Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Poor Venus-my experience at the Uffizi...

So this was a very real experience I had while in Florence visiting the wonderful Uffizi Gallery.  See that wee purple heid in the centre there, that’s me. 

It had been a while since visiting a major museum/gallery, especially one in such a tourist hotspot... 


In between getting our corporate coffees, donuts and being  feckin surgically attached by the eye baws to all things digital, do we not even have the time to stand for a few minutes, A FEW MINUTES, to experience a life-times dedication of someone else’s work, especially after we’ve paid the price of the gallery ticket, supposedly making the choice to BE THERE.

I was ANNOYED.  And unnerved and ever so slightly freaked out.  I find it slightly robbotish and A.I-ish (and not in a fun DATA from Star Trek kind of a way) to watch people in mass so disconnected to the real world and so absorbed in something that still feels alien to me. 

I was doing a lot of drawing.  I was doing a lot of looking.  I like to read all the little stories and details of the paintings that interested me and because of this I notice things. 

I noticed people taking the few minutes (well done) to take the photos of their faves and the description, then almost immediately walking away because I guess they can bathe in that experience later. 

“But I thought they bought a ticket to the gallery for that day, to experience the work at that time” you say?

LISTEN STOOPID.  What’s the point in that when you can take a photo, sling yourself up online, tagging yourself at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and experience everyone experiencing how cultured and travelled you are? 

I noticed the floods of arms desperately raised above crowds of heads to take a photo from 6 feet away from the work, because God forbid you hang around to get a closer look, cos that takes time n’ that and you’ve got shit to do.

I noticed people getting annoyed at me because I was standing.  Because I was standing looking at the work of Leonardo and Miccy Angles and the mentalist Caravaggio and my big purple bonce happened to be in the way of their photo taking.  It’s weird cos, if you’re lucky enough to be able to use those dangly bits that hang off your hips you can walk left and right to position yourself better.  Guess they didn’t think of that.  Mind you, I was being rather bold, taking the time to admire work in a gallery.  How rude of me.

And I noticed that it wasn’t enough for the artwork to hold its own meaning, its own beauty.  I watched how visitors had to “add” to the work by putting themselves in the photo with the painting because God only knows, a 500 year old masterpiece by Michelangelo just sometimes isn’t enough.

I was one against about 50 twats at any one time who would rather experience the moment through the eye of their camera rather than through the eyes in their HEID.

And I GERRIT, I GERRIT!!!  Not everyone is experiencing art in the same way I do, because it means something more to me than just a bunch of foosty looking tossers in a frame glamorising armour and lace. 

And I get that want to share with those that can’t be there with you, but you can remember how you felt, you can remember the experience of being there, especially if you’re actively taking part.  You’ll never forget that.  And there is nothing more lovely than watching somebody getting carried away, re-living, re-telling their adventures.

My fear is that we’re diminishing the most basic of human experience, to the point where I don’t think we even realise.  IT’S SPOOKY.  Like, what’s with the way we read information?  Scrolling through screeds of text at a mad speed, are we focused, do we even know what we’re looking for?  And how the hell are we doing one job well when our focus seems split over so many tasks?

This digital age has upped the ante on the ol’ anxiety stakes and technically, our houses, our office spaces and our studios may have been prepared for it, but mentally, I don’t think we are.  Most of the world is bullshit and confusion.  But that glorious little percentage of experiences shared between friends and family or when  it’s just you buried in a room of art materials and you’re painting, just painting is real.  That’s what we have to work on, and it’s not found taking time panicking over how many followers you’ve not got on Instagram.

About 10 years ago I went through a year of counselling (CBT/Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) because I was kind of teetering on the edge of something that I didn’t like and I didn’t quite frankly know what to do.  You’ve got to face facts that if what you’re doing at any one time isn’t working or getting the results you want, you’ve got to try something else, so I went to the docs and was referred!

But it’s feckin tough, it’s fecking tough working out in this ol’ life what’s best for you and I think what helps is having more “real-life” experiences, because it feels more and more that we’re indulging in an alternate virtual reality.  I CANNAE HANDLE IT.  Maybe I would feel different if I had like a million digital people following my art-ha!  But I just have to do what makes me feel real and connected to what I do and standing in Florence drawing some of those awesome (“awesome” not as in, “you’re jumper is awesome today”) sculptural beauts, I couldn’t have felt more, quite literally, alive!


Yeah, I guess I’m just another twat trying to make sense of things.

And I guess, I would like folks to question why you do what you do, keep returning to that and focusing on it.   Maybe we have to fight a little more at the urge of posting another beautiful sunset because that moment will soon be gone and  wouldn’t we have been lucky just to have even been there.

(and by the way people if you need to speak to someone, do you know Universities and places of study often offer discounted rates or free counselling services as it’s often part of their training.  YOU MUST SPEAK TO SOMEONE, YOU KNOW WHEN THINGS ARE NOT RIGHT IN THE OL HEAD AND HEART DEPARTMENT ) x

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Brand, Spanky New Website!!!!

I have a brand new, shiny website:

It’s mainly focused around my portrait work, but I’ll be updating this with other work over time. So please have a look around, share if you like! And I would very much welcome any feedback on how the site works for you, or comments on the content of the site. I would like to have the best site I can muster so all comments are extremely welcome 

I'll be pretty much abandoning this blog while I have the website up and running as I'm more regularly doing daily updates on my other social media sites.

Thank-you x

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mini Studio Bliss!

Had this lovely moment over the weekend where I was just so utterly, utterly content and it was real bliss. The way that it hit was when I had to get up to grab something from the kitchen and on coming back to my space I just saw my space, MY space. The photo is what it was in that moment.
Nothing is exactly how I want it-I use a corner of the living room where I need to tidy things back after I’m done cos it’s a shared space, I’d like to be further down the line in terms of my own artistic experience, but I saw my stuff, my paints, brushes that I’ve had, some since school, little momentos given to me by those that I’m closest to that I keep around the desk, and painting, just painting, doing things in a way that only I can do. It was pure bliss.
You’ve only really got moments. You should suck it in and be in it at any one time, because if you’re not taking it in 100 percent are you really getting as much out of it as you could? I was totally in that moment 110!
I guess the whole point is, feck what everyone else is doing, how does that matter? Be inspired, suck it up, all them influences and passions, but concentrate 100 percent on what your in at that moment. It’s your time and that can’t ever be compared to anyone else’s because really, it’s only essentially important to you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

We, The Oceanographers

Sketched this during a gig these fellas did in the local Oxfam!  It was brilliant.  
This is a mixed media work, developed from the original line drawing, layering pastels and textures over the top.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Art Collective Chat!

I have FINALLY got this out of my SYSTEM!! Little bit of polishing needed here in the ol production, but I'll learn on the way. So I'd like to eventually get others involved, lets share the work we do and let others know about it, but first I have to work out how to do it first!
I'm planning to do a video to accompany the meetups we have as a way of letting folks know what we're up to. But I'll see what time allows!
Anyway, here's the first one. I'm cringing and sweaty palming in good measure putting it out there, but got to start somewhere, right!??

I'll continue to post this paintings work in progress

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Observational blind drawing...

Something I've been enjoying more and more is the practice of blind drawing.  It really frees you in your drawing, opens you up to a style or a way of working in your line that you may not have naturally come to.  It's easy to get frustrated with drawing when it feels you're trying to control the lind too much.  Blind drawing lifts you out from that.  Fun stuff!

Saturday, December 03, 2016


Oil pastels and oils.  I don’t want to over work these practice sketches, plan to keep them fairly loose. Infact, I kind of prefer some of the parts in progress rather than where I ended up.  Was working on this one for a couple of hours, far from finished but it’s a start!

Quick gesture studies...

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Character studies

Some character studies here developed from some observational sketches, experimenting with traditional and digital media...

Monday, May 02, 2016

Summer Walk

A little illustrative piece which was really fun to do.  This was pastel and pencil.  I think it's about time I explore settings with characters!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lone Bellow-Gig down at Wheelans, Dublin, July, 2015

It's scary, the last time I posted on my blog.  Crazy.  I post daily on other online networks but need to be a bit more disciplined with meself on the ol' blog front.  Anyway, here are a few posts on a fabulous little gig I went to last year!

Saturday, August 15, 2015


I feel like I can get my life back and get this painting out-of-my-MEEAAAANNND. It was driving me TITS. If I wasn’t to have stopped now I would have gone round in circles and carried on just painting numerous versions of it until it looked something like that mad fella above...
I might do a little tinkering. There’s bits that are a bit sloppy. But you won’t really see it because you’re looking at it through a monitor and not close up. I like to get right up close to paintings and I like them to work up close in the same way they would if you were looking at them from across the room. I don’t want stuff of mine to be hyper real. I don’t need it to be even that precise, but I want to feel I can really control what I’m doing in the right way.
At the minute because of resources, as in, I no way have the dosh to pay for someone to sit for me, all my stuff has to be from reference. I HOPE I can create work that even though it’s taken from reference, has some life in it. I never work from good quality photographs and I recommend you never do. If your photographs are too clean and precise, they tell lies about light and shadow, LIIIIEEEEESSSS I TELL YOU. Images in a photograph can look weird. Like sometimes if you really look, the way a camera has captured something kind of looks like a bad drawing. You can’t rely on that. You get sloppy and brain dead and copy what you see without thinking about what you’re doing.
You want to create a work of art not just a copy. I did an A4 portrait once from my one inch screen from my shitty Nokia phone. Worked out pretty good. I liked it anyway. It’s not always about the detail. It’s the undefined that can make a painting really exciting. I want to say to all those fellas creating hyper realistic CG humans, “BLUR THE EDGES MAN” Life ain’t got no edges. It’s all just light and shadow.
MY POINT WAS, that I kind of feel I don’t know what I’m doing at times when it comes to painting. If you can draw, any one of us can take a reference, copy it and guaranteed, it’ll look pretty decent. Because we’ve practiced the skill of observation, and how we interpret what we see and use our little monkey hands to do it.
But I haven’t painted enough to really explore how to handle paint in a cool way or using specific brushes and going back to this after such a long time (it’s one of my first paintings that I’ve really sat down to work on over a long period of time after about 7/8 years or so) you do this stuff and there’s no adjusting the brightness and contrast, or the colour balance or changing the brushes so they’re just right, or a quick control z because you just gone and feckin well used your dark brush to make a highlight on the collar forgetting it was your dark brush and now there’s a massive dark splodge where the white should be and no matter how you try you can’t seem to mix the right colours to get just the right lightness.
No, there’s none of that mcgubbins. You’ve got to work it out and it’s feckin tricky. I guess until I make hunners of money and I can afford to pay people to sit for me, I’ll always feel a little bit of a fraud. It’s partly the reason why I stopped painting years ago. I just thought until I can get more time, or someone to sit for a while, then that’s it.
But that was STOOPID.
I shouldn’t have stopped, you should never stop what you love doing because it doesn’t half take feckin ages to get back into it again.
Anyway, for the now, the job’s done.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Town and City sketches...

Some recent sketches over the past month, lurking and creeping around shady alleys with a sketchbook and pen...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sketchin the jam...

Some recent sketches over the past few weeks from recent jam sessions around the city...

Friday, April 03, 2015

Many faces of Thom...

These were some sketches I did a while ago.  Of me, in the mirror.  My goal was to draw as fast as possible, but I really loved how they came out!  They're not really like the way I would draw at all.  I think they've got a real Quentin Blake-ish feel to them.  

I like setting myself little drawing challenges, creating a sketch in a couple of seconds, blind drawing, left-handed drawing, etc, you can produce some really interesting stuff.
It's allowing yourself to let go of the control, allowing yourself to be a bit looser, to roughen up.  

Going for a hike...

I caught sight of this fella and I just loved his whole posture.  He was very, "trudgy", very heavy footed.  He had such a great movement about him!
When I got home I started making some sketches and came up with this.  I really wasn't sure what I prefered, the tonal one or colour.  So I've posted them both here...

Thursday, February 05, 2015

2015-That is SHOCKING! (Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year Update)

Sheesh.  How bad is that.  God Almighty.  Just about a year since I last updated on the ol' blog.  BAD ARTIST ME.

I'm posting more regularly on Facebook and Twitter sites where you can drop by and say hello.

Anyway, here is a painting I had done for the second series of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year.  (I was in the first series, in the Dublin heats).  It's a success in that it was probably the fastest painting I have ever done.  I finished it in three weeks working every other evening after work.  But it's not an exciting painting.  Certainly worth doing though.

It's now been painted over with another painting.  Unless I think a painting is a winner, I ain't keeping it!  I'll post that painting soon.

But some lovely news over Christmas time, I was featured in Sky Arts, "Little Book of Portraits" which was published to accompany the series.  64 artists were chosen to be represented from the two series so I was delighted to be part of it.

The book features a portrait from each artist alongside the judge’s comments. It really is a lovely little book with such varied styles in portraiture.

Its £15, selling at all major book retailers. And as far as I know it’s already achieved “best seller” on Amazon!

Fandabbydozie.  A lovely start to the year.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Amber At 6 Months

My wee niece, again from #100happydayschallenge Day-44!...