Today sees me writing to tell you about a challenge I have undertaken on Instagram.
Those of you who already follow me on Instagram will have seen quite a few references to #Aprilforartists #Aprilchallenge and #Pheobeganderart, appear in my postings over the last number of weeks. These tags directly relate to this challenge and currently day 16 is asking me about my largest challenge to date: My Most Courageous Moment !? EEK!
Firstly the fact that I have managed to do this for 16 consecutive days is, to my mind, quite impressive. Social media is a joy and a chore in equal measure, and having decided to be more mindful in how I use it, this challenge is the first prompted, and group organised activity, of this type that I have participated in.
The prompts that come from Phoebe Gander an Australian based artist who works primarily with fluid acrylic pours, have been at times random, frustrating, and enlightening. If you had to think about your career to date, could you talk to your peers or audience about your main inspiration? The tools you use how you started? Perhaps you’d care to share how you sell? could you talk about your vulnerable moments? your favourite work so far, or share the inner workings of your spontaneous or planned markings in sketchbooks? would you dare show your works in progress before you've decided yourself that they are ready to be viewed?????
Well that, my friends is what this challenge is causing me to do!
It sounds as if I'm complaining I am not, Phoebe Gander and her challenge are causing me to address plenty of things within my creative outlets that serve me and perhaps those that do not…. additionally it is giving me regular content for my Instagram page, and Pinterest account, and on top of that I share these posts to Facebook, and here I am writing about it on my blog….like I said social media can be a joy and a curse, but also a way to reach like-minded people, supporters and much-needed customers….
So for now, amongst other life and studio challenges I am grateful for this one...it is just forcing me to keep lines of communication open, were without these prompts I might not be so prolific in my social media use, especially now the children are on Easter holidays.
So with that in mind, I should sign off.
You're most welcome to visit and follow me on my Instagram here, and to pin my posts on my Pinterest account here, to see the answers I have given to these prompts and as always I welcome questions about my process, about my practice, and about my art... so feel free at any time and happy Easter to you all. I've just realised there is another upcoming challenge that applies to us all ....chocolate!!
Bye for now.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of being on the other side of a teaching table for once...I attended a lithography class with visiting artist Deidre Hierlihy from Ontario Canada at the Barracks Store in the wonderful Enniskillen Castle....its an amazing venue but I will come back to that in a minute!
So Deidre is visiting the Fermanagh/Omagh region on residency and I did mention her recently in a previous blog (see here) as I meet Deidre at the HAMBLY & HAMBLY showing of the successful, annual "1ft sq" exhibition, in which I was showing some of my wax & pigment monotypes from my #shapeoflifeseries that had travelled from the STRULE ARTS CENTRE in Omagh to the Hambly gallery in Enniskillen.
At the Hambly showing Deidre did a talk with slides about her work to date as part of a presentation by the local council and arts office by way of introduction into their (and their partners) ARTSLAND initiative focussing on inclusion.
Having seen Deidres wonderful printmaking skills first hand I was chomping at the bit when I saw the outreach programme of events for her visit included a number of print workshops, and especially her Lithography masterclass.
I arrived at the gorgeous castle site bang on ten o'clock for class, there was a small group of 6 of us, and Deidre herself, working from a large fit for purpose space within the inner courtyard know as the Barracks Store. After a brief introduction into the process, the materials involved and the small table top press Deidre proceeded to demo the print making process and before we knew where we were, we were away .... now traditionally litho is a stone printing process, laborious, masterful and precise...for the purposes of the class and with the onset of modern materials and greener practices we worked on polyester plates with oil based etching inks using soap, vegetable oil and coffee grounds as our cleaning agents ....the only chemical in use was citric acid and/or Gum Arabic for our water bath...good huh!
I won't go through the entire process here however there are great reference videos on youtube (as always) that will give you an idea of our process check HERE and look up printmaking with a Pronto Plate - its a brand of polyester plate, there are various plates, and brands of plates on the market for this process, so do check around the other references showing the process and of course if you are really interested do please look up Stone Litho - fabulous to watch and I imagine immensely satisfying to the print maker, there is a terrific intro video HERE .
We worked for several hours, I started with a very simple image, I was concerned with learning and understanding the process and not bothered in class about creating a perfect print...anyway my first attempt on newsprint was very telling! Not enough inking, my second was a mess, too much ink and not a damp enough surface...even the application of the link for Litho is different then my usual back and forth with a roller...you roll with pressure to ink and lightly roll in reverse to pick up any excess! Toothpaste was my white out when my inexperience left a finger print on the plate or the ink stained and left a blemish due to the lack of repelling surface water...but eventually I created a plate where the ink application was fairly even and I had learnt so much in the process of trying to get there!
An additional element to the day was an introduction to the use of chine colle to our litho print. This is the application of coloured or patterned papers (washi papers in this instance) adhered with the use of wheat paste to our inked printing plate, and put through the printing press to add colour to our final image. Again so many lessons learnt...the idea is to paste the coloured paper and lay it on your already inked plate with the paste side facing up...when run through the press the paper will adhere to your printing paper and the ink with print on top of this coloured paper as it adheres to the printing paper ....well that's the theory....but again inexperience showed, too much paste, forgot to work in reverse, colours used too dark to correctly see the ink overprinted on the papers.....but eventually we got there.
Whilst others were happy to create second prints after we broke for lunch, I was interested in the degreasing and additions I could add to this one same plate. I was also interested in pushing the image on a de-greased plate - would the faded original marks made (after degreasing) re-ink as shadows? What if I freshly drew over them in a gradated way, heat set and bathed and inked them again? Could I offset my print plate and ghost print onto the same paper print to create multiples of the image drawn....to what effect?? Needless to say others went home with a collection of prints they might not be ashamed to show off, not me, I left with a lot of mucky very averagely drawn prints but with a large and far reaching understanding of how this process works, its initial limitations (to my mind) as well and its extensive uses and possible adaptability in terms of my own interests and current practice.
How could I not have enjoyed the day, My many thanks must be extended to Deidre for her extensive knowledge and unwavering answering of my far too numerous questions. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Enniskillen Castle...Go Visit if you haven't already , its a wonderful sight and with a great coffee shop, visitor centre, 3 museums, a gallery and numerous displays on offer right by the water on the River Erne and with free onsite parking it's well worth the visit.
This class has encouraged me to sign up for others, a day like this refills the well..I'll keep you posted.
I know it's hard to believe it's the middle of April already and so much has happened not least I had some postcards in the Incognito sale for Jack and Jill, at the fabulous Solomon gallery in Dublin.
It is for such a wonderful cause, Jonathan Irwin and his family started the charity to honour baby Jack Irwin and to provide much needed assistance in helping the families of children with neurological difficulties. Sponsored by William Fry Solicitors, this is the third year incognito has run at the glorious Solomon Gallery , the sale in Dublin is now over however it is due to run in Cork shortly.
The irony for me is, as somebody who worked in William Frys on a six-month contract as a law Clerk with the fabulous Debbie, in the very early days of my administration career, this is a full circle acknowledgement of my career change & life cycle. Good huh! Now if you are familiar with my work, especially my print series #shapeoflife you may well easily spot my contributions...if you get to t.ake home one of mine DO let me know, its always fun to find where the work ends up and .. enjoy!
All funds from the sales of these artworks go directly to the Jack and Jill foundation so I would encourage you to watch out for the sale due to start shortly in the Lavit Gallery Cork....follow the link x N.
Exhibition VenuesLAVIT GALLERY, CORK – 17-18 May
Sale starts on 17 May, 10am – 7pm | 18 May, 10am – 4pm
(Preview – 16th of May, 10am – 5pm)
oLast week I had a change to normal procedure as I was invited to guest host a live art event that happens on the last Wednesday of every month, here in Monaghan Town at the beautiful and historic Markethouse Venue on Park Street. Scroll Down to see more photos from the night.
I’ll tell you all about how that went in a minute but first want to tell you about the group, the Monaghan Arts Network.
Back in 2014 I was invited to a discussion along with a number of people from the local creative community to explore the possibility of an Arts event or happening of some type, as there was a tiny pocket of money from the Monaghan Community Forum available through PeaceIII, if it could be so utilised. As you can imagine the ideas were plentiful and varied, it was however universally decided that a "showcase live event" for existing, emerging and professional creative’s, would provide the broadest opportunity for the existing community across the board. It was to be run by volunteers with minimal costs and its mission was to promote the breath of talent in the county across all genres and help establish and build a sustainable arts audience within the county.
The tiny pot of funding would see us through a couple of months if we did one event a month and that was to be the end of it.
Little did we know that the town and the county was so extensively filled with talent on such a broad scale…the events have been running every month now for 5 years, by volunteers and self funded by audience donations (each month the event is free to encompass all aspects of the community – donations are accepted in lieu of any official ticket cost) and occasionally business sponsored refreshments, and every month the Monaghan Arts Officer makes available the Arts Office in the Markethouse Building, a flurry of activity sees the upper floor converted from gallery space to theatre, along with professional sound and lighting rigs and our very own professional sound engineer.
Each event sees between 4 and 5 acts of all artistic disciplines perform, test new material, give talks, do readings, dance, sing, paint and entertain an average audience of 60plus people of all ages.
For the first two years of the Monaghan Arts Network I was the founding secretary of the group, I stepped on to the stage on two separate occasions over the years to showcase my own work around the time of my solo exhibitions and additionally on occasion I also hosted the event. A couple of years in and as I was getting busier in my own practice and as alongside of that my health was suffering, alas I stepped down from the committee.
This past Wednesday night the 27th of March 2019 was the official 5th birthday of the network. Founding member, ex Chair and Monaghan Community Forum Officer at the time of inception, Dara MacGabhann, gave the audience a brief outline of the networks achievements, not only in the running of the network events themselves, but in all the additional projects that have coincided over the years including the independent production of a showcase cd called “Splitting the stones” featuring musical artists who performed for the network. A wonderful jam packed book of visual arts from showcase participants entitled “Gifts of the Mind” (in which I feature). Two plays written, produced and performed by members of the committee and friends of the network, as part of the 1916 commemoration program for the county and numerous concerts, pop up events, outdoor activities and fundraising for the local community.
I was delighted to be invited back to guest host this special 5th birthday gig and happy to cheer them on when the current successful committee cut their celebration cake during the interval.
I had the pleasure of welcoming the audience last Wednesday and announcing the line up of acts for the night, alongside of Daras great celebration presentation on behalf of the network, we were to enjoy the musical talents of wonderful songstress Amelia McCormack, Visual Artist Eimhin Farrell and the ever brilliant and rockin Bronagh McCabe.
I was delighted to play my part over the years with the development of the Monaghan Arts Network, it has developed into a stalwart cultural calling for the up and coming, and the up and came within our community and with a 5 month waiting list to perform I can only see it go from strength to strength.
If you wish to become a member of the Monaghan Arts Network committee message them directly through their fb page linked below, perhaps you're a Monaghan based creative who wishes to showcase to a local audience…again use the link below.
I enjoyed the chance to catch back up with all the gang, to throw my tuppence worth in again and to enjoy the immense talent on offer on the night as always - thanks for having me folks, see you at the next one where I shall be sitting at the back glass in hand.
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Thanks. xx N.
Contemporary Visual Artist working in mixed media/encaustic based in the drumlins of Co.Monaghan. Ireland.