Artwork, web projects, and updates to

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Paintings in Progress: Irish Streetscapes

So this is where it starts. Pink, yellow, and green. Of course I could call it finished and it could live in the Abstract category, in the section entitled Squares.   But it isn't finished. And it isn't abstract.

Look Mammy, another one! Ah yes, but of where? Well, this Irish Street, though generic, was really based on Listowel, County Kerry. And so, unsurprisingly, was this street. Listowel again then? No. To be honest, I don't know. Do you?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Drawing: Clonmel

Ink Drawing of ClonmelLong before people got nostalgic for JCBs holding up by-passes, travel used to be not simply going from point A to point B; there used to actually be a whole bunch of letters in-between. Call me a Luddite, but greater infrastructure is what they do in Science Fiction when moving from one place to another; there is no journey, only leaving and arriving.

What then for the social fabric of the places no longer in-between? It's what midwesterners do here when they drive from behind an automatic garage door to return to behind the same automatic door. What chance has conversation?

This is Clonmel, a place that was only ever in-between for me, and now is waiting to be arrived at. Or left. I'll paint it grey and amber.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sketch: Waterford not Glass

Not a piece of crystal in sight.

Last time I was in Waterford it rained. Not quite sure how to paint it yet. Dark grey and brooding, probably - the painting, not me. With a lime green sky. And a couple of strokes of red on the grey buildings.

Last time the crystal was in sight I was minding a little girl. A bull in a china shop is nothing compared to a two-year-old in the most famous glass shop in the world.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Soft Day, Thank God

Of course it would happen just after I whine about cloudless blues skies, but fair is fair - today was the most magnificent of vibrantly grey days.

Much more than the distracting sticky heat of summer's dog days, or the bold light of crisp autumn, or the days of snowy prettiness, the days like today - which occur all too rarely in the west of the midwest - are much more tangible in their beauty. There is no weather that makes me more want to paint than the thousand greys of a soft wet day.

This is not mere misplaced nostalgia by an emigrant for weather left behind, because I felt the same when I lived in such weather in Ireland. Slea Head, Binevenagh, and the Sally Gap are all much more colourful and dramatic on the edge of rain. And here in KC the grass and the bark of trees come alive, and the surfaces of asphalt and painted walls are animated by a million reflections of raindrops. This, is gorgeous.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Painting-in-Progress: Water Tower

Painting of Water Tower - Stage 1Honestly, it is a Water Tower. An American one from here in the Midwest and not an Irish one. That would look completely different.

This is the first stage of the painting - just an initial underpainting - so I decided to make the photograph something better to look at than just the painting.

At this stage the unfinished paintings might seem to be getting out of hand. They're not - they've always been out of hand. In a couple of months, when I get a chance, I'll re-organize the various works-in-progress so their progress (or regress) can be followed.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Banality of Blue-Sky Thinking

Since leaving Ireland I have seen too few clouds. No, there are not as many cloudless days here in the KC area as there are in Phoenix's Valley of the Sun,  and yes in the crisp perfect sunlight the different houses and trees are strikingly beautiful. But day after day after day? The relentlessness of its beauty bores the pants off me. Go on, click the Blue Sky to get an idea. It's often very lonely to be invigorated by a grey day, and dare I say it but even more so one with just a hint of moisture.

One of Yahoo's Finds of the Year  is the website of The Cloud Appreciation Society. Chosen in Yahoo's Weird and Wonderful  category there are a ton of great photos - including those of amazing couds seen recently in Nebraska, and great big surf clouds in the Australian outback. They even include an excerpt from Ruskin's Modern Painters  - the section called Of the Open Sky.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You can never have enough Four Courts

Four Courts Drawing
Two and a half years ago at the inaugural Kansas City Irish Fest, I sold no trees.

More correctly I sold Four Courts, No Trees, and ever since then I keep returning to the building. As I never liked London Planes, and have issues with urban trees on the whole, I've been removing them for many years before Dublin's authorities started doing so.

Imagine if that worked in reverse.

v7ndotcom elursrebmem update

In the current SEO (Search Engine Optimization) contest to rank in Google search results for the phrase "v7ndotcom elursrebmem", Google is today showing 1,070,000 results (there were zero 10 days ago). And my v7ndotcom elursrebmem page is ranked in position #61.

If you're interested in the background to this contest or SEO contests in general, my v7ndotcom elursrebmem entry has genuine content, and not spam.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Painting Sold: Elephant, Red

One of my favourites of the small paintings of animals, affectionately known as the Wedding Invitation Series,  sold yesterday from the Yessy Online Gallery.

Elephant, Red  is a tiny of a fraction larger than standard ACEO paintings, (so it could have those couple of millimetres trimmed), and when I ship it to California today I'll be sad to see it go. But for the same bargain price of $25 you could have another original painting from the series and make me happy again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Suggested Name Wins $100 !

A couple of weeks ago Darren Rowse, the Australian full-time blogger and co-founder of B5Media, ran a competition where he solicited suggestions for a domain name for a new blog.

We were told this new site would primarily be about helping people get the most from life and would include tips, inspiration, story and discussion. It would also likely tap into the prowess Darren displays on many of his technical blogs. The new blog however, would be designed to be broader in appeal than his existing web or tech sites and would take on emotional, spiritual and relational issues. As this coming June sees Darren become a Dad, fatherhood is also a likely subject.

A quite general brief then, but helped by being told he intended to write it in the tone he uses for the much-loved, the Web's primary authority on making money from blogging, and that he sees it positioned close to the likes of, 43Folders, and Slacker Manager.

All we had to do was find a domain name which met that brief of branding, tone and content, and was available of course. And for good measure a .com address was preferred. Dictionaries, Thesaurus, Domain-naming tools, and Look-Ups in hand, and an hour later I had a suggestion: Earlier this evening on ProBlogger it was announced as the winning entry and my dog was wondering why I was suddenly cheering.

eMail Problems

Lest anybody think I have fallen off the planet, I haven't but there have been major problems all day with my mailserver resolving. For hours I have been unable to access eMail via either an eMail-client or webmail. So apologies if you think I'm ignoring you, I just haven't received anything - and if I had I still wouldn't be able to respond. This is not good.

UPDATE at 8:55pm Finally just got access to webmail. Access to mail via the eMail-client was restored, albeit in a stuttering fashion, a couple of hours ago.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Can See My House From Here

Urban walks in Dublin I did as if I was walking a drawing. Of course to look at me nobody knew what I was doing but, with the remembered route as line, I could see the drawing.

Once in a while I'd hit a problem. Because people don't draw by going back over a line (well they do sometimes - but that's just silly), as I walked I would never retrace my steps. But, dead-ends.

So what do you do when you come to a cul-de-sac? Stop. Rest for an hour. Or more. And always a way forward then made itself available. And you could see the rest of the drawing from that point.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Papa Bear

The top of the stove needed a good cleaning, so as ever I applied washing up liquid as if I were Jackson Pollock being filmed in the Hamptons. Leaving those pink lines undisturbed, I was now happy with myself and my half-done job. And shur I'd get to actually cleaning it in a minute. Or two.
The next day, drifting in and out of consciousness following a night's work on the computer, I realised I was awake fully when I saw Quinn with the cleaning sponge in his hand and the stove covered in suds. Minutes later I hear, Look Daddy, you can see your reflection in it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A New Car

Mask Body Sketch

-Quinn! Look at that car! What kind of car is that?
-Probably a new car, Daddy, they're making new cars every day now

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sketch: Park Gate

The Phoenix Park in Dublin is the park in question, not Swope in KC. Castleknock Gate. I don't plan to make a painting of it. Then again the things I do plan, well...

Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, it's winter in the midwest. Cold, you ask? Well...outside on Sunday I was wearing a t-shirt, and on Tuesday it was cold enough that I wore the jacket you wear when it's cold enough, and then today it was back to being out in a t-shirt again. Tomorrow snow is forecast, and on Saturday it's forecast to melt. Are you keeping up?

-Is everything alright?
-Grand, thanks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Contour Drawing: Face

You put the pencil on the paper and you draw a single line. When you come up for air your line is finished and so is your drawing. There is no going back. Your mistakes are permanent, and maybe you should never have started.

These work better if you can see the line before you begin to draw it. I used to do these much more often so I used to be much better at seeing the line.

Too busy with web projects to stick this in Drawings right now, so it'll live here in Talking Squares for a while - but you can see a larger version if you click it (should you care to).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's In The Trees, It's Coming!

Very busy on the web development front these days - which in turn means art output suffers. So for efficiency I increase the amount of painting I do in my head. You wouldn't believe how feverishly busy I am in there. I've painted whole countries.

This clump of trees I have been visiting several times a week for over two years, and have painted to death in my head. As such the actual paintings should come out fairly fast and relatively smooth. I'm almost ready, though much like a certain Haystacks  series think I'll have to paint many variations of them to be pleased. I'm especially taken with their appearance in autumn where the bushes around the bottom retain their luminous green foliage long after the trees had lost theirs.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Painting: Elevator in Winter II

I passed it so many times, always wanting to stop and take in its majestic size and contours. But being late was never worth the consequences.

In coldest winter the ice came, allowing me to be late and to walk around these great shapes. And then followed the paintings. And the thaw.

This painting, Elevator in Winter II   has been newly added to the MidWest section of the website.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cooper's Ireland: Kilkea Castle

COOPER'S IRELAND: Drawings and Notes from an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman  by Peter Harbison, is a book I'm reading that my son gave me for Christmas. Austin Cooper was a civil servant who drew the ancient buildings and monuments of Ireland as he came across them on his travels. It's a delight of a book, featuring many castles, abbeys, churches, round towers, and monuments that I have cycled past or visited.

My mother's 60th birthday, my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, and four weddings of friends, are among the major events I have missed at home in Ireland and England since moving to the States.

Although some of the buildings Cooper recorded have already disappeared, many more survive, though often in ruins, today. Kilkea Castle (pictured) in southern Kildare survives, mainly due to alterations in the mid-nineteenth century. Today it is a hotel, and thanks to its proximity to Carlow I have been lucky enough to attend two wonderful weddings there - one of them since emigrating.

Cooper's Ireland   is published by O'Brien in association with the National Library of Ireland

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pink Perfection

Much further south than where I grew up, the Kansas City area paints its own sunsets. Comparable in latitude to Athens or the Toe of Italy, whereas Dublin is up there in Canada with the coast of Labrador, KC sunsets don't take too long.

Walking for the last hour of sunlight tonight I watched a fabulous sky of swirling gentle whisks light up with a roaring pink streak in among the blue greys. And it all happened so fast the movement rendered it like it was being painted before your eyes.

Living in Missouri not too far from the State Line, I often look west to Kansas a few miles thinking that's where it would be perfect.

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Irish Sky

For a long time now I'm been living with a sky that I liked a lot even though it didn't quite work. Donegal Cliffs  is a painting I've been working on for years. Far from finished, the pink sky had had its day and needed updating.

Today I live with a new sky. See how much happier the world is? Or at least the Donegal Cliffs ? Now all I have to do is finish the rest of the painting.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

An American Tiger

There are times you want to put one of your arms around the big furry neck of a large animal and hug it. If you had a large animal.

This is a picture of a tiger.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Painting in Progress: Cleaning Windows

Cleaning Windows
Talking of squares, here's something I'm working on. Okay it's really a sketch. But it's specifically for a painting, so I won't file it in the Drawings section. And when it turns into colour I'll throw into the wonderful unfinished section with the rest of my life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sketch: Busy Lizzie

Once upon a time when I liked life, I also liked Busy Lizzies. Today it is snowing - which makes plant life picturesque they say. I don't like snow.

Who could like a Busy Lizzie with snow?

A larger version of this sketch of a Busy Lizzie has now been placed in the Drawings section.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Muddlet & Gellick

Quinn's been busy with drawing monsters from Deltora Quest, and encouraging me to do the same. This is his picture of a Muddlet using a drawing set given to him by his grandad. Muddlets are good-natured but unreliable beasts, who can travel at high speeds but are very stubborn and can lead their riders into grave danger.


Had a go at Gellick myself - the resident giant toad from Dread Mountain, but I got lost in the folds. I much prefer my son's Muddlet.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

KC Irish Fest temp update

The Kansas City Irish Fest is now wearing new, albeit temporary, clothes.

Using xhtml, CSS, and the Image Replacement model, a combination of floating and static backgrounds create a flexible header area that, together with JavaScript, function for the maximum number of screen/resolution variations across all browsers whilst following classic usability guidelines in retaining readability, and for the most part adhering to web standards.

Or if you know absolutely nothing about websites - I changed the date from 2005 to 2006.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 06, 2006

Painting in Progress: Connemara Island

Connemara Island

The first time I was mesmerized by those islands in Connemara with those other-worldly trees, there was a very attractive girl sitting beside me - who couldn't see the wood for the trees - and as a result she was constantly trying to distract me.

This painting is closer to finished than it may appear, but for now joins the unclickable thumbs "on the easel"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Painting in Progress: Ireland Pink and Blue

Ireland Pink and Blue

This painting is quite close to completion - just a few brave daubings away. Of course if I get them wrong then I have to start again, but I knew that when I started.

Ireland Pink and Blue  has been added to the unfinished category on the easel as another unfuriatingly unclickable thumbnail.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

40 Shades of White

Perhaps it's Johnny Cash's fault. I think when you've played in such fields through your childhood you end up with a patchwork pattern upon your brain.

When I decide if I've finished this I'll add it to the Drawings section. I intended to add colour to it but now I don't think I'll bother. Sometimes there just isn't any colour.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Painting: Cliffs Of Moher IV

Cliffs Of Moher IV
Actually, I'm not going to file this in New Paintings or Landscapes or Ireland - because although it's signed, framed, and for sale (to the first person to get the bargain price of $490 to me) - I'm not entirely happy with the top left corner. Those distant cliffs need to be darkened in tone. That's what happens when you stare at the walls for Christmas.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Post 9/11 Era

A few days back the gallery-owner Paul Dorrell posted a few kind words about myself in his blog on

Six years, nine months, one week, and two days ago, I left Dublin to paint, not realizing I was headed for a depressed art market due to war, hurricanes, and gas prices. That day, as NATO bombers flew to begin bombing Kosovo, I was flying in the opposite direction to where previously I had weaved between hurricanes on a bicycle, and the price of petrol was irrelevant. It was the post-PostModernist era I was looking forward to.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A 12-Step Story of a Christmas Tree

Our Tree has mostly homemade ornaments: oven-baked sculpey, air-dryed model magic, ice-pop sticks, painted baubels, painted CDs, pipecleaners, a few key-rings, a very cool handmade card, and is topped by a pot-holder Quinn made on a mini-loom. There is also a friend's wedding bell souvenir, a dartboard, and a bicycle helmet. And there are three fake birds - Robins all the way from Dublin. The day after St. Stephen's Day, this happened:

1. The dog suddenly takes an interest in the Tree.
2. One of the fake birds has come alive.
3. The dog tries to get to the bird.
4. I put the dog in the back garden to protect the bird.
5. The bird does not want to leave the Tree.
6. Pointing out that there are Christmas decorations conviently located, I persuade the bird to leave the Tree.
7. The bird visits an Irish Street.
8. The bird goes back to the Tree.
9. Using Christmas reading, the bird is persuaded to leave the Tree again.
10. The bird finds freedom in the great outdoors.
11. I let the dog back in and she waits for another fake bird to come alive.
12. The dog waits all day for another miracle.

The astute will notice that the bird not only came to life but also changed from a Robin to a Sparrow.

And Here's The Stuff I Wrote Earlier:

  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • March 2007
  • August 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • July 2009
  • September 2009
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • October 2010
  • December 2010
  • September 2012
  • This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?