I painted this piece as a submission to a group show, from which it was rejected. But rather than hang it up in a closet and cry, I decided to share it on Instagram and write about it. I felt so strongly about the why of this piece that I didn’t want to let it remain a question mark. Then, I sent it to the gallery, where the right person saw it, heard my words, loved it, and went home with it.
You can read the why below if you like. Fair warning though, it’s a bit of a rant or perhaps a call to arms is more apt…
In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche compares women to birds, no cats, no they’re cows at best, Oh and they’re incapable of friendship, too. You’ll notice that the cow is dead and so is this idea. The dog, that bitch is looking forward. An unclothed giant holding out a vulnerable tiny figure, inspired by, but unlike Goya’s work, Saturn Devouring His Son, one is not devouring the other, but rather propping her up so that she, too, might devour her spectators. Not only are the viewers spectators of the painting, but the figures within the painting are spectators of the viewers. The old women silhouetted against the mural of putti figures and staring women in diaphanous gowns are looking on the whole thing with the bemusement of experience and a skepticism of the future. Soft and partially hidden figures cloud the background and peer out into the world cautiously. As far as I can tell, Venus is a somewhat dead comparison for most women in the world today. Most women’s lives resemble very little of anything traditionally goddess like. Traditionally, Venus has been for the people, but art historically, she’s been a docile nude, a figment of man’s ideal, an ideal which has very little to do with reality. She’s due for an update.
A friend and fellow artist commissioned me to make him a picture of anything I wanted. And I painted The Witching Hour. If you’re curious about the inspiration for the piece, I’ve shared my thoughts below. If you’re the type who would rather not know, then please read no further.
A creative work, at the beginning, is a fragile creature. One’s creative vision is easily bullied and overwhelmed by innocent everyday matters…laundry, groceries, the doorbell, etc…Especially during the early stages of a work, when it’s loose and unformed, one must batten down the hatches against innocent distractions. There will always be laundry, but not always your idea. It may slip away into the recess of your mind, and lie dormant for thirty years or even disappear altogether, only to be recognized and seen again in someone else’s work, someone who protected and served the idea.
The idea may come to us at night, at the bus stop, when our hands are full, when we are in the throes of creating a different work; we must pause and make note of it or it will flounder without the structure of our attention.
In The Witching Hour, our character, though disheveled and tired, is doing the protective work. He’s guarding the bright light of a fresh idea, a firefly, from the innocent everyday disturbances, a cat. Perhaps he’s heading towards an open window to inspect the idea in the moonlight, or perhaps he’s determined to grant it freedom, which in our metaphor, is its creation.
The title, The Witching Hour, comes from a favorite childhood book of mine, The BFG, by Roald Dahl.
“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.”
This excerpt surfaced, because the main character, Sophie, was awake to notice this hidden hour. When everyone else was sleeping, she was paying attention and therefore open to a different vision and rather than attend to the reasonable and innocent necessity of sleep, she discovered a beautiful new world.
This portrait will be in London from May 10-25th at Mall Galleries on Trafalgar Square. I am beyond excited
to be a part of this exhibition and can’t wait to meet some incredible portrait artists and see
their work in person. Learn more about the RP here. And visit this link for a full preview of the exhibition with prices.
A Victorian Muse, 60x46cm, oils, birch panel, Victorian toilet seat
This piece came about after perusing an old antique shop on Flood Street here in Galway. I came across what I thought had been a mirror, which in fact, turned out to be a Victorian toilet seat. And I knew immediately that it had to be mine. And so, this painting, evoking the wonderful feeling of the first pee of the day, came into existence.
Currently, this piece is for sale at the Kildare Gallery.
Ah, it’s been a mad two months…We’ve moved from Dublin to Galway, we’ve hosted family from abroad, hiked and painted in West Cork, and I’ve even seen my first burlesque show, which was unexpectedly hilarious. I loved it.
I’ve been searching out my new rhythm here and I’ve got to say, I’m enjoying the Galway pace. Up next, I’ve got an exceptionally fun portrait to do. And I can’t wait to finish a couple of commissions I’ve got up my sleeve.
Do follow me on Instagram to keep up!
For this one I decided to use a limited palette of warm tones, keeping it soft and atmospheric with a touch of romantic nostalgia.
My latest painting finished.
You may have noticed my lack of visibility online over the past several months, well, now you can blame Paper Panther Productions. In May of 2016, I innocently agreed to work on an intriguing new venture conjured up by the wonderful Carol Freeman, one of the legs of the Paper Panther tripod.
Alongside Carol, three other stalwart painters, and several animators, we tackled a 6 minute short film, called The Bird and The Whale. When I hopped on board, work was already underway on a couple of different scenes. Here’s a timelapse of my first shot: The Storm.
This beautiful beast of a short film, consisting of thousands of paintings, is not quite finished. But it’s due in the next few months and I cannot wait to see it.
Please have a look at their page to see the work in progress, a teaser trailer, and a few studio shots, not to mention all the other marvelous projects by Paper Panther.