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: KevinMcSherryArtist@gmail.com

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.

Flights of Fancy: An Exhibition of Paintings. Harold’s Cross. June 16-26

If you would like to collaborate in this show, please visit my Fundit.ie Campaign page to see what rewards I’m offering!


La Galerie Impromptu (286c Harold’s Cross Road -right beside The Brick House Café). 

Opening at 6.30pm Thursday June 16. By invitation only. Exhibition runs until June 26.


About the exhibition 


Each year, I hold an exhibition that is completely independent of the gallery system to focus on exploring what’s essential in my work, free of external pressures. This is my annual Special Show where you can see me as I am. 
This time, It’s going to be a popup gallery! The owner of Rosie O’Grady’s bar in Harold’s Cross has very generously offered out one of his adjacent units; a shop that fronts onto the main street. It will be over this unit that I will hang the ‘La Galerie Impromptu banner.


As an artist, I’m not only interested in the imaginative and conceptual nature of my art; I’m dedicated to the craft side too. For me they’re indivisible. I have always wanted to create things with mind AND my hands. My influences are broad: Hopper, definitely; classical painters for their level of craft but also the surrealists. More strongly though, by so-called Pop Culture. I just love great illustration work. The imagination and highly accomplished artistry.

So this is my one-man Cultural Event. These are my Flights of Fancy. This is my own personal Milan and Paris fashion show.


The work in this show is an eclectic mix  -works completed in the last year or so. Although there’s no common theme, one thing that re-occurs is that of flight. Flying racing fish; dirigible cricketers; gilded birds and flighty notions.


So, feathered friends; I’m offering you the opportunity to become an integral part of this show: Proceeds from this crowd-funding campaign will cover the costs of framing, refreshments for the opening and talks, publicity and printing of a catalogue and other printed material. In return, my flock, I shall reserve a special place for you in my heart and in the lush pastures, fragrant forests and cool mountains of this benevolent and expanding land, AND what’s more you’ll even receive something real, that you can hold in your hands änd hang on your wall, in return. Please look at the schedule of the rewards that await supporters and patrons of the arts below. Take wing, citizens! For when we flock together, we are strong!

If you would like to collaborate in this show, please visit my Fundit.ie Campaign page to see what rewards I’m offering!

Below some examples of work to be included:

The Unsolveable Conundrum. Gilded Acrylics on canvas. 20″ x 16″ 

Cousin Peregrine’s Lament. Acrylics on canvas. 8″ x 10″

The Terenure Dirigibles. Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 16″

The Rule of Thirds. Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 24″

Snake Oil

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’ve been working for some time on a series of illustrations to be produced as prints. It’s an avenue that I’ve been exploring as a way out of the drudgery of ‘jobbing’ illustration. This is how I’ve been feeling for more than a year, now. Working for those who either lack the imagination to extrapolate from a simple sketch or who see artists’ skills as merely a way to realise their own ideas has palled. None of this is their fault, since they’re paying for a start and I’ve colluded in this state of affairs myself [I’ve willingly bought the snake oil salesman’s promises] but it is a strong indication that I’m really in the wrong end of the business.  

Producing my own art for my own products is also fun, which is the bit that has been missing, of late. All art has to have a LARGE amount of the artist invested in it, if it is to be any good. If it doesn’t, it enters the world still-born; a lifeless conjoined monster of conflicting personas, likely to be shunned. You can’t, as many people seem to believe, micro-manage an artist’s work and expect it to shine. This is absolutely the very worst aspect of being an illustrator. I suspect that the same applies for designers and advertising creatives, copywriters or any ‘applied artist’.
 
So, this way if the idea fails, then it will have failed on my terms -because of my imagination, my drawing skill, my own efforts. So be it. If the idea succeeds, then I’ll reap the benefit -on levels much more important than the mere accrual of money. For me, illustration has been like a bottle of balm sold by the credible-sounding man in the white suit -just buy this and all your art troubles will be over! Become an illustrator and be an artist who actually gets paid! Strangle that snake oil salesman who lives inside your head -he’s full of empty bottles and unkeepable promises. Here’s my advice to any young artist thinking of becoming an illustrator: Think very very carefully -do you really want to make your much-loved hobby into your job? Perhaps, before embarking on your career, read ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ by Michael E. Gerber, then at least you might approach it with a plan in mind.
 
This wasn’t meant to depress -I’m excited about my art these days -but only art that is truly, or even largely, mine. I get more joy out of a small sale from my little still life studies than I ever did from a big illustration project because I know that a beautiful, personal connection has been made and that the love invested in the small painting generated love in return. As Paul McCartney wrote; In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Internalising

Well, here I am, just after my first experience in collaboration with an intern. I’ve always had reservations about the whole intern concept and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a a position to be able to employ anyone.  However, it turned out to be very successful, despite my misgivings. I usually work alone and usually in a kind of ‘just muddling-through’, disorganised fashion. I got tired just thinking about what I had to prepare for this student. Luckily, Sophie turned out to be much better prepared than I was and she showed such initiative and worked with such energy that the whole thing was a pleasure. She really has set the bar high. What convinced me to take her on in the first place was her initial email. She had obviously researched her subject; this was no generic, catch-all proposal message, like many others I have received. She knew my work, (all the way over in Holland!) and the tone of her letter was pitched perfectly. This is why I wrote the following text:

I see internships in my studio as a collaboration. I would hope to learn as much from you as you do from me. I work as an independent illustrator/artist and art teacher which requires that I do many of the jobs for which other, bigger businesses have staff: On top of my artistic work, there is: Administration; invoicing; prospecting; teaching; pricing; debt-collection; web site building, creating shows, etc.. The work is constant and very varied -and often fun.


My expectations (and probably the expectations of any business, creative or otherwise) are:

  • Respect and courtesy: Please don’t approach me by impersonal email without having researched me and my work, your email will be binned without being read. A respectful approach will be heard: I will reply, even if I can’t take you on.
  • You’ll be representing me to people who I hope to work with or already work with: please don’t turn up looking like Edward Scissorhands! I might be impressed by your creatively stunning and committed individuality but I know clients who would not.
  • Show me that you can think for yourself and that you possess initiative. There’s no point in me taking on interns who I think I will perform tasks that I can’t do, only to find I’ve got to closely guide them along.
  • Know how to address people in formal circumstances like writing a letter or an email or when phoning. Your English doesn’t have to be perfect but the rules are the same in any language and besides, I’ll be there to correct the English where I can.
  • Never make promises you can’t or won’t keep. This is a cardinal rule for life. For example, try your best to keep to your deadlines, whatever they are. Like turning up at meetings. I once arranged a formal meeting with seven students. Only two turned up. It was a sunny day; we don’t get many sunny days in Ireland but, you see; that’s just bad luck, isn’t it? I turned up only to have my time wasted. That’s the world of work; turning up. Also, if you can’t make your deadline or if you’re going to be late, have the courtesy to phone in.
My least successful activity is marketing; generating interest and following up; something that a student of marketing and/or design could do much better than me.
In return, you’ll be treated very well; you’ll be praised highly for the good work that you do (unfortunately, this doesn’t often happen in the work environment as many bosses are complete tossers); I’ll make sure that you get the benefit of my experience in terms of mentoring; I’ll do whatever I can do to help you along in your career and introduce you to others who might help you along too.

Open letter to the owners of vacant commercial properties in Terenure.

An open .    Monday November 30. 2015


Reproduced from the ‘Our Community‘ page in the top menu.

I’m writing an open letter because you’re almost impossible to find.  I think it’s vital that the environment in which we live contains art. We have plenty of places to eat. We can drink buckets of coffee. There are lots of shops where we can buy provisions. We have great pubs, enough accountants and enough solicitors and many estate agents. We all live together and share this locality.


What we have very little of is Beauty in our environment. Why not do what you can to make this place look better.  Little things matter a great deal: just take a look at what Terenure Office Supplies do with their fabulous window displays for the children around Christmas and other significant occasions during the year. Magnificent. They deserve our full support.


This does matter. This activity brings joy -and that’s what will motivate people to turn up to our village centre and maybe even buy stuff -or rent our vacant properties!


Here in Terenure, (and indeed all over Ireland) we have lots of empty commercial buildings. Some have been vacant for many years. Why not use Art to show how a village could look? Just a thought. Use Art to create a buzz around the place. Show how the buildings look when in use and lit brightly. Give something back to the people who we rely on to support the businesses in our locality.


Take a moment to think about how it could be if we all pull together. Of course, I’m asking that this be done as a community service. I don’t have any money to pay for premises. I hardly have the money to pay my own mortgage; I just have my art, my enthusiasm and great connections to many wonderful, joyful artists with global reputations. I’m willing to muck in and organize a fantastic show for nothing; including sourcing print, putting together an opening party, publicising the event and manning the show for the duration of maybe a month. Will you muck in?


Have a look at the splendid video below, produced by the wonderful Sophie Spendel who’s over from Holland, a country where they celebrate creativity and beauty and community activism. It’s hard enough when the economy bursts -and then the clouds burst above us as they’re doing as I write. Why don’t we just celebrate life? Create something to see that takes us outside of mundanity? That’s why we work, isn’t it? To fund our lives outside of work.


I didn’t set out to write a letter like this; I was only going to have this page for the video but I became moved to do so after so many rejections and expressions of indifference. We owe this to ourselves, because we all have to live here. It can’t be that difficult.


Kevin
086 247 0737


6 Pack Dublin City from Sophie Spendel on Vimeo.

Guitar Project #2: Working out the Chords

The best place to start with a project like this is the café. Rathmines, inevitably; in the calming surrounds of Café Moda. Of course I forgot my sketchbook, so I had to run in to the Swan Centre to find a cheap one -and a pen.

This is more or less how I approach any applied art project. I used to just write lists of words which may or may not lead me to an idea. In recent years, I find this a better way of generating at least something. In the end, I went for a bird theme with a peacock, as you can hopefully see in the third picture. I’m in an avian groove! I should start tweeting a bit more…

I used a posca marker for that white line. I felt I needed to see how it will work at full size on the instrument itself. As you can see, it’s now completely covered with a spay-coat. This will just serve as a toned ground on which to work.


Oh and by the way, I’ve just invested in a new airbrush! Yup. I had one many years ago when I used to paint murals on scooters. I just can’t remember what happened to it. I most likely left it behind when I upped sticks and left London in 1988. Strangely enough, I brought the compressor with me, which I still have. Bananas. I’m going to use the airbrush for the general shapes in order to keep the job as flat as possible. The detailing will have to be done with a brush -but I’ll be using Golden liquid acrylics which will stay pretty flush.

When that arrives sometime next week, I can get down to the real work.

Do comment, if this project interests you; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Not Quite All Washed-up Yet…

I received a communiqué [well -a comment] from somebody who asked why I’d stopped posting to this blog recently. ‘Tis true -I have only posted seven times in the whole of this year.

To Anonymous.
The reasons for my lethargy were that I thought no-one was reading this stuff, for a start; so that’s one reason! It’s truly gratifying when I discover that someone is listening to my outpourings -especially when the comments are as cheering as yours. Thank you.

More importantly though, I’ve been through some challenging times, shall we say, along with many. First, a sudden and dramatic fall-off in editorial illustration work forced me to rethink how I should be directing my efforts; and really about how I should be living my life. What’s true is that I had become increasingly dissatisfied with life as a jobbing illustrator and there are several strands to this: The constant but fruitless promotional efforts [I had a database of well over a thousand two hundred names that sat in my computer ever accusing me of not contacting them].
The work that I really enjoyed ; illustrating for the Irish Times Business on Friday section was cut and I was left with one last editor who had the authority and desire to buy in my illustrations. However, the editorial approach was too heavy-handed for me and I gave it up. The only ‘work’ I enjoyed doing was sketching and posting them up on Creative Ireland!
The reality is; the problem has been mostly me. I don’t like being told what to draw or paint. Sure, most people who dislike their jobs just turn up at their workplaces and do their daily duties but the whole point of striving to be an artist is that you mustn’t compromise your soul and that’s what I was doing. I’ve been involved in too many projects where some cardboard-brained pillock has taken over and ruined a good idea. Furthermore, I’m brutal at negotiations and almost always short-change myself. The one piece of advice that I can offer to those wishing to make a profession of their art is: Don’t make your hobby into your job as I did. A good artist is an amateur in the real sense of the word. If money comes in as a result of my artistic endeavours, that’s great -it’ll allow me more latitude for art.
The upshot of all this navel-gazing is that I started teaching painting in my studio. That’s my day job. I turn up to work four times a week on two days and earn my wages. You can take a gander at my Art Classes Ireland site, if you like. In fact, teaching ticks many of the boxes for me:
  • Time. I work 12 hours a week -the rest of the week is mine, to do as I please. That includes the following: Painting my own compositions; taking on an illustration project from decent and respectful clients; staring out the window of a favourite café; playing the fiddle; doing raised-leg farts; organising paintings for exhibitions; thinking; farting while jumping up in the air and clicking my heels; catching up on my neglected blog[s]; meeting colleagues in cafés -and jointly staring out of the windows.
  • I meet great people -my students come to me because they like my work, so they want to be here.
  • I now know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing on two days of the week -that hasn’t happened for the last fifteen years. I’m the last person who should be left to organise my own week!
  • Choice. At long last I feel that it’s an easier prospect to reject offers of work by clients who I know won’t suit me.

To finish; currently I feel about as happy as I could be. I’m painting for myself. I’m not so pressured that I snap at my family. Sure, I don’t have much money but I have abundant other riches. I’m awash in a sea of love rather than swamped in the corrosive bilge-water of commerce.

Thanks for asking. How are you?

Bearding Michael O’Doherty

I’ve just read Marketing Magazine and saw the reference to Michael O’Doherty’s Sunday Times interview. I didn’t read the original article unfortunately. O’Doherty is quoted as saying that the one thing he’d change in Irish tax system is the artists’ exemption. “Seriously”, he’s quoted a saying, “why is it that someone who writes a crap book doesn’t have to pay tax, simply because they have a beard, whereas a team of well-groomed people who produce a brilliant magazine, do?”.
I do suppose that the man was joking [although it does start with the word ‘seriously’] or else that quote would win the Double Take accolade for being, witless, peevish and ignorant all at once. I do understand that people who pay tax regularly may feel aggrieved that a whole section of the workforce seems to be treated favourably [including myself; I’m a registered artist under the exemption scheme although I do pay tax on some work]. O’Doherty’s glib comments aside, it’s worth examining the system as it stands. First, the scheme for the much greater part, covers people whose income would not rise to the level where it would be taxed, anyway. [There was talk of capping the scheme: Here’s a quote from Visual Artists Ireland’s report on how the scheme has been adjusted: “The scheme therefore does not represent a cap of €250,000 on the artists exemption scheme but rather a cap on the percentage of total income that can be exempted from tax which applies to those who earn over €250,000. High earning artists whose total income is comprised of up to 50% of creative earnings and 50% of non creative earnings (from performing or merchandising for example) will not be effected by the new proposals no matter how much they earn. This is a significant difference to the implementation of a straight cap that was initially reported.” The likes of U2 are always thrown into the ring as an example of how this system is unfair but anyone working at that level of income has the motivation and resources to move their taxable status anywhere around the world.]
Art should be different from commerce; it shouldn’t follow the same rules -ie. produce at best cost -then sell for best price. Each artistic endeavour is only ready when it’s ready. Inordinate amounts of time and effort and research may go into a single production which couldn’t be charged for with at any reasonable hope that costs may be recouped. Paintings stay on easels for months or even years being re-worked, sculptures remain unfinished, plays undergo constant rewrites, all because it’s about a process which culminates in a finished unique work. It’s all about the endeavour and not about the pay-off which for the large part will never come. If the bearded artist’s book is crap, there’s a good chance it won’t sell; however, if the bearded artist’s book is brilliant, there’s still a good chance it won’t sell. In most cases, Beardy has to continue working in the day job -and pay tax.
Artists, live in the hope that one day, the fruits of their creativity will be appreciated enough to provide an income, or even just appreciated. The Irish tax system allows artists some hope of remaining as artists. Now imagine Michael O’Doherty of VIP, producing magazines month after month for years on his own before his magazine is recognised for its brilliance, merely because he felt inspired, thought it was important and he needed to put it out? Then, after a period of modest success, it falls out of favour with the public who have moved onto something else, with no other reason than the public is fickle. Most artists produce work for long periods of their lives without ever earning a living from it.
Further to all that, this visionary system attracts foreign talent that combines with our own, hopefully creating an environment that increases the cultural capital and therefore, the international profile of this country. We have to compete, culturally, with countries that plundered many of their treasures from defeated peoples during imperial wars. In comparison, I prefer the way we’re doing it. Under this system, Irish-born artists gain by having outside influences arriving at their doorstep, rather than having to leave these shores to seek them out. The fact that there are a few extraordinary and lucky characters that have risen to stratospheric levels of income is just the price we have to pay for this generally excellent scheme. And you may even find that they pay a certain amount of tax anyway.
All this is true, provided that art means something to you, of course. If all you really appreciate is superficial splendour and the trappings of financial success, then I could see your point.
Personally, I find that since the cabal of recent governments and business have made such a hames of the economy during the credit bubble, we need authenticity and creativity more and more. It’s through art that we can transcend the dreary repetition of day-to-day living and through creativity that we can control something in our lives. In other words, art is vital.
Being shown the gracious interiors of celebrities’ cribs and the revelry of the well-heeled month after month was always a somewhat vapid proposition and now seems somehow matted with irony and just a little embarrassing.
Finally; what’s wrong with beards anyway?

Painting Class has Begun

I’ve branched out somewhat and commenced painting classes in my studio. My inaugural class was last Tuesday morning when I had six students along and I started them off painting a single apple. My aim is to keep compositions simple, with perhaps a single object. 
I’ve seen many students in art classes, who may not have much experience, try to take on large compositions and become overwhelmed by the task they’ve set themselves. The philosophy at Art Classes Ireland is to gradually build up knowledge and confidence. The second principle is to have fun while learning -the atmosphere is relaxed and convivial. You can see the Art Classes Ireland web site here

Wine Label Illustration

I recently completed an illustration project for Brandever, the specialist brand developers for the global wine industry.

Brandever wished to create a series of circa 1900’s fruit wine labels that celebrate the old fashioned style of Fruit Crate Label art. With ten different wines currently in production at this winery, each line would feature a different illustration produced by nine different illustrators, other than me.

This blueberry dessert wine, called Sweet Nothings, obviously suggested a love theme and I sketched out various ‘love’ scenarios, including a Romeo and Juliette scene and swans, the symbol of fidelity.

You can click on the illustration below to see a reasonably sized version of the final illustration without the branding. Once you’ve done that, we can go and sit in my aviary and have a glass of how’s yer father.