Working ‘En Plein Air’

I’ve been doing a lot of ‘en plein air’ painting recently. There’s no doubt about it -it’s a beneficial exercise. Painting outdoors and in public hones your drawing and painting skills -and frankly; gets you noticed. The weather has finally settled into something like a summer and it’s good to get out and about.

I also enjoy talking to passers-by. I’ve never really had anybody cause problems although I know an artist who has had one twit get all aerated because he thought he was in the painting and managed to convince a guard (a second twit) to move the painter along. What an absolute pair of berks.

I’ve just had a relatively easy week, though. I’ve been at the fantastic Cill Rialaig Artists’ Retreat and had the time and freedom to explore the gorgeous county around South Kerry.

Anyway; I teach this stuff and if you want to have a go, have a look at my teaching web site,


‘Tags’. Making all our lives so much better.

Some street art is really good, no doubt; but only some of it. The vast majority of urban daubings is the meaningless scrawling and repetition of tags. It’s dispiriting to see every available public space sprayed with someone’s name. Advertisements, even if we don’t like them, can be taken down and are updated often; paintings you buy can be sold when you’re tired of them or just taken off the walls and stored for a while. With tagging, there’s no choice for anyone but the tagger and this is the problem.

The simple tagging phenomenon (distinct from genuine street art) is just a sign of a kind of childish emotional incontinence -they don’t want to have to go through the process of putting their art through any kind of review because they don’t really believe in themselves.

Life is all about growing up and working hard at what you do and presenting your work to the general public who may very well be indifferent to it. That can be tough, but if indeed they are, then you need to go away and work harder on your craft or you stop altogether and find out what you’re actually good at.

It’s simply not true that taggers have no other means of putting their work forward. Didn’t Markey Robinson make his work surfaces out of discarded materials? Art materials have never been so available and cheap.

Tulips Study

Tulips Study. Oils on canvas 10" x 14". Kevin McSherry
Tulips Study. Oils on canvas 10″ x 14″. Kevin McSherry

Irene, one of my students, left me these tulips after this morning’s class. It’s the end of April and tulip season is just about finished and these flower heads are just about to drop. They’re going out in a blaze of glory, though.

Oils on deep-edge canvas. 10″ x 14″.

Never Mind the Testiculation

I was over in London last weekend, on an invitation by a friend to go and see The Stranglers. I was an ardent fan around the late seventies so I was dubious about going to see them now, especially as Hugh Cornwell left the band some years ago. Cornwell, with his sinister vocal sound, seems to me to be irreplaceable. Sure enough, their new lead singer [Let’s call him Nugh Cornwell] crashed through songs that should only be sung by Cornwell himself, and moved the group into the territory usually occupied by tribute bands. No more heroes indeed.

On another note, I learned a new word, ‘testiculation’. A friend of mine explained, during a mouth-melting curry engagement, that it means ‘talking bollocks while waving your arms around’.

The Artist’s Studio

The Artist's Studio, Aideen Avenue. En plein air landscape oil painting.
The Artist’s Studio, Aideen Avenue. Oils on canvas. 16″ x 12″

I took advantage of the fine weather this afternoon and set up my easel in my own garden. I enjoyed myself so much I lost track of time; by the time I applied the last stroke I was tired -and cold from standing in one spot for a couple of hours. I’m delighted with the way it turned out -just wonky enough to satisfy my desire not to become overly descriptive.

On another note -or rather more of the same note, I signed up to Art in the Open, the en plein air painting festival in Wexford. It’s on from July 27 – August 5 and I’m very excited to be a part of it.

GDP: An Explanation

I’ve spent some considerable amount of time delving into the world of economics, also known as, ‘The Dismal Science’. Here’s my explanation of the term, ‘Gross Domestic Product’. It’s gross; there’s a lot of it about; it’s all true. Just walk down the street and you’ll see the little bags of GDP left around by Generous Dog Proprietors. It is dismal.

You’re welcome.

Gross domestic product an explanation

‘Crois Chéasta Chill Rialaig 1’ Carved early Irish Christian stone.

'Crois Chéasta Chill Rialaig 1' Carved early Irish Christian stone. Print by Kevin McSherry
‘Crois Chéasta Chill Rialaig 1’ Carved early Irish Christian stone. Print by Kevin McSherry
There are two standing stones with crucifixes carved into them at the ancient Cill Rialaig monastic site on Bolus Head, County Kerry. These are very early monuments in Irish Christianity -perhaps from around 500 AD. They both face west but the crosses are described differently. I’ll make an artwork inspired by the other one as I go on. I was lucky to have my eldest daughter, Mathilde with me. She’s studying ancient and medieval art and culture in Trinity, so I got an informed opinion on the subject into the bargain.
We scouted around the chaos of tumbled and weathered stones for a while, indulging ourselves with fantasies of how the settlement must have looked in its heyday; but the rain fell down on us and we started to lose the light. I discovered my hiking boots weren’t as watertight as they should be, but I endured for the sake of Culture!
Print: Hand inked and coloured in Affinity Designer. It will be a limited edition of 125 on Hahnemuhle German Etching paper by The Copperhouse . Signed, numbered and titled, ‘Crois Chéasta Chill Rialaig 1’ (that’s a working title until I can verify the Irish.) 8″ x 10″

8″ x 10″

The City

I was invited to submit works based around the theme ‘The City’ to le Louvre open submissions show in Paris. Acrylics on canvas. 12″ x 26″.

Limited edition (50), numbered and hand-signed museum-quality archival giclée prints with an edition certificate (Hahnemuhle German Etching fine art paper) available directly from me:

The City. Acrylics on canvas painting for le Louvre open submissions show.
The City. Acrylics on canvas painting for le Louvre open submissions show.

The City. Acrylics on canvas painting in frame for le Louvre open submissions show.