Posts Tagged ‘horizons’

Sketchbook drawings from Ireland

December 4, 2011

Spent a couple of days scanning in pages from some of my Balinglen Sketchbooks to send to someone.  A boring chore but actually it was lovely to look again at those images and remember the when the where the light the weather and the things I had forgotten about. Realised there are some many ideas here that I want to take further.


London, Maine, New York.

June 13, 2011

May has been quite a month.  The highlights were the very successful opening of A Field Guide to Getting Lost at the Pelavin Gallery in New York and spending a wonderful week with fellow Pelavin Gallery artist Kate Beck in Maine.  My month started with Juan Miro at Tate Modern, interesting but not really my thing, continued with, Richard Serra at The Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, Eva Hesse and Sol Le Witt drawings, more Serra, Arshile Gorky and Cy Twombly at Gagosian and ended with the Donald Judd exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery, New York all of which were definitely my thing.  In Maine, apart from eating lobster, de rigueur in that part of the world, and being entranced by clapboard houses,  the yellowness of yellow school buses and the amazing bird life it was yet again the sea which grabbed my attention.  Shrouded in mist, day in day out, it was mysterious, all-enveloping and  an irresistible drawing resource.

Piercing the grey mist and the oily surface of the sea at Popham Beach near Bath ospreys fished watched by seals  and groups of cormorants.  In Harpswell a  kamekase American Robin, much bigger than its European counterparts, acted the part of either Othello or Narcissus in its  love hate affair with car wing  mirrors. Blackbirds with red/orange splodges on their sides were everywhere and just once I glimpsed a beautiful red and yellow Baltimore Oriel.  I saw art too.  The Biennial exhibition was  on at Portland Museum and a beautiful installation of large scale drawings of trees using text as line on clear film particularly caught my eye.

Avy Claire  For the Trees  2008.  rapidograph on polyester film.

Once in New York it was the not the yellowness of the taxis which caught my eye more a case of being glad I was sitting in the back with a seatbelt on!  The show at Pelavin looked really sharp – not a piece out of place and the work hung together really well.  The preview was stuffed full of people, like sardines.   Like many previews more talking and drinking than looking but people spilled out onto the street in a cacophonous mass creating a real buzz of excitement.

Next day in soaring temperatures we headed for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Richard Serra Drawing Exhibition.  Huge areas of dense black mark-making floating  in high-ceilinged white spaces, the powerful physicality of the work intensified by the strong smell of oil stick.  Subtle shifts of line as the edge of the canvas sloped down, out of parallel with the line of the floor, cleverly unhinged the viewers sense of safety. More Serra’s, Circles, were on show at the Gagosian.  Unlike the vast rectangles at the Met these were more human in scale – less monumental – lovely.  Somehow a very good size to work with.

Horizons Sketchbook – Shortlisted for the Sketch Drawing Prize

March 27, 2011

My Horizons Sketchbook containing 55 double-page spread drawings of the changeable, mesmerising view of the sea in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo has been shortlisted for the Sketch Drawing Prize at Rabley Drawing Centre.

During my Fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in September/October, 2010, my house faced the sea and every day I drew the rapidly changing vista from my window; the light, the weather, and the mountains appearing and disappearing like ghosts. The exhibition, Sketch National Drawing Prize 2011 which contains 40 sketchbooks by 38 shortlisted artists from all over the UK, will open on 9 April through 28 May and then tour nationally for a year.  Looking at some of the other artists who have been selected I think it will be a fascinating exhibition and I am very honoured to be part of it.  It was selected by Deanna Petherbridge, artist and author of ‘The Primacy of Drawing’, Meryl Ainsley, Director of Rabley Drawing Centre and artist Sandie Sykes.

discovering drawings at the British Museum and continuing to paint in my studio

January 23, 2011

Going to any exhibition is always a delight but discovering an artist for the first time is very special.  At the British Museum last week in the exhibition Picasso to Julie Mehretu Modern drawings from the British Museum Collection, I came across the drawings of Edda Renouf.  I was blown away by her exquisite, timeless, quiet work.  It is very beautiful and her philosophy is in tune with the ideas that inform my own work. The following quote from Edda Renouf’s 2009 Statement, which I found on her website and am printing here with her permission, is particularly significant.

My works are thus a record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created becoming a journal of my working process, while at the same time their structures and signs relate to thoughts and memory; to music and sound, themes that point to the idea of ‘making the invisible visible’ thereby revealing the movement and hidden presence of wave structures in our universe and again the abstract energy within my materials.’

© Edda Renouf,  2009.


Picasso to Julie Mehretu  Modern drawings from the British Museum Collection, Room 90, is on until 25 April 2011. It is a really good show with work that ranges from a huge Michaelangelo cartoon, German expressionist George Grosz, Gerhard Richter and finally a small black and white Julie Mehretu.  I have Catherine De Zegher’s book on Mehretu, (Rizzoli, 2007) but haven’t seen her work in the flesh before so was disappointed, expecially since the show is titled from Picasso to Mehretu, to find that there was only one drawing by her. However there is  a fine line drawing, Untitled Subway Drawing by William Anastasi which absorbed my attention.  A show which takes up two rooms,  is always a treat; time to really look intently at each piece and not too many visitors because it hasn’t had the blockbuster marketing treatment.


Life in the studio continues.


Finished this week; Unstable Horizon painting 5.   oil charcoal and graphite on canvas.  80 x 100 cms, 31 x 40 ins.  above, details below

there is something about horizons fading into darkness

January 14, 2011

At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,

The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable

And you are in the dark again.

These lines from Seamus Heaney’s  ‘The Peninsula’ have a particular resonance for me and the whole poem is a magical evocation of shoreline reminding me of Achill.  They accompanied me as I came to the end of  my first large Unstable Horizons painting.  Heaney talks of breakers being ‘shredded into rags‘,  ‘leggy birds‘ which suggest to me the exquisite white egrets which stand in the river that runs alongside my studio; and ‘Islands riding themselves out into the fog‘. Achill again.  Such wonderful imagery.  Seamus Heaney’s collection Opened Ground Poems 1966-1996 was on my wish list but I ended up buying it myself.  Couldn’t wait! And it is wonderful.

The painting, for now just Unstable Horizon Painting 3, has been looking at me for weeks daring me to put the final marks on it.  Pencil, graphite, charcoal one after the other in destabilising lines, blowing charcoal dust all over the studio as I go.  Then covering the surface with butter soft paint and cautiously scraping it away again, stopping  the charcoal from smudging and muddying the paint.

Top. Unstable Horizon Painting.  Oil charcoal and graphite on canvas, 80 x 100 cms. 31 x 40 inches.

Below.   from my sketchbook, Achill Island

Unstable horizons

October 9, 2010

The horizon continues to obsess me as it moves in and out of sight with the changes in light.

graphite on arches hot press 56 x 76 cms.

However I am struggling with where to go with all of this.


I finished the big painting I brought with me

and have done several more smaller drawings with zinc white acrylic and graphite

But I return again and again to the horizon and its instability.

Notes from my sketchbook


Capturing the gap between the sky and the sea

September 27, 2010

Lashing rain and a spectacularly stormy night!  The rain was running vertically down the windowpanes as if it was being poured out of a bucket!  This morning from my window the wind is tearing in from the west and the sea is tumultuous, changeable, treacherous.  The colour moves from un-lightened grey to blues to yellow greys.  One second I can see the horizon and the next the line where the sea and sky meet has been rubbed out.  The rain advances in diagonal slashing lines across the fields like an opaque layer of air obscuring my view of the water, and always the wind pushing and tossing the trees, its sound battling for supremacy with the noise of the waves.  I thought I was missing the drama of Kerry – was – but no longer!

Now one day later, a calmer morning and as I sit down at my window I  can see a range of mountains on the horizon line!  I have been looking at this view and drawing it for a week thinking that there was just the sea endlessly until it met the sky but now it is interrupted by an undulating blush grey mass cutting into the pale of the sky. So now I have my mountains too!

Daily Drawings of my changeable view

Notes from my sketchbook

On Sunday I drove out West.  A much wilder landscape; long straight open roads with sheep wandering on and off the road.  Hills with fringes of dark trees were up ahead and at Bielderg  a strange hillside curving around on itself as it circled the small harbour.

Subverting the line

September 6, 2008

I am still working on painting number three (see Drawing into painting post for the two finished ones) and I like the way the drawing part has centralised into a sort of rolling horizon, rather like the first of the large drawings below. The lines feel as if they are tumbling over one another. I have also been developing the Cill Rialaig Wall sketches and combining them with memories of the walks that I did up to Bolus Head.

The painting is leading me further into investigating just the line which cuts across the centre of the space on a sheet of white paper. I like the idea of constantly subverting that line so that it is always moving, always fluid, a bit like the surface of the sea. The line is pulled and stretched constantly diverted from its apparent aim of slicing the space precisely into two halves.

Cill Rialaig Walk

Sketchbook drawings