I have been really enjoying painting with Gouache, it is a creative practice that energises me, puts me in the zone and fuels me. I think it’s because with every pigmented brush stroke I switch off for a while and end up feeling more grounded and productive to keep on trucking with other projects in the works. I think I needed a little bit of something different, a bit of oomph, a bit of something to physically get my hands and desk dirty and this has been the key, that along with the transcending coos of Goldfrapp is a proper match. The last painting in this bunch being a quick painting study of Castle Hackett Hill where I spent a day back in Ireland high on the mountain overlooking the haunted Castle Hackett mansion veering below, more on that soon.
I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
A previous Kick About saw me reflect upon the uncanny nature distilled around my Dads basement with all its cellar dweller spiders and porcelain dolls. This same peculiar feeling residing in an old creaky house that has always felt under construction and will never be finished transpires throughout its mammoth 4 floors.
I stayed at my dads house in Ireland one night when the show was falling like thick ashes and as me and my brother drove to my Dads looking towards the blinding kaleidoscope of falling snow, I knew the thick snow was going to up the ante and stillness of my Dads with it feeling like a cotton blanket of insulation that quietens all. The fountain having an a new ashy extrusion and the cement lions on the pillars having a new white beard.
The only working shower is for some reason in the upstairs hallway with the blue room in particular feeling very ominous. There is a bright orange sink in the corner of the blue room with the buzz of a magnificent yellow shaver light that bounces off the walls and the vanity with the room being crammed with bric a brac and photos of our past; My Dad is a collector of sorts and takes pride in all the stuff he has collated throughout his travels, a story attached to each.
Above the door in every bedroom is a window and as my room felt crammed with things the only suitable place for the bed was near the door with the eerie window above it, as a young lad I always perceived some thing peering over those windows and watching as I slept, or tried too; the thing would move with the sound of the bubbling fish tank heard down the landing of the stairs with the light no longer as the black catfish cemented to the side of the tank watched on.
I ventured down the road to our neighbour Jonjo’s yard, hot spiced rum in hand where me and my cousins used to get up to all sorts of mischief and where the remnants of hideouts in the trees still remain – a nail here and a piece of weathered wood there. The yard lit in a brilliant orange light to illuminate the little huts like a beacon where calfing sheep or cattle used to give birth in the bitter Irish cold. The falling snow over my camera lens making it look like a bursting sun.
I’ve always appreciated the creepiness of my Dads house, it always sparks my imagination and even through it might seem unfriendly It’s just a facade, its warm, old and careworn. Although the basement is another kettle of fish, with it’s low ceilings you are likely to feel a sticky spider web stuck to your face. Just don’t turn the lights off, things come alive when you do that down there.
I have always wanted to learn how to use cinema 4D as its stylistic animation possibilities seem endless, so I made these cute little houses as a starting off point and couldn’t help but turn them into sims houses with the famous green plumbob and using the parallel camera to render.
I had many options with this kick about as Ireland’s heritage is teaming with Celtic knot and rope references in art jewellery and clothes. I decided to do a mash up of different perspectives, one inspired by the Aran weather, Aran given its name comes from the picturesque Aran islands off Galway Bay was a sweater knitted for the fishermen that relied on the livestock around the Atlantic Ocean. The Jumpers were made from the sheep that populated the fields in the islands and retain their natural oils meaning they are water repellent – Ideal for Irish weather! and because the sweater is water repellent it meant that the fishermen wouldn’t feel the chill from getting wet while out fishing.
The stitches in an Aran sweater are used to signify different important factors such as the diamond stitch representing the fields in the Aran Islands and wishes health and success while the cable stitch represents the Fishermans ropes and are a promise of safety and good luck while out fishing. The combination of different stitches are divided into different clans for each family name of kinship in Ireland. Around the borders of my designs is the diamond stitch which is central to the specific Daly clan Aran sweater, with the overall theme of these designs trying to reflect Ancient Celtic Artwork including the triple spiral or Triskele where the Irish believes everything happens in 3’s and can symbolise the mental physical and spiritual self or birth death and rebirth. You can read more about the history of the Irish Aran Jumper here as well as the symbolism of Knots in Irish Celtic Art here
I was watching the very beginning series of Tom and Jerry with my niece and was completely blown away by the gorgeous watercolour background paintings while Tom and Jerry run amok in their usual debauchery. So inspired by the paintings I have decided to adopt a similar more analogue and painterly approach, I think bringing down the complexity of many previous attempts of skies that I painted brings more attention and focus to the foreground elements and works better, that same yellow and pink that Tom and Jerry adopted works well for the Meadow scene, which is a pinnacle part of the film and where the beauty of nature of this world needs to really hit home.
〰️ Tom and Jerry Background Paintings 〰️
I was spoiled for choice with this kick about with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes of all the flora and vegetation, feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away, mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion, while twigs, branches and petals looking like spores after some careful manipulation. suffice to say I loved this kick about and loved editing, warping and colour correcting a surplus of photos from recent adventures around Ireland to get a photomontage and mimic Ernst Haeckel’s inspiring Illustrations. I have a real hankering to go on and on with creating more designs like this.
Another Kick About has been unfurled over at Reds Kingdom with many delightful offers from artists all over. I decided to focus on a story that is well known around my home town of Knockatee, Dunmore which is that of Fairy Hill.
Fairy Hill is a hill that overlooks the emerald green of Ireland, The hill always felt like a picturesque place out of a film, it is covered in wildflowers with a swing fashioned out of old frayed rope and driftwood, suspended sturdily above the canopy of trees. You can hear the river sinking gently lapping nearby with grinded down little paths that meander around the fairy and chestnut trees. To the east you can see Dunmore castle peeping out from the swatches of high trees as you swing away.
The story of Fairy Hill went that builders tried to build Dunmore castle on Fairy Hill but the vivacious fairies would awake from their slumber in the dead of night, knock the stones down to the ground and did so every night to save their homes. The builders decided to build the castle down the road on a less magnificent hill which is now where Dunmore castle is seen.
But these stories are not mere wives tales, they are built into our history and heritage, So much so I am sharing an article here dated back to 1912 “On the History and Antiquities of the Parish of Dunmore” which goes into detail about Fairy hill and the aforementioned story that I grow up with.
“The tradition  preserved by old Treacy from the mouth of the poet O’Coman, is that the noble Haiste,  the son of Membric, a distinguished warrior of the Welsh nation, commenced erecting a castle a short distance to the west of where Dunmore Castle now stands, but that the fairy who presides over the place, Mor Ni Mananain, not wishing that he should erect his fortress there, destroyed by night as much as his masons had erected by day, and that she continued to do so for several nights until Haiste consulted a Magician, who told him that Mor-Ny-Mhanannain did not wish him to place his fortress there, but that she would be willing to allow him to erect it on the site of her own fort, and Hasty, taking the advice of the Sage, and seeing the old Dun a favourable position, immediately commenced to build there, and More, being delighted to view so lofty a pile towering over the humble mounds of her ancient fortress, suffered no fairy to interrupt the work.“
Ireland is bursting with stories like this. Planning permission for motorways have been scrapped because a pesky fairy tree is in its route and needs to be cherished. Irish people have all grown up with the stories of the Sluagh, the wailing banshee and of course the fairies, It is something I take pride in and something that I think sparked my imagination when I was a wee tot, Maybe these stories of paranormal oddities is why people view the Irish as a bit mad!? or maybe we refuse to grow up; I’ll take the latter.