Thursday, February 26, 2015


Poetess on a Curved Road
oil on panel, 40 x 50 cm, 2015

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I cleared my studio and got new surfaces in January and since then I'm slowly developing the surfaces with layers of marks.  I have many ideas I want to work on in the future. I have always wanted to paint more nocturnal scenes and over the Winter I spent a lot of time walking the streets of a few small towns in Ireland, taking photographs. So I hope to create a few nocturnal paintings in the near future.

Can you describe your working routine?

I can only paint in daylight. Once dusk arrives I clean my brushes and leave. There is no such thing as a waste of time in the studio. Every single mark I make is relevant even if it is painted over, and helps to energise the painting later on. 

Every time I make a painting there is an intense feeling of finality, I give it everything I have like it's the last painting I'll ever make or it's the last exhibition I'll ever have. So I become depleted several times throughout the year and need to stop painting. I use this time to gather source material for further work and compose paintings in my mind. When the creative energy is high I am in 'outpouring mode' and I paint a lot. After an intense period of painting and I am exhausted, I am in 'intake mode'. Between the two modes I am constantly working. Like being asleep and being awake, they are both equally important.

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I have a small, quiet studio space with a bright window just off O'Connell Street in Dublin, seconds away from everything. It takes me a long time to get used to a space, the space has to be blessed with work created there. Then it becomes a sacred space, as private as your own bedroom. I love the moment when I close the door of my studio away from the noise of the city and sink into the silent world of creativity. I love simply being there, it's where I truly feel myself. I always feel a slight ache of longing whenever I have to leave my studio and I take one long last glance into the room before I lock the door.


Work in progress. Painting a landscape over a portrait

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Since I was a child I like to sit or stand in nature, after a while things start to happen, like a story unraveling before your eyes. I go into a meditative state. I try to capture the atmosphere of a place where I once stood, so the viewer is now standing in my place. 
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Last year I began to push myself into making larger works and stop making very small works. It is my natural inclination to make small, personal works. I love the intimacy of being able to hold the painting in my hands. I have found it very difficult to translate these intimate marks to a much larger surface. I have also enjoyed making very small works as a warm up to larger works. The surfaces I am currently working on are much larger than what I am comfortable working on.

Work in progress

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
It depends on what I am trying to achieve with each painting. Certain ideas demand more experimentation. I like to sand surfaces back, add texture such as beeswax and sand, or pour paint onto the surface while working on the floor.
I love painting over my paintings, all that history is there in the surface. 
work in progress
What does the future hold for this work?
I have been invited to have a solo exhibition in England and in Denmark but I haven't committed to anything yet and feel I prefer to keep this year free. I can only make work just for the sake of it. I believe the quality and strength of work will invite the right venue for it.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
More information can be found on my website
Cardinal, oil on panel, 25 x 35 cm, 2014

Monday, February 16, 2015



Sienna around, 2014, 31x49cm, acrylic on plywood

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I have been working for some time on a large painting on paper, getting my head around the scale of it. This is my third attempt and the most difficult one so far because I really stripped away any acquired method and preconception to allow something fresh to emerge (hard and slow work). Besides that I continue to work on a couple of smaller paintings on wood, using much the same approach and materials I have developed over the last few years.

Untitled, 2015, 28x32cm, acrylic and paper on plywood with plywood lintel
Can you describe your working routine?

I don't have one unfortunately! I have a full-time job four days a week so I aim for 30 to 40 hours painting time over about 6 sessions per month. Not a lot. Slow learning curve.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is quite small and while I do have some natural light it is rather ”atmospheric" and I need to switch the ceiling halogen lights on to be able to see sufficiently. I have two desks and several trestles and I switch rather haphazardly between them and a couple of shelves to paint, put my tools and materials, cups of coffee etc. on. It's quite an easy space to heat which is a first as studios go - no more blue fingers in winter!

The first of larger painting of three, in progress –
the finished work looks quite different, see below

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc..

A close friend asked me not long ago "what do you want from your work"? Key question, right? This was my answer and it still holds true right now, being recent, though as we all know these assessments change as we keep evolving:

In the studio I want the painting to develop freely and become something unanticipated. I want it to be more than me so I have to follow rather than lead. This only works when I am feeling strong and self-confident - then I am more daring and cope better with the necessary ambiguity and planlessness of the process and I am able to make the more difficult choices and be persistent. The painting is best when it has an anxious energy and uncertainty and when its complexity isn't down to the amount of its components but how they behave (their shape, materiality and colour) towards another and within the outer confines. They need to look concise and simple and at the same time indefinable and shifty... I think I am describing the state of being alive, that anxiety of questioning everything constantly and being suspicious of simplistic concept, ideas and certainties. I seem to be trying to emulate that with my work, although it's not something I have ever consciously aimed for - I have just realised by looking at my method and approach and the outcomes I judge to be successful, that ultimately it is this "life-anxiety" what I seem to be after in my paintings. There is also something to do with suffering and grace but I haven't yet been able to get my head around that... 

The first larger painting of three,
finished and not bad but in my view not wholly successful
Untitled 2014, 145x165cm, conté and acrylic on paper
The second larger painting when it was close to completion -
the black paper at the bottom is still only tacked on as a trial
Untitled 2014, 1.45x1.65cm, conté and acrylic on paper
Beginning the third larger work on paper at the end of 2014 –
it’s very different now and still far from finished
Untitled 2015 (unfinished), approx. 150x170cm acrylic on oiled paper

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

The word "resolve" is quite multifaceted - it has a few different meanings which could be interesting to apply to the creative process. I assume that in this question it is meant to imply the achievement of a solution. And I am not aiming for a solution in my paintings so this struggle is not mine.
smaller paintings and drawings
(in front: paint sketch III 2014, A4, acrylic on paper)


Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I love paper and wood for their complexity, texture and flexibility. I never enjoyed painting on canvas especially not if it is stretched over a frame - I hate the springiness of it. I have long worked with pressed pigments, linseed oil, varnishes and I use acrylics as my main medium. I have tried my hands at oils and turned out a rather lovely, luminous little painting but I didn't fall in love with the technique which at the time I found a bit too precious and restricting. I always liked the immediacy and plainness of acrylic as well as their easy adaptability so that's why I stuck with them. Though this may change of course - things shouldn't get to comfortable so if that threatens I may need to switch to a different medium.

a detail of  dove grey curve
(dove grey curve 2014, 33x36cm, acrylic and varnish on plywood)

What does the future hold for this work?

I hope I don't know. I shall be very happy as long as I'm able to keep painting and continue to meet the unexpected in my work.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

There have been great artists who were able to put their experience, thoughts and feeling into words eloquently and often beautifully. Kandinsky was one and I happened to talk to another artist about his book today which is very good. A quote then, and a sort of appeal:
“… lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and … stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to “walk about” into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?”

untitled, 2014, 30x38cm, acrylic on plywood

Monday, January 26, 2015



untitled 26,
2015, mixed media on multipanel,48x49inches
What are you working on in your studio right now?
My studio is currently full of panels with dimensions ranging between 30x3 & 96x12 inches, I call these, multipanel paintings. I figured out a way to paint using text. This is something I've been trying to figure out for some time now. I'm very happy with this current body of work because it's full of process and subject potential.
Can you describe your working routine? 
I don't have a work routine. I’m always in and out of the studio. My working area is one door away and most of the painting is done at night after our kids are tucked in. During the day I go out hunting for objects, constructing my panels, observing, and enjoying the works in progress.                                                                                                          



Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work? 

One of my biggest thrills in painting is making large scale works. Currently I work in a 2 car garage with a limited ceiling height of 8 feet. Once in a while I pull a painting outside to stretch out, but for the most part I keep indoors. The only way that my working space affects or dictates my work is in terms of scale. I would probably be producing 14 foot paintings if I had the space, but I make the best of it. One of my goals is to build a decent sized studio space in our back yard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

In relation to abstraction and its total freedom, I begin by randomly painting with a variety of water based paints such as wood stains, fabric paint, acrylic from tubes, and latex house paints, building up to a variety of inks, permanent markers, oil pastels, oil bars, oil tube paints, and at times oil house paints. I proceed by scratching some or most of it off. Then, the found objects begin to make their way onto the surface. As soon as I figure out what a painting in progress is telling me, or I figure out what I'm doing, I stop and move on to the next piece.
Part of my drive for making art comes from a dream I had years ago when I was at the beginning stages of painting. I woke up thinking, “That was a great show!” Then I realized those must have been my paintings. The only actual memory I have is that it was in a rundown building with about 10 large scale paintings. One of my goals  is to try to recreate the paintings in that beautiful dream. In my 17 years of painting, I believe I’ve already created two of the paintings that were in that dream. So if it takes me a lifetime to search my subconscious for the rest of the paintings in that dream, then I have plenty of work to do.



Untitled 25 in progress
untitled 25,
2015, mixed media on multipanel, 96x108inches


What are you having the most trouble resolving?
There are always struggles along with successes at any given time in resolving an Art piece. For me, my struggles as a human being will always define my work as an artist.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters? 
I tend to experiment with imagery and process. By using digital sketching my paintings take on a figurative form, but for the most part I use the same materials.
What does the future hold for this work?
If I can accurately predict the future, this work will make its debut here on Studio Critical. It will then move into the physical world for the Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio, Texas, March 12, 2015, with future shows in Denver, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas.                  
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Valerie, thank you for inviting me to participate in this, The Louvre of blogs, it just goes on and on with amazing contemporary painting.

untitled 24,
2015, mixed media with found object on multipanel, 96x96inches

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


A Year of Color, Adjusted for Daylength
                                                40 x 60 inches, acrylic on Dura-Lar, 2014



What are you working on in your studio right now?

There’s a juggling act occurring in my studio at present. I am planning for a February exhibition. The artwork is done. The question is how can the conceptual ideas of the work be supported by the hanging configuration. While I love a grid, I’ve come to question if it’s always the best way to show this recent body of work. Concurrently I’m still painting with the collection of colors from nature that document a year at a specific location. There’s so much more for me to mine in the work, so I keep looking. With this work I’m considering how I can simplify the visual color data. The third “action” item in the studio is embryonic. It’s so new, it’s formless and nearly impossible to name. After 10 years in the same location, my studio has moved into my living space. I am lucky to have a space with open views that show me a lot of sky and river. I’m tuning into the sun coming up each day, the variables of tides on the river, the phases of the moon…I ache with a want to make sense of this and use all these time tracking elements in a project. But, that’s all I know about it at this time.

Apple in 13 colors
6 x 26 inches, acrylic on Dura-Lar, 2014
colors collected from an apple hanging in the sun

Can you describe your working routine?

I have great fondness and respect for routines. My day starts around 6am with meditation, then coffee, then an hour at the gym. Studio work follows, which unfortunately includes the paperwork part of maintaining a studio practice. It seems to come in clumps.. paperwork demanding time, then I’ll get a clump of painting time. Even during a paperwork heavy time I need to push paint around at least one or twice per week. The studio work finishes up around 5 or 6 and then I either have openings to attend or meet ups with artist friends, or I use that time to do mundane things like laundry and grocery shopping.


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio encompasses nearly half of an open living room/dining room section of my apartment. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a live/work space. I love it. There isn’t a separation in my mind, between my life and my work, and I like that there isn’t one physically now either. My work is conducive to an open live/work space, there are no fumes, or other practices (sanding) that would be difficult in a living environment.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

My starting process arises from a mixture of my environment and a desire to track something within it. My methods are conceptually rigorous and process-oriented. With a faithful allegiance to geometry and its capacity to reveal profound truths, I work to generate or guide form in precise ways. The idea comes first; the search for materials, methods and procedures that will best support the idea follows. The work develops around repetitive and serial systems.  I get caught up in subtle calculations and decisions of proportion and interrelationships. Once I develop the system for the specific project and determine the calculations, what remains is a form of meditation: I become the conduit for the arrangement of shape and the placement of color.


Yellow Trail, Spring, Summer,  Fall, Winter,
each: 20 x 30 inches, acrylic on museum board.
The bands of color are in the order in which I found them while hiking the trail

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I find it difficult to resolve the allocation of information about the work. Work with a conceptual starting point, by its nature, comes with lots of thinking and planning. How much of that to share with the viewer is a constant question. I want to find a way to provide that story, because it’s what excited me about the work in the first place…but it can be cumbersome to do so and off-putting to some viewers. 
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

The search for different materials is my obsession. I wish it weren’t so because I spend so much time sourcing and testing materials, often to find a particular material can’t do what I need it to. Nonetheless, it’s who I am.  A particular idea will require a specific surface or medium…and the search begins again. At times, the process happens somewhat reversed…I’ll see a material and swoon…then I must hold on to it until the right idea comes along.


            Seeing Through :: Landscape As Time              
 is 7.5 x 4 feet, acrylic on Juan silk, with pins, 2014 .
Installation at Hansel & Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia Gallery, Chelsea, NYC
What does the future hold for this work?
In my work, I document shifts, mainly via color study, that occur in daily life or magnify things that are easily taken for granted. A year of color changes in the landscape is one example, 13 colors found on an apple is another. I find solace in this work. I am honored to have received an invitation from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation to do a studio residency there in 2016. I have profound respect for the work both of these artists did.  More immediately, I’m super excited to be in a two-person exhibition (with Alex Paik) at TSA Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn in February 2015.