Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tadelakt is a form of lime which, when finished and polished correctly has the ambiance of marble but unlike marble is warm, impermiable to water, easily sculpted and extremely nice to look at and touch.
Great course, taught by a great teacher.
While we were studying, it began to rain and it rained hard. It didn't stop for 24 hours and many people were flooded out. All day today was spent helping people to get the waves of mud out of their houses. One local person had a pool of water around their house which was a metre and a half deep. That's about five feet. So their entire house was swamped. A few locals, the pompiers, myself and my father in law, spent the day separating their things from the mud and stones washed in by the waves of water. It looked like a complete disaster but by the end of the day we had made huge progress. Drains were unblocked and the mud cleared away. There's more to do tomorrow but it's looking good.
Here's a photo of an orchard beside the house that was flooded. Below that is a photo of the course in tadelakt.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
One of those things that have been difficult to find in Paris has been life drawing. I am restricted to only two locations, at present, where I can do this kind of drawing but had heard rumors that others exist. Despite having many french artist friends, none have not been forthcoming in advice on the topic.
Today I read that there has been a nude strike in the center of Paris to support the models who work in these mysterious places. Apparently the Marie has been organising these things all along. Who would have thought to look there?
You might find this interesting to read.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I've just added a news page to my site where people can follow what I'm up to. It's a bit like a blog but not a blog.
I'm going to be exhibiting in Paris next week so this gives a taste of what it will be like.
It goes out each month in the form of a newsletter so if you are interested in receiving a copy just sign up. The option is at the bottom of the page.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I was very interested to find this article in the New York Times today.
Particularly this section here. I smell conspiracy pooh here. There are a lot of people suggesting that this financial crisis is a part of a bigger strategy and to be honest, it seems hard to have not seen it coming. Yes I did, along with lots of others!
"Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations, according to records and interviews. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism.According to previously undisclosed internal F.B.I. data, the cutbacks have been particularly severe in staffing for investigations into white-collar crimes like mortgage fraud, with a loss of 625 agents, or 36 percent of its 2001 levels."
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I hope that you can make it to this years 'Grand Marché d'Art Contemporain' in Bastile, Paris. I'll be exhibiting my new paintings there for the first time within the main enclosure.You should have no problem finding me in the main enclosure. The dates are 28th of October to the 2nd of November and you can't miss it. It's the biggest thing in Bastile.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I've recently found a word, 'Memes', to apply to a phenomena that I noticed several years ago. I think that this is a key to answers on how people tick and why they do the things they do. It goes into the worlds of the quantum and out into biology and psychology. Any body out there got thoughts on the matter?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
This weekend saw a major change for Irish people living in Paris. One of the rocks of the community has moved back to Ireland and will be missed. Fr Declan Hurley, our Chaplin and confidant, who has been here for the last 4 years has returned to his home town of Navan.
I met Fr. Declan when I first arrived in Paris. He was resident in the Irish College or College des Irlandais in the 5eme. My wife and I lived there for the first 5 months of the first year here in France and we have very fine memories of the time. Fr Declan was undoubtably one of the pillars of the society and he made the community there stronger.
The Irish parishioners commissioned a going away painting for him. A reminder of his stay here and of the college itself. It's painted in oils on canvas.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I've been learning a lot lately and chewing over the topic raised by most artists at one time or another. This is my observation and I'm sure that it's not correct in every context. I am speaking about the art of painting here but I refer to other means of creating through my writing as well. I hope you find it interesting.
The value of art.
When you talk about value you have to talk about some empirical measurement system. That's the kind of world that we have lived in for centuries now. For convenience I'll compare value to money. The value of art of course, goes beyond money and is a different thing entirely. It is of the unspoken and unspeakable things that it's value often comes from. I won't discuss the spiritual value, social or energetic value of art here. Another time perhaps.
There is a direct correlation between art and money. As money continues to appear to have little value more money is being translated into rare and valuable things such as gold, minerals and ....art.
Art as we define it, in all it's forms and the more rare forms the better, has always had a value. An intangible value. When it becomes increasingly obvious that it is to become increasingly rare, such as on the death of a particular artist, then the value of the art increases greatly.
This has been the case with other things such as rare flowers, furs and spices. At one time salt was more valuable than gold, economic systems were based on tulips, people went to war for bread. Now those things are more plentiful and have less effect on the economics of the world.
Art has been a constant. Artists have created beautiful jewelry, paintings, sculptures and great effort has always been exercised by the wealthy, well educated and intelligent to acquire art and be in the presence of it, for all sorts of reasons. Beauty not being the least of them.
So what's happening today and how does this relate to art as we know it. Well, there has never been a shortage of people calling themselves artists. Nor a shortage of art itself in some form or another. Everyone can be an artist to some degree. So what makes one art more valuable than another.
The rarity is the key thing which makes the difference.
So what is rarity? Well some art is historical. The artist is attached to great events or great people and the works that the person produces are of not just artistic value but also historical value. Historic value can also be associated with social events.
A great artist, charged with the energy of a dramatic social event records it in their art of the moment and somehow captures the sense of what has passed. They act as a marker for the event and the energy is recorded for future generations to understand better the context of what has passed. They are like a meteorite that lands from space and tells us something of the structure and potential of a distant world.
Other rarity is based on skill. Someone so skilled as to be connected to another sort of intelligence, to a level never seen before, like an Olympic athlete or someone like Albert Einstein. The artist, like the scientist, leaves a trace behind them which effects many generations to come.
Each artist can only produce so many pieces of art in their lives. Not all artists works are great. Like many of Picasso's early pieces. But he worked to refine himself, as well as his art. That requires time, intelligence, insight and determination. Most people would give up long before they reached the same point, even if they could. Some people cannot give up, it is a matter of life or death for many.
These people as well as the art they produce are rare. It requires much work, isolation and introspection. It also requires a determined desire to learn in an area where much has been written about the end product and almost nothing about the process.
Rothco wrote a fascinating book on the process which is not intelligible to everyone. None the less it is a fascinating insight into his life and inspirations. His art is often hidden away in the collections of powerful companies and families.
So art is often used as a currency among the super rich. Not just any art. They seek art from people who have reached further and have not been equaled or who have been significant historical figures such as Peter Paul Reubens.
As money increasingly looses it's value and as gold and other rare minerals become less difficult to take out of the earth, those involved in finance can see the value of the things around them shrinking. They wonder where to put their wealth. Hence the increase in the value of art during times of coming economic depression. The art may loose it's monetary value during those times, as does everything that does not provide food, heating and shelter but when things recover the value of the art also recovers and grows, whereas other items such as tulips, salt, microchips and gold may decrease as things improve.
This leads to the subject of those that monitor and control which artists can enter the art worlds hallowed halls of approval. Why should there be art dealers who say that one artist is accepted and another not? Well there is the comparison between art dealers at the highest levels and financiers.
These same people have a lot of control over whose art is traded. They control the movement of art and issue their mark of approval just as someone assesses a mineral as a piece of gold or not.
These days with the loss of the special luxury goods market, due to mass production many are turning to art as an alternative status symbol as well as investment. However we are also seeing the presence of mass produced art. in the past art has often been the result of a team of artists work, such as on a large sculpture or a tapestry. Then it is finished by the artist who is accredited with having conceived the piece but today the artist attributed with the creation of the work, may not have even conceived the idea for the piece. So even art is being undermined in it's value by the use of mass production and the use of marketing to promote a false value.
Things are changing and hopefully it will come out well. It does beg the question. What is art really. It's not just about who says it's good or not. It's merely that some people, recognising that some items called art have a rarity and are sought after are using those same items for trade and profiting in the process.
They don't necessarily have to have any love, respect or understanding of art to do this. Merely to know which pieces are regarded as valuable and what their last sales price was, how rare they are relatively, etc. There is no love of creation in that. No respect for real values or protection of the process of art or artists. They bring art down to the level of a commodity. Hence the desire of some to take advantage and mass produce designs and forms, marketing them as a commodity but calling it art.
The current way of trading art has resulted in this distance from it's real value. It's like a collector of butterflies who no longer sees the animals or appreciates that they have given up their lives in being in the collectors display.
He may merely catalog their names and species while flaunting his collection over other collectors without appreciating any longer why he became a collector in the first place.
Perhaps we can learn to appreciate living artists, the work they do and their various species without destroying the thing we love, through over intellectualizing or coldly measuring their financial value.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I was in the Alps this summer for two weeks and apart from the influx of the tour de france cyclists and their adoring entourage it is a remarkably quiet place which is even more remarkably beautiful. Although the alps are breath taking in the winter, I find them to be even more beautiful during the summer.
While there I painted, as normal. This landscape is too beautiful to ignore. The towering mountains are awe inspiring and the sense of perspective that distance creates in that kind of landscape is a formidable challenge to capture on canvas. Fortunately my wife and her father took a couple of photos of me painting. I look at them and think, 'you need to get rid of the weight boyo'.
There's a great many wild flowers everywhere and thankfully lots of insects and wild bees pollinating them. The air is very clear here and in years to come I plan to spend several months drawing and documenting them.
While there, I worked on a commission and was lucky to have a studio where I could paint. Unfortunately I can't post any information on the painting for the moment for fear that the person whom it is intended for, might find out. The painting will be a surprise gift from the commissioner. It's taken a lot of time to just prepare the ground work for this painting and I'm glad to say that it seems to have been worth it. Despite that I still haven't done any colour on the actual canvas yet. I've been building up an underpainting with enormous attention to detail. At times it seemed to be too much of a challenge but after a visit to the Louvre where I examined other paintings done in the same manner I feel that I've made the right decision despite the enormous amount of time which it demands.
Here's a photo of me sketching the crowd at the tour de France.
Here's another of me taken by my wife who snuck up with her camera as I painted.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Veering wildly off the track of art I'd like to indulge a little in, well, waffling. It's getting to the point that this here digital world may be beginning to have a really positive effect on the planet. That is, if we can figure out a way to have computers not fill up landfills every couple of years.
The landscape of newspaper publishing is changing fast. Many of them are closing down despite being propped up as much as possible by moguls such as Murdock. It's partly caused by the cost of petrol and transporting newspapers to their destinations. Partly the cost of paper and mostly because of the availability of alternative sources of information online.
The transition will be difficult for employees but there are other employment opportunities on the web now. The Huffington post is doing very well for instance and their writers are employed just like the ones in print newspapers.
Why is this a good thing? Paper is made from wood & hundreds of tons of trees are cut down every day to satisfy newspaper production. Although many argue that forests are maintained to satisfy the demands of publishing it's not a rational argument. Trees don't exist for printing on. They were there first.
What's going to bring about the real end to the printed newspaper is not really the content on screen. It's the content on digital paper. Yes, it exists already and is on it's way to us fast. It's not really going to change anything other than give us all a lot more choice in terms of what we read.
The new e-newspaper / e-paper is extremely energy efficient in terms of displaying information and has huge potential for school children who normally have to carry many kilos worth of books to school every day. Not to mention every other form of of print. I love books and hope it won't impact them but I can't see that not happening to some extent. A world without libraries or book shelves would be very sad. Particularly for those people who do such a marvelous job of designing them.
However it should make writing, as a profession more doable and distribution also a lot easier (saving on fuel, time and reducing pollution from trucking.
Here's a link for more information on the paper that's coming.
Monday, April 07, 2008
It came as quiet a shock and I felt the sting so clearly that it woke me up, sort of.
I realised I was dreaming and found myself semi-awake. In a lucid dreaming state. So I decided it was time for a little revenge. In the dream, which I was now fully conscious of, I stood up and hit him back. He went flying across the classroom, bumped his head off the wall and while he was in that stunned state, I pulled off his tweed trousers (ever so respectable) went to his desk, where he had stashed his bottle of vodka. Poured that over the trousers and set them alight. He woke up at this stage and stumbled to his feet. So I charged and hit him in the stomach with my head. He went flying out the window (first floor) into the playground below. The flaming trousers followed. Then I went back to the meditation with the other students and we all hummed in perfect harmony and contentment.
People sometimes wonder where a cheerful guy like me gets all the anger from. Well folks, a lot comes from being beaten every day in school when I was a lad. That's where my intense dislike for bullies comes from too. Although I really and truly believe in turning the other cheek and working with people, there comes a time and often it's very early in the situation, where a good retort is absolutely necessary. It comes out in my paintings more than anywhere else.
It was a really enlivening, impressive, colourful, painterly (where did they find all those great painters) and just generally brilliant show. There was a large queue to get in but that's normal, the French love a good queue. I've seen people join them only to get to the end and realise that that didn't really want to be there, so they trail away. There's a sense of solidarity in waiting together.
So why was the ArtParis show so great? There was a lot of art on the walls rather than empty space. There was no sense of boredom in visitors. The displays had a lot of class and each was a bit different to each other, simply creative rather than competitive. There were very interesting effects type art which didn't depend on being plugged in or require a solar panel to work. Just clever. The quality, across the board was really impressive and no one seemed to be trying to foist off bad or boring work on buyers. And there were lots of buyers. I've never seen so many little red dots. Not to mention so many political paintings. Freedom of speech really isn't dead here. It was very impressive.
Here's a selection of photos and video.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
The famous Armoury show in New York, has been a highlight for art collectors, artists and galleries for many years. It started in the Gramercy Park Hotel during the 1990's. Just like the Carlton arms today but without the great art on the walls.
Last years show was, apparently great. I'd heard lots of good things about it and expected this years to be as interesting or lots better than the FIAC show in Paris last year (which really was great!!). So, when I actually got there it came as a bit of a disappointment. It was really surprising how much bare wall space was on show as opposed to art. This is ironic, the galleries pay about $25,000 per stand to show the artists that they represent. The short video here contains some of the best bits of the show.
It wasn't just American galleries who were there, with almost half being from Europe. So how come it wasn't really exciting, interesting, jaw dropping. How come, almost everything seemed, the same or as though it came from the same box. Some galleries, of course, were great and had very innovative work but there was a general air of vacantness in the majority of stands at the show.
Whether or not it has anything to do with the content, The Armory has been bought by Chris Kennedy's company, Merchandise Mart. Although there is apparently a judging committee which chooses the galleries and the artists they are allowed to show, Mr Kennedy seems to take a very personal attitude towards opinions on the quality of the work hanging there. He has called critism by galleries of the terms of showing "Heresy". He also thinks that "Art Fairs are the future of retail" according to Linda Yablonsky, so perhaps he's not really in this for the love of 'Art'.
Chris Kennedy is of the American Kennedy clan who have a long history as patrons of the arts. Mr Kennedy is looking to expand into other art fairs. Personally, people like him freak me out.
Monday, March 31, 2008
The evening after arriving, the 28th I went to visit Katie Holtens Exhibition in Manhattan. I'd seen her work a couple of years previously at a really good exhibition in Paris and wanted to see what she was up to now.
The work is a continuation of the theme which she has been diligently working on over the last few years. In the rooms of the first floor gallery she created a sculpted interior forest of dark, tar like trees stripped of their colour and leaves. They lined the walls in one room and in another took center stage. Her studies of withered leaves, in drawn form, covered the walls of the halls and other rooms.
There were a good few people there. In fact it was hard to get in but Katie personally made everyone welcome. Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert is a nice welcoming gallery on the corner of 19th street and 9th avenue. The full address is 148, 9th Avenue, Floor 2, NY, NY 10011
So I dropped in the painting to the gallery on the morning of the 28th and had a peek at the work before it went up. Really impressive. There's a lot of good stuff here.
The gallery itself is enormous, white walls etc, as you would expect. Of course it was in a state before the opening but that's normal. It has good partitions and is really well lit with large windows and great location on a street with five other galleries so it's a good draw for collectors.
On the night of the opening it was in ship shape condition. The crowd arrived early and there were lots of them. Because most of the artists are from Europe, very few could be there but some very interesting contributors did turn up. We learnt more of the history of the place and I can't overstate the lengths that these people have gone to to make art a part of their lives. they are living testaments to what is meant by patrons of the arts. Here are a few photos but I'll post more later.
Very tired after a hard nights debate with other creative people. Oh, here's a shot of Banksy's work.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I'm flying to New York in a few hours to exhibit in the Artbreak gallery in Williamsburg with Banksy.
We'll will be showing our art for one month and I hope to ruffle a few feathers and make a noise with this piece called 'The Golden Rules'. It depicts, well you know, 'him', surrounded by his staff, and getting advice from places he shouldn't.
It's a statement on the influence on government by outside interests. The influence of church on state, of business on national policy, on who's really running the country, or who you voted for, without knowing you were voting for them.
The corporate priest is a reflection of the fact that churches in America are basicly a business, seen by many as a tax haven, a place that you can put your dollars and write it off a against tax while basking in the glow of spiritual and community respect or getting the church to act as a mouth piece in promoting your point of view.
The girl in rose pink represents the original settlers and she holds the constitution of the United States in her hands. She's not getting a lot of respect from 'him' in the painting. Lip service galore but no respect. The Mayflowers name was taken from the Epigea repens or Trailing Arbutus, a white and pink flower which has a four petal structure. Hense the colour of her costume.
The 'gag' of the monkeys speaks for itself, hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing. The painting is, oils on canvas with raised lettering and gold leaf. It will be showing in the ArtBreak Gallery for one month from the 29th of March till the 29th of April. The grand opening is on 29th of March from 3pm till 9pm. The address is 195 Grand street, 2nd floor. Williamsburg NY 11211. Tel: 01-718 302 1021
Toms paintings are hanging in the Greenlane gallery in Dingle and the Zozimus gallery in Dublin. To learn more visit his website and/or subscribe to his newsletter. http://www.tjbyrne.com
Monday, February 18, 2008
One of the themes is 'Victims of Armed Conlict'.
They also have a section of their website which promotes the artists works before the event. I'm honored to be the first artist that they chose for the artist of the week.
It only lasts a week so have a look at http://www.artenade.com/hague/ArtistOfTheWeek.aspx
Monday, February 04, 2008
To zoom in on the details in this painting click here.
Here's a photo of a painting that I did in two sessions last week. The first layer is a tempera and the second is oil. One over the other. The basic ingredients of the tempera and the oil are the same. Except that the tempera has the egg added. You do it all yourself, from dissolving the resin, mixing the ground pigment to thickening the oil in the sun for a few weeks. It's that process of being in touch with the materials that makes the painting very personal.
The model was very pleased with the painting too and took a photo of me at work. He's asked me not to post a photo of him beside it but I'm sorely tempted. Anyway here is the painting. It's not finished. There is more to do on it but I want the current paint to dry first, in a couple of weeks.
The Lovers Whisper
I'm very pleased about this because Dingle is one of those special places in the world. It was a pivotal place of change for me several years ago, before I decided to move to France. I was on an artists retreat with some American artists who came over from New Haven. I thought that there would be more Irish artists too but in fact I was the only one.
It rained and rained for two weeks without ceasing. Despite this we walked and explored every day and wrote,talked, painted and went out over the sea to the Blasket Islands. It was boot camp for creatives and I loved it. Thanks to Caoimhghin O'Fraithile, our indestructible & madcap artist guide, we visited many amazing, artistic and historical locations in Dingle and the ring of Kerry. It was formative. The Greenlane gallery, which was in a different building then also opened my eyes to the freshness and purity of the kind of art that a location like Dingle can produce. So it's great to have my work on show there and it's a great gallery.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Events for 2008
Exhibitions, shows, competitions and fairs. This is a preliminary outline of what is happening in 2008. There will be much more as the year gets going and I'm looking forward to discovering what new things present themselves.
At the moment there are four paintings on show at the Zomimus Gallery in Dublin.
Blue Man, is a painting of a nude holding a ball of gold. He is blue to represent the electric energy of his potential. The gold ball is the focus of that potential. It's painted in oils with gold leaf on canvas.
The Cry, a painting of a mans mouth screaming. My own personal interpretion for this painting is related to the earth but perhaps there is some other inner, unvoiced reason.
Saviour III, a painting of a bird, not in flight but in ascent. His eyes are closed and he is surrendered.
Knight is a painting of a friend riding her horse. She is a horse whisperer in fact. The youngest qualified in France for this unusual profession. Her relationship to the horse is close to the ideal.
The new paintings, which I've uploaded, have the ability to be zoomed in upon. You can see the tiny details of brush strokes when you click on the image and zoom into the area of the painting that you find the most interesting. Try it out and let me know if you like it.
March: My work is on show in New York. The Carlton Arms Gallery in Brooklyn, 29th of March.
March: I'm entering the BP portrait awards in London. It is one of the most prestigious awards with artists from all over the world delivering work for consideration. http://www.npg.org.uk/live/bpmenu.asp
May: I am exhibiting in London at the Batersea Art fair from 16th to the 18th May 2008. http://www.bcaf.info/index.htm
June and July: This summer my paintings will be on show at, Nutshuis, the Hague, the Netherlands, between 7th of June and 5th of July. http://www.thehague.nl/default.asp?id=DOORWAYNEWS-uk
November 2008: The Irish artists Compendium Awards. This is the second award from The Irish Artists Compendium. The ceremony takes place in November but voting is a year long process. Last years was a great success and very good for the profile of Irish artists. It is organised by John Ryan. The award is judged in two stages. The first stage is public and there is a prize of EU500 awarded to ten voters drawn from those who voted for any of the twenty shortlisted artists will each receive a €500 prize. You can enter for the cash prize and out more and register by going to this link. http://www.irishartcompendium.com/awards_home.php