Selfie Lisa

160920 Mona Lisa

A few years ago, a few other artists from around the world and I were commissioned to paint our own versions of Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa for an advertising campaign. In the end, the campaign didn’t launch for various reasons. I enjoyed making this. It’s actually acrylics on Arches watercolour paper but I followed the way the original may have been painted; colour glazed over a grisaille underpainting.

One of my daughters posed for me, making the ‘duck-face’.

The craquelure effect comes from a specialist varnish which is in itself quite tricky to use. It can go very wrong if you miss a bit.

The original artwork is available to buy. Contact me here.

Selfie Lisa. Acrylics on paper after Da Vinci. About A3.

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″.