An Port is a favourite destination of mine and we visited it this year on the second day of our workshop. Port has a very special atmosphere. It is said that the whole village was abandoned at the time of the famine in the middle of the 19c leaving the houses to fall into ruin. It must have been a very hard existence – what appears picturesque to those visitors who make their way down and leave again, the reality was in fact a harsh existence.
On the first morning we spent an hour on Fintra Beach before moving on to St John’s Point. At Fintra our first exercise was to walk and make marks as we go, seaweed, stones, footmarks, pawmarks, feathers, waves – anything that took our eye. These sketches ended up as scribbles in most cases but served the purpose of honing hand-eye coordination.
St John’s Point
On the final morning we had a ceramic tutorial from the potter Alan Snape. At the start of the holiday he had asked everyone to think of five or six motives for a mini frieze. Always daunting at first the final results were awesome to the delight and surprise of all the novice ceramicists!
Our final destination was at the stunning Muckross Head with wind and waves and foam – an inspiration for any artist of paint or words.
Thank you to all who took part – to the tutors, the companions, the helpers. Thank you for all your work – sketches , paintings, poems and most of all – thank you for the craic!
Through the media of paint, glass and photography Rosie McClelland and Pamela Greene each explore the complex issue of identity. Recognising that identity has may facets and is subject to reinvention, their work explores the relationships we form with certain people, landscapes or objects and why these draw us close on emotional, spiritual or physical levels that we do not always understand. Drawn to the imperfections in the human condition and in nature, McClelland’s and Greene’s work recognises that it is in connecting with these fault lines that we find our DNA
‘Little Blue’ oil on linen 50 x 40cm Rosie McClelland
The condition of self is transitory, never fixed. Our position within society, family and workplace can change radically throughout our lives. It is with this in mind that I approach my work which is first and foremost intimate and reflective, a personal response to my subject matter.
My chosen method of working is figurative, weaving underlying abstract forms into reality and, in the process, hopefully creating a sense of presence – a vibration. The study of the human body, an ongoing fascination throughout my life, returns time and again as does the art of still life which is about much more than the objects it portrays and more often than not represents human relationships. Another repeating motif is the tethered boat, so long a symbol of the spiritual, at times swaying on choppy seas, times on still waters portraying a reflection of the self.
Woven into this process is the acceptance of faults, fractures and imperfections as it is only through a holistic view of reality that the truth and the real self are revealed. Rosie McClelland
Iceland Series ‘Frozen Sea’ dia 30cm depth 18cm Pamela Greene
Through the media of kiln-formed glass, photography and poetry I explore my primary interest, identity. I am particularly drawn to the identity of landscape and why many of us make emotional or spiritual or physical connection with wild and inhospitable places whose beauty is often savage and transient.
My current work focuses on the landscapes of Iceland and Ireland, sustained sources of inspiration. For my ‘Iceland’ series I chose to work with glass for its versatility: its ability – like ice – to transmit and reflect light, its reaction to fire, and, like the landscape of Iceland, its strength and vulnerability. These properties make it the perfect medium to try to reflect the spirit of a landscape whose identity is shaped by ice and fire.
My glasswork is supported by photographs of Donegal, a landscape similar to that of Iceland. In these I have sought to capture the essence of a fractured and fragmented landscape where it sometimes seems that the identity and history of our ancestors can be read in the faces and fault lines of the rock formations.
Working with glass and photography has enabled me to explore how landscape, actual and remembered, shapes our sense of who we are and where we come from. Pamela Greene
On Saturday 12 Nov 2016 10am – 4pm, I shall be tutoring a life drawing workshop in the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn. Please contact the Island for details
superimposed 2 minute charcoal sketches 0n cartridge paper – warming up time
35 minute charcoal sketch on cartridge paper – fun with mark-making!
2 hour oil sketch on Arches oil paper
This is the first time I’ve used Arches’ oil paper and I must say I rather liked it. Not what you would call a “fast” surface and the paint did tend to get absorbed by the paper quite a lot but much preferable to the usual oil paper block which I find slippery and difficult to build up layers in one sitting. The background colour is Attrament black from Schminke – a favourite of mine at the moment!
In December 2011 I had three small super 8 films transferred to DVD. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find on them but I did know they were taken by my parents in the 60s. Actually I had hoped I would find a reel with my sister’s wedding filmed in 1969 as I had a funny (guilty!) feeling that it was rather foolishly put in my care. What did emerge, however, was, firstly, a trip my folks made to Canada to visit an aunt who had emigrated to Winnipeg many years before from dad’s “aul country” of Armagh Brague. The next contained some odd bits and pieces obviously filmed to record every day life in the McClelland household the quality of which had so badly degraded it was frustrating and almost painful to watch through the snowstorm and weird colours which had replaced the old familiar faces of yore. The third was filmed at my sister’s graduation in 1964 outside Queen’s Whitla Hall in Belfast.
There she was – my sister – a young, newly qualified teacher, fashionable in her navy chiffon shift dress with her hair piled high in a black bouffant – stunning (as she still is) walking towards the camera and beside her Mary, my mum, dressed to the nines in the outfit she had worn to my brother’s wedding the year before! She was always stylish.
Inspired by the Gerhard Richter exhibition I had visited in Tate Modern shortly before I had had the films transferred, I decided to paint my mother from the archive and this is the result: (with apologies to Gerhard Richter!)
I took a few photos of the process and am sharing them here.
The first sitting is always scary – exchanging a few awkward niceties with someone you have never met before and then starting to sketch them.
As if it isn’t bad enough sketching in front of people let alone someone who doesn’t know you!
At this stage it’s sometimes more about interacting with your subject and the drawing is an analytical study more than creating a “likeness”. (just as well!)
15 min charcoal line sketch
At the end of the sitting, a couple of nervous sketches and a batch of photos later I get to work on the next stage – tonal sketches and layouts for the final composition.
This is a head and shoulders commission so I worked to the same dimensions as the canvas itself.
Looking at this now after several weeks more of studying the subject, I can’t believe how unobserved it was.
Below is a reworked study – much more satisfying!
Willow charcoal on hot-pressed watercolour paper
However next stage is transferring the image to the canvas. I prefer to work on stretched linen for these portraits and I often start with a terre verte underpainting.
This is when I request a second sitting and, using raw umber and white , I start a tonal painting.
Time for dabbing on some colour. Now the terre verte underpainting comes into play. The skin tones resonate immediately with the green contrast:-
The subject was to be painted in his academic gown and hood and I felt these would work best with a dark background:-
In the course of painting – studying the planes, lines and characteristics of the face I tend sometimes to over emphasise them creating an image which looks older than the subject really is so this is the point where another sitting is necessary to reduce this effect and check skin tones, hair and costume colours – also realised I had major corrections to do around the mouth area :-
Final stage – waiting for approval from the person who commissioned the painting – another scary moment but thankfully they liked it!
Portrait of Dr Ivan Pollock
Headmaster of Campbell College Belfast 1987 – 2005