Friday, August 30, 2013

Light and white


I am growing mint in a cup (fingers crossed) and looking forward to using these hand-printed napkins (thanks again for these beautiful gifts, Sabrina and Christoph!). Kitchen roll is banned from my kitchen - though I do use it when teaching painting -, and while I keep a packet of paper napkins in the drawer, especially for meals featuring ingredients likely to cause permanent stains, I use proper cloth napkins 90 per cent of the time.

My house has been painted white - badly needed it -, and I have added gladioli and lemon balm (both gifts as well; I am very lucky) to the potted plants outside my door. Everything feels fresh and light and adds to the lovely blank-canvas-feeling of this time of the year.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

72 summers

"There are only 72 summers in one lifetime" - this sentence jumped out at me in a piece by Hilary Burden about her decision to move to rural Tasmania after years working in London (her book is called A Story of Seven Summers: Life in the Nuns' House). 72 - more perhaps or less, but even 100 seems a pretty small and precious number.

Previous summers in my life passed by almost unnoticed in a daze of personal problems, rain and unusual cold and staying indoors too much as a result, but this year we got a proper summer, both in Ireland and Germany.

A couple of years ago in the Avoca shop in Dublin I was leafing through a whimsical book about summer pursuits. It conjured up a picture book atmosphere of picnics and garden parties and walks in the countryside, summery foods and drinks, sun-drenched beach life - I remember a pang of regret at not having done the majority of the things it described in a long time, magnified into a panic of  "I am not living my life". This year I made a point of really noticing and drinking in summer's flora and light and general summerness. I was able to wear all my summer dresses, attended a wedding in a beautiful setting in Shropshire, had impromptu barbecues in the garden, swam in the sea for much longer at a time than the rest of the year allows and jumped through the water spray of the lawn sprinkler at my mom's with my younger sister, drank rosé (my sister wrote a beautiful post about the colours of her summer) and water with fresh mint and ate homegrown vegetables.

Now it feels like autumn is coming and summer was too short, but at the same time I am glad to be living somewhere with four distinct seasons.

- I loved this interview with one of my favourite writers, Deirdre Madden. Just when I am pondering here how time goes by so relentlessly fast, it is reassuring to learn she thinks "one gets more cheerful as one gets older" (she attributes the melancholy of her earlier novels in part to the fact that "one tends to be quite gloomy when you're young".)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Art highlights

 In the Rivera Room at the DIA, with sunlight streaming in

This summer I was lucky to experience two art highlights:

- I got to see Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals, something that had been on my bucket list (which exists loosely in my head and across various notebooks; I have never written one as such). It was impressive, and the new audio iPad tour is worth listening to in full.

- Earlier in the summer a friend invited me to a film about the wonderful artist Pauline Bewick. It explored her creation The Yellow Man (and her Grey Man, representing a darker side, who emerged from sessions with a Gestalt psychoanalyst) and was absolutely beautiful.

Yellow Man Grey Man is available from the director Maurice Galway's website. He currently has a gorgeous picture of Pauline from the film on his home page. There is more information, including a short video, in the news section of Pauline Bewick's website. 

"It's rather sad really. I was searching for the perfect society. That's why I went to The South Pacific and that's why I invented The Yellow Man. He to me is perfection. I created The Yellow Man because if our society were made up of Yellow Men it would be a marvellous place." ~ Pauline Bewick


On a much smaller - but personal - scale, I was delighted to come home to the second issue of Skylight 47, a poetry publication, which included one of my paintings. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A little preview: Jumbo illustrations

I took an unintended break from blogging, as my mom and I went to the States for two weeks to visit a friend, and Blogger wouldn't let me log in from over there because I was signing in from an "unusual location". I appreciate their efforts to keep my account secure, but the step I had to take to prove I was me involved getting a code sent to my phone, which, being of the old-fashioned kind, wasn't working either (nor was my work e-mail). I decided it was a good idea to be disconnected.

We got back today, and despite getting no sleep on the plane, I am buzzing. This summer is turning out to be a busy one, four countries within a month. I have so many plans for the next few days/weeks/months, I don't know where to start (travelling, even just the being-in-motion element of it, always does that for me: new perspectives, enthusiasm, ideas).

In the meantime, here are four illustrations I did for a children's story written by Lionel Gallagher (I have shared snippets before). This book is in the process of being printed and is the first in a trilogy about a baby (later teenage) elephant's adventures.

These are photos of the original pencil sketches. For the book, our graphic designer Conor Gallagher had the idea to colour-code the animals with subtle washes, which worked out beautifully.

from Jumbo Wants to be a Hippo