Tuesday 31 March 2015

In memory of Dad. A long time in the making

This pencil drawing of my Dad was a long time in the making. Not the actual drawing time, which was about four hours, but years coming to terms with his loss.

Martin Joe Rafter      1931 - 2007

Generations - a tale of electronic woes.

This oil on canvas was painted from a reference photograph and of course there is a story behind it. One of the problems with storing photographs electronically is the potential for hard disk failure. This reference photograph became blocky and pixellated for some bizarre reason (my fault for not printing it anyway). As my wife loved the photo, I used an editor to put the blocks back in the correct position (like a jigsaw) but was unable to restore it perfectly, then I made this large (without the blocks) painting of it.

The moral is, print your photographs to ensure domestic harmony.

Generations - Oil on Canvas 32 x 40 inches

Watercolour from over the county boundary

This little watercolour picture is of Erke church & graveyard. Erke is just over the county boundary in Kilkenny. The church is sadly now a ruin but the graveyard is still in use.
I spent about three hours painting at Erke one morning last September and not one car passed the whole time I was there.

Erke Church & graveyard

Monday 30 March 2015

Keeping a sketch book

I have been keeping a sketch book for a number of years now. I mainly use it while waiting in the car while on the school run.

A lot of the time the drawings are not particularly successful but the daily practice is invaluable as it forces you to think about how objects relate to each other and also how to commit as much information as you can to the paper in as short a time as possible.

Here are a small selection of drawings from my sketch books.

Farmyard at Westfield, Castletown - Pencil drawing 30 minutes on A5 paper

View at Westfield, Castletown - Pencil drawing 30 minutes on A5 paper

View from school using ink liner pens on paper A4 approximately 2 hours
The school gate - Pencil drawing on A4 paper 5 minutes

 And finally:
View at Lahinch Co. Clare - Watercolour pencils on A5 paper 1 hour

One man and his tractor

This 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas was a a while in the making. I started it from a photographic reference a few years ago and left it in a corner of the studio to dry. Eventually I found the oil sketch again and worked it up to a complete painting.

The Ferguson TE20 holds fond memories for me. The forestry in the background of this painting is near Camross village (boy I've travelled far).

Sunday 29 March 2015

Something a little different for me

Here are some small watercolour pictures of birds. They not my usual thing to paint but I enjoyed creating the pictures.

Barn Owl - Watercolour on Arches rough paper 9 x 12 inches

Master of all he surveys - Watercolour on Arches rough paper 9 x 12 inches

Another watercolour. View of Castletown Mill

This time an alternative view of the old flour mill on the river Nore in my home village of Castletown. August 2014

Limited palette oil painting of mill and weir at Castletown village

Public seating is provided at the weir in Castletown as it is a popular local picnic and swimming spot.
There is also a fantastic walk along the river Nore. The walk is half a mile or so long with otter and kingfisher to be seen if you are lucky.

I just needed a travel easel and small oil painting box to complete this picture. I used a limited palette and finished this painting over two morning sessions on days with brilliant sunshine and rain showers. (Typical Irish summer weather)

First is the quick charcoal sketch

The completed picture oil on canvas 50cm x 70cm

For the week thats in it

I know that Kilkenny hurling causes much pain in Laois. Being a Laois man myself I can only jealously look on and admire the wonderful skill of Henry Shefflin. So for the week thats in it, with Henry announcing that he is retiring from inter-county hurling, here is a commissioned acrylic painting.

Henry Shefflin & T.J. Reid acrylic on canvas  32 x 40 inches

Saturday 28 March 2015

Plein Air paintings

Being Irish we often overlook the beauty of the landscape and built heritage that surrounds us. My native county, Laois is rich in suitable locations for the artist to paint. Being located in the south Irish midlands the landscape is primarily pastoral in nature tending towards more dramatic mountainscapes in the Slieve Blooms. Over the next while I will post some of the work I have produced in various mediums when I have managed to escape from the studio. I hope to showcase some of the often overlooked sights of county Laois and environs.

One of the simple joys of using watercolour paints for Plein Air work is that they allow you to travel light. I use a lovely Winsor & Newton Cotman half pan set when out and about. Chuck in a few brushes, paper and water and I am ready to paint without the back strain of lugging heavy kit.

Here is a view of the Maltings and Swallows Quarter at Donaghmore painted in a few hours on a beautiful warm day in September 2014 using the above setup.