to be able talk to "the customer" which does not happen in a Gallery except on opening night. I was flattered by how many knew of my work and a couple already had paintings by me. Thank you to all who bought and I was especially pleased that most of my artist books sold. Many took my card so if you are reading this blog and are sorry that you did not buy  I am offering 20% discount on all the larger oil paintings I had at the Fair until December 24th, If you don't already have my contact details you will find it on my web site or leave a comment below.
Here are a few pictures for those that missed it.
Yes it is a real castle and a perfect venue for a Christmas event and when it got dark it was stunning with the lights and log fires burning outside.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Claregalway Castle Christmas Fair

Just a quick note to tell you I will be showing some art and crafts this weekend at the Claregalway Castle Christmas Fair. I have a terrific mix of items, from paintings, purses, dolls, cards, artist books and even some up cycled furniture so if you are in the area pop in and take a look.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

On my easel this week

I has been a while since I showed you anything on my easel, mainly because there has been nothing to show but this week I did some painting, nothing too exciting but it is a start. I'm not sure if its finished yet but i need to leave it to dry for a while and I will see how I feel about it then. I used a very limited palette because so many of my paint tubes have gone hard from lack of use, i will have to take a trip to an art shop and get some new tubes, maybe Santa might bring me new paints. i would love a good quality water color set that I could travel with any suggestions?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Ah the penmanship!

This video shows the making of a Japanese Kokeshi doll, what craftsmanship.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I was invited to participate in "Around the World Blog Hop" by Diana Marshall. It is a simple idea where I answer some questions about my art practice and then hand the baton on to another to continue the hop. I have been looking at some of the past contributors and the insight into their practice makes for very interesting reading. I am flattered to be in such good company, but feel I am an "artist lite" by comparison.

Firstly, Thank you Diana for inviting me and congratulations on your recent exhibition in Wexford. Although we live in the same county our paths had not crossed, co-incidentally we both started out as dress designers. She is a realist painter working in oils. Drop over to her Blog and take a look at her terrific work, I found it so difficult to select an image from her portfolio as they are all beautiful, But this one will give you an idea of the fabulous artist she is, just look at those reflections.
1724 Rounded Off by DIANA MARSHALL Oil ~ 8" / 20 cm x 10" / 25.4 cm

I loved art in school and I had a terrific art teacher the late Mrs. Gillan whom I am indebted too for encouraging and nurturing my visual awareness. As a mature student I gained a Fine Arts degree, since graduating  I have had some success with exhibitions and awards, but I still have trouble labeling myself  an "artist".

I am a bi-polar artist, its all or nothing, I go for long periods where I don't paint and then other times where I paint all the time, I  need goals and pressure to actually produce work. I find painting difficult, it gives me much angst as I think its not my default creative setting, but when it works well it is so satisfying so maybe its a matter of "no gain without pain".

The Questions

What am I working on now
I am preparing for a Christmas Craft Fair so I am busy sewing, making Art Books and small collages. My interest in book making has arisen from my participation in A letter a week.

How does my work differ from others of its gene
I use ink as well as oil on the canvas,  I am not interested in "technique" the "thick over thin" stuff. I never read instruction books about anything, I just go at a thing and learn/adapt as I go along and I think that freedom from rules is now part of my style.

Why do I create what I create
Well I can't sing, I am a terrible cook, but I have to create be it sewing, planting, window dressing, making cards, collages, or embroidery, It is what defines me, who I am, I have to make/create to keep myself on an even keel. If I don't have a creative project I'm unfulfilled.

How does my creating process work
I don't have a process as such. It actually happens while I'm not looking. By that I mean if I decide I'm going to spend a day painting and put on my painting clothes ( I am a messy worker)  it just won't happen, I'll decide the floor needs to be mopped or the cobwebs cleared, But if I steal in to the studio (in best clothes)  I can find I'm still there working furiously many hours later only to be disturbed by my husband wondering "When is dinner?"
I always keep a few canvases on the go just to use to warm up, they will never be completed paintings. My best work I make as "an aside" while I labor with these others. It feels a little like when a writer says their fictional characters take over and dictate the plot, I too find the paint takes over, by putting the paint on and scraping back an image will emerge, I never decide/plan before hand what I'm going to paint, I will put a rough out line of a landscape down to begin, just to get over the "blank canvas" stage. I paint quickly and a painting can come together in a couple of hours, But I may have to make 10 paintings before one comes along that I'm happy with. My biggest fault is to revisit or tweak it later, then I'm likely to loose it forever. I'm more interested in atmosphere, isolation, suggestions of a landscape, weather, I love gray misty days and we get lots of them in Ireland. I work on linen (rather than canvas) or boards that I prepare with rabbit skin glue etc. they make for a smoother supports for the ink. I have learned not to cut myself up with my unconventional work practice, It is my personality and feel that is a big part of all creativity, we are all different and no one formula works for all.

Here I am  adding an additional question!
Any other comments
I feel quite isolated as an artist living in a rural area. I miss the robust exchanges and critiques of art College. While the countryside gives me endless inspiration and I am fortunate to live in a beautiful place it lacks the support of fellow artists.

Here are two of my recent paintings that show what I am interested in at the moment and may give some clarity to what I mentioned above.

I  have invited Swedish artist Nancy Gronholm. (she lives in Spain)to continue with "Around the World Blog Hop" she will be posting Monday Nov.24th. I love her work which I came across first on Illustration Friday where she is a regular contributor. She does the most beautiful whimsical drawings and illustrations as well as watercolours and oil paintings. Below are two of her pieces to see more visit her Blog Here, she has a Free Giveaway at the moment too.

Her fine art prints are available to purchase on Etsy.  And she loves cats!

Thank you Nancy in advance for accepting my invitation.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


I thought I would share a recent discovery with you. Uppercase magazine. It is one of the best magazines I have come across in ages. It is published in Canada the brain child of Janine Vangool and is available world wide via subscription. In Ireland I have found it in one shop Article in Dublin. It is not cheap but I feel it is worth every penny, Their by line is " For the creative and curious" and it is just that.  One can read and re read it and always be inspired. It comes out quarterly and each issue will have a theme i.e. collage, stitching etc. and the current issue No. 23 is all about Calligraphy, my friends at aletteraweek2014. will love it. The articles are mainly contributions from artists and craft people and it is so interesting to read about their practice and how they have created businesses from their passion. But take a look at their web site, I think you won't be disappointed. Talking about sharing your work practice I have been invited to take part in "Around the World Blog Hop" which also asks artists to share a little about their practice. I will be posting that next Monday

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

No Comment :( but Winner Allright!

So you are all a little shy out there, Nobody left any comments for my Giveaway but I noticed in my Stats that there was more traffic coming from some blogs, so with some detective work I found that I had been mentioned and linked from these Blogs so I thank you for that. Penny over at Back Valley Seasons is the winner of the polka dot purse, I'm putting it in the post today and it will be on its way to Australia. I love to get a present in the post so Penny I hope it cheers you up.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Some sewing & Free Give Away

I could not resist buying some lovely fabric last week in The Quilt Shop, Tuam. But I'm always at a loss how to use it. I have enough patchwork cushions and half made quilts, I like projects that I can complete in one sitting. So I make some I-Pad covers, they will be useful Christmas gifts. My sewing is not perfect but I think the design is pretty and original.

And while I had the sewing machine out I make some purses too,

It has been a while since I had a give away. So leave a comment and maybe link/mention my blog on yours and one of you will receive this very handmade polka dot zipper purse.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Antique Apothecary Drawer Run

I got a hugh response and had much interest in the antique drawer run I featured here earlier in the summer. I promised to keep you posted re. my restoration progress. I'm happy to report that I am almost there, many many hours later and much hard work I am delighted with the results. I need to thank Tom of Dowd Furniture for his sensitive craftsmanship, he repaired the broken drawers and now they all function as they should. I also got materials, expert historical advice and a Master class on staining and finishing the piece from Audrey (the daughter) of Adams and daughter, the best in the business. so just a little sneak preview here.

 I'm missing a knob, any suggestions where I might get a replacement? I still a few drawers to finish and wax and when that's done Ill show you the piece in its entirety so "Watch this space".

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Art Books

I was at an Art Book work shop in the National Print Museum a few weeks ago. Caroline Byrne was the tutor and it was a very productive enjoyable day. We did lots of different types of folded books and a hard covered book with a stitched spine, it is so good to see a demonstration rather than trying to follow instructions in a book, it removes the fear so to speak.
I did not want to waste the samples I made so I added covers and illustrations when I got home. Here are some photos.

Monday, 8 September 2014


Here is another small collage. I really enjoy making these but I will have to try making them bigger!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

September and Blackberries

I love September, the days are getting shorter but there is still enough evening light to get a walk in after tea and one wants to make the most of it before winter sets in in earnest. There is also something about the air that brings me right back to childhood, remembering back to school, newly covered books, clean fresh copies, lunch in a box, and a return of routine after the long free days of summer. I guess I must have liked going back to school!
This year the hedgerows are full of blackberries, does that mean we will have a severe winter? I don't usually make jam but with so many berries how could I not make use of them. I'm not a natural cook but I can follow a recipe and provided I don't get distracted and forget I'm cooking something (until I smell it burning) I  manage to produce the occasional decent meal.
So this afternoon I made some jam. Delia Smith is my guru, I have her Delias Complete Cookery Course for 20+ years and I followed her advice re. jam making, but I may have gone a little astray on the wrinkle test to see if it was at setting consistency! I made 2 separate pans so feel my 2nd batch was better.

All the scratches from the brambles and stirring of the jam was worth it to have my cupboard filled with these pretty pots. I cant wait to try it on some nice warm scones with cream, Ah, bliss.
Seamus Heaney wrote a lovely poem abut Blackberry Picking listen to him reading it Here

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Sunday Makeover

It is the first wet dark day we have had for ages so autumn is approaching. What better way to spend the day than painting a little piece of furniture, I only had some small chalk paint sample pots but the piece was small and people that know me will know when an idea strikes I have to go at it straight away, I won't let a little thing like not having all the supplies stop me! I also wanted to do a practice run writing with gold paint on wood. I had a cheap set of drawers that were perfect for a trial piece. Firstly as in all good makeovers I removed the knobs, then I painted it roughly with red Annie Sloan chalk paint, I had so little left in the jar that I could not cover it fully but I only needed it on the edges really. unfortunately I had this red paint on when I took the first photo so its not an exact " Before" picture.
                                                                  da dum (the drum roll)

Then I painted it with Annie Sloan graphite with some Liberon "Vegetable Black" pigment added, although after sanding it seemed more graphite than Black,  later I added the pigment again to the wax which gave me the finish I was looking for.
Here are the paints, pigment, wax and ink I used.
Now for the gold letters, I was pleased with how easy it was to use the gold ink on the wood, The first one I cut a stencil for but after that I found it easier to do it free hand, if I had chalk it would have been better I could have written it in chalk and then painted over it, but I had no chalk so I need to put it on my shopping list. I thought the gold was far too shiny and new looking for the distressed look I wanted but that could be fixed later.

In the picture above I have waxed the edges and between the drawers with clear wax that I added black pigment to..
"Bits" annoyed me as the "i" was not at the same slant angle as the other letters, this is the one I cut the stencil for, you can see as you go down the drawers my writing was improving.


 So after the wax and allot of elbow grease I have a new very distressed looking drawers. I have to get four new knobs and then its all done. I may revisit the letters again as I feel they would look better in a gloss paint, but this will do for today. Now its time to put the feet up and catch up with the Sunday papers.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Old Dublin

Saw this door the other day on a building just outside Dublin Castle, A remnant from the past.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A.L.A.W. "Place" Alphabet

At last I have finished my "Place" Alphabet. You can see the others over HERE

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