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I have completed five 1m x 1m paintings and a series of six 20cm x 20 cm paintings, each one pushing my work into a new direction. For example, I began one using charcoal or by making a gesture marks on the canvas, these new elements would be incorporated into the world of painting I already knew. By starting a piece with something unknown created a lot of problems and often brought the works in the wrong direction. I found this very rewarding and it gave me time to reflect on what direction I was going in.
I was delighted to find that the arts office had most of the essential equipment any artist would need in a new space. They also supplied me with a projector, which I used to project previous motifs onto new canvases to work through ides and experiment, helping me discard some of that background noise and find the real path I wished to follow. This also meant I could continue my work after “office hours” at home using my laptop and project the adjustments onto the work the following day. It is important to mention the time-table, as I’m sure most artists don’t follow a strict 9 to 5.It was difficult for me to leave my work at five o’clock, but I believe this type of programme helps artists to work to deadlines, which helps in any professional career.
But these are all good reasons to undertake a residency. It makes you work in a different form than you would normally. Different timetable, studio, county and the interaction with the public influenced my work greatly.
Hugh McCarthy, Hysteria, 2007, Mixed Media on Canvas, 100cm x 100cm; courtesy Stone Gallery
Eogan is an artist. He is also a person with special needs. Once a week, we collaborated on a painting series. The result is a diptych about his mother’s souvenirs. And a gunman. Three paintings but this is not a triptych. I had asked Eogan to bring pictures to launch the project. He came the first time with old photos of his mother on the platform of a train station and… James Bond.
I wondered how to work with him. My scruples concerned the respect for his work, how to exchange ideas without me imposing my vision on him.
I was concerned that he would agree with how all the work was done and be involved in every stage of the process. He himself brought e response to the issue in the very first session. I had prepared a canvas the day before. This canvas was not foreseen for the collaboration. This was for me only. I left the space to get coffee and when I returned with drinks Eogan had partially covered this canvas with white paint and began a drawing on it. This was good. I realised that I didn’t need to worry so much about this issue of respect. We simply had to do what seemed to us to suit to complete the painting. I have therefore also covered certain parts of his work. I would say that we practised a form of palimpsest to the improbable result.
This week I prepared my drawings on computer, the collages and the photocopies. Over the weekend, I did the actual messy work (colour spray, painting)
1. Elaboration of my drawings by computer, doodling, photocopies… that constitutes the first stage.
2. Collage of this assemblage on canvas.
3. Black and white paint to unify the picture and create the composition.
4. Add in colour.
For me, it is important that the placement in colour intervenes finally when all the elements of the composition are in place. I wanted to take at the residence advantage to perfect a new technique of placement of colour. The varnishes and oil colours I used make me ill. It was necessary to find a solution with watercolour. Without returning to the details, I found an ink mixture that compares well with the varnishes and even allowed new perspectives.