Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Evolution Of A Family Portrait.

Over the last four months or so I've been working on an interesting commission. A 36"X42" Family Portrait. 

As with any large piece almost as much time has to go into the planning as the execution. In this case there was a lot of communicating with the family. Meeting, sketching and photographing every family member, getting to know their body language and character and discussing  colour palette, mood, theme and composition.

Any portrait is always quite a collaborative process but with a large group portrait its really important to understand the dynamics and interpersonal aspects of how the subjects relate to one another. 

An early compositional sketch

preparatory sketches

It started with casual socialising and observing. Chatting to the kids, watching them interact, and of course speaking to their parents. I came up with a few ideas for a composition and we settled on semi formal poses in an outdoor setting. 

Preparatory study

With seven figures in the 
composition it was important to keep the figures working harmoniously together but also to retain their individual character. It was clear to me that everyone in the family were all quite strongly individualistic as people. But at the same time, no one would want to steal the show or outshine anyone else. 

Initial oil sketch on canvas
The family were looking for a very specific, gentle, almost pastel colour palette and mood, which was best served by light shades of rose Doré and cadmium yellow, with manganese and Cobalt blue in the shadows for a hint of a classic impressionist feeling.  

under construction
I worked in layers of transparent glazes. This technique takes some time but is really worth it , particularly for delicate colours as you can refine the tone, line and hue carefully as you go. Working from dark to light.  

colour and line becoming more refined as the painting progresses. 
At last it was finished and shipped. I think it captured something of this gentle but vibrant group of people who's love and appreciation for one another was so evident.  I hope they enjoy it for many years to come. 


Thursday, June 27, 2019

A short profile on Visual Artists Ireland.

I'm delighted to have been included in the Regional Roundup for Kerry. Along with several other Kerry artists who'm I am lucky enough to know. Shoutout to Mieke Vanmechelen and Samuel Laurence Cunnane.

Link Here. All credit to Visual Artists Ireland Credit to John O Shea for the photograph.

Diana Muller

I’m one of the 3rd generation of artists working and exhibiting at Brushwood Studios in Parknasilla Woods, Co. Kerry. The Studios were established in 1978.
I work mostly in oil paint on canvas, with occasional segues into ink or watercolour. Stylistically, I combine elements of figurative, landscape and abstract art in my pieces. I’m currently heavily influenced by the history of the Kerry landscape including ruins and archeological subjects and folklore. For the last year I’ve been working almost exclusively on large canvas (4-5 ft square.)
My personal workspace is a wooden structure with large, removable, doors surrounded by trees. I prefer to work outside or as near to it as possible. I always start my oil painting backgrounds outdoors on dry, windy days in order to blow the paint across the canvas and create a lace like effect, and dry them outside flat on the grass. Sometimes I’ll also use the effect of rain on the canvas and its reaction to the linseed oil in the background of the painting also.
The work I’m most proud of provokes an emotional response, not just in me, but also for the viewer. What that response is, exactly, will depend on the viewer themselves. But I hope my work leaves an enduring positive impression on those who look at it or live with it.
I love my job. I hope people looking at my work experience even a fraction of the joy I get in the act of creating it.
As an artist, what are the key challenges that you face on a daily basis?
I suppose the same as any artist faces, finding the balance between creating art in the studio while also running a business, promotion and things like facilitating art workshops and lessons.
There is a phenomenon that affects self employed people in general, particularly women, in that their work time is easily encroached on by others, there isn’t as much respect for the work a self employed person does at home, even thought its just as vital as if they went to an office every day.
With artists it's particularly bad because there’s almost always an external demand for free time, materials and work in, for example, community based activities, and collaborations (usually unpaid) which wouldn’t be expected of other professions.
In Ireland the art scene is very small and cliquey, as a result there is a lot of nepotism and gatekeeping. It’s not easy to get your work ‘out there’ unless you know the right people, live in the right place, attended the right institutions and have a lot of money. So one has to find creative ways around that. Particularly down in Kerry.
What inspires you most about Kerry?
I suppose the obvious answer would be the landscape, which is a huge factor for me. But equally I would say the people, the stories and the culture tied to the landscape. There’s a gentle anarchy in the Kerry culture. We don’t like fitting in, we don’t like being told what to do. We don’t make a revolutionary fuss about things but we aren’t naturally obedient. Even the landscape is unkempt and not manicured or orderly. I love that.
What is your top tip for fellow artists?
Put your own practice first, always. Collaboration with a few trusted associates and the synergy from that can work well, but don’t spread yourself too thin. Not that you cant learn a lot from other people, but remember that your own inspiration creates your best work. So ignore any naysayers and don’t take even constructive criticism too seriously, especially if those giving it don’t have practical knowledge of your process. Don’t be constrained by a style, subject or trend. Create in ways that make you happy.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Small Roads Theatre 'n Dining Festival 2017.

Small Roads Theatre and Dining Festival is the brainchild of Kerry musician and entertainer Dezy Walls. Utilising Small Theatres and local talent, the folk behind the festival will be bringing six plays on the road all over Kerry and Cork between September 22-November 12th.

I'm delighted to say that Brushwood Studios is providing the set set design again this year. In an unusual approach the sets are paintings, printed large, as backdrops. Here are some examples of last year's sets. The camera doesn't do them justice though the live shows were spectacular.

Hay Fever
Not the Life I Ordered
Not the Life I Ordered
Shirley Valenitine

Here are two specially commissioned pieces by myself for the play Glorious. I'm looking forward to seeing them on stage I cant wait to join in the festivities!

Judy Garland

Frank Sinatra

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Things You Find Under The Stone.

Things You Find Under The Stone. 

For those buried by Irish institutions 1765-1996 

Did you feel deep inside
that you deserved no candle
no hope of light eternal
as they had taught you?

Or hold some tiny spark
some ember in your heart
that beat its burning fists
against the walls of domination?

Though the world was silent
they swallowed the lie entire
and watched your pain unmoved
The stones cried out and cut the sky.

In the end she did reclaim you
her brambles twined about you
her waters wrapped around you
like someone who loved you.

Broke through concrete and mortar
grew into the silent halls and cellars
sent light dripping into your tiny cell
brought them low as Jericho.

She whispered in your ear
that you are as she intended
perfect in your fallen flesh
all she ever wanted.

An emblem of the kingdom
all full of holy light and fire
bursting with desire and song
dwelling far from their mansions.

The stream sings your glorification
for you are under the stones
and inside the knotted trees
within your Mother’s house.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The 2016 Visual Arts Showcase.

 This year I’m participating in the Kerry Visual Arts Showcase.  An exhibition which runs at Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Killarney, Co. Kerry from September 16th – October 15th 2016.

 I’m delighted to be hanging in the same talented company as  Deirdre McKenna, Pat Owen, Miroslava Pavelkova, Joseph Keating, Des Fitzgerald and Diarmuid O'Sullivan.

The Exhibition was curated by Orla Flynn and funded by Kerry County Council and the Arts Council.

This is one of my pieces. Titled A Head Full Of Hills. Inspired by the courage and talent of My friend Eilise O’Sullivan. A dancer who was raised in the Black Valley. One of the most remote and beautiful parts of Co. Kerry. 

A Head Full Of Hills. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

This Summer In New York.

What can I say about my eight year collaboration with Jeffery F. Barken? 

I first met Jeff in 2007. He was a student hitchhiking around Ireland. My Aunt picked him up and brought him home. We sat and talked about our hobbies, studies and plans for the future. I could tell even then that Jeffrey was more serious about his writing than most kids his age. 

We stayed in touch and, a few years later, he contacted me regarding his new idea for a magazine called monologging.org, a global project that would facilitate collaboration between different artistic disciplines. I'd never heard of anything like it before. 

I suppose the work we have since embarked on together can be viewed as a trilogy.

The first completed collaborative project on monologging.org was Mackerel. Jeff wrote a story inspired by his time in Galway and I painted two corresponding oil on canvas pictures. The result was a three dimensional, interactive experience. Jeff wrote the story in short installments and I sketched the action and experimented. The final paintings were organic in their conception and by the time we finished the project we better understood each other’s work and creative process.
Sketch- Mackerel

Painting under construction - Mackerel
Shoal- Finished painting for Mackerel. 

 Around that time Jeff started sending me more of his writing, including a novel titled Idle in September. The story chronicled the lives of several young musicians. They form a bluegrass band and tour the US in the aftermath of 9/11. These were the characters that would stay with me for the next few years. Jeff never published Idle, but he continued to develop his characters and prose in a series of short stories that he published in May 2013, entitled This Year in Jerusalem. I was delighted to contribute a series of India ink and acrylic illustrations to the book that he designed.

Cover for This Year in Jerusalem
Our work on This Year in Jerusalem was more organized than the Mackerel project and I was fascinated by the notion of bringing these characters to life. By using the same characters, sometimes likeable, sometimes severely flawed, somehow always sympathetic, in many different, yet interconnected stories, Jeff created his own little universe. The trials, joys and troubles these actors experience never actually end, they go on to live in Jeff’s other works. Their collective journeys through the heartland of the USA, the Middle East, and finally New York City comprise a creative saga. 

An illustration from This year in Jerusalem.

So that brings us, along with Ari Shultz, Miles Fletcher, Ethan Mav and other prominent characters to the sinister world of All the Lonely Boys in New York.
All the Lonely Boys In New York - Cover

For which I was honored to design the cover and illustrations. The cover was by far the most challenging of the three projects. How does one sum up a story Like All The Lonely Boys In New York in one image?

Illustration from All the Lonely Boys In New York
 The book is at once personal, intimate and immense. A scathing social commentary on the 21st century, distilling many complex ideas into a deceptively simple story. Eventually we settled on a scene from the last page. The importance of which will resonate with anyone who has read the book. 

Illustration from All the Lonely Boys In New York

For the book launch and subsequent exhibition in New York on June 25th, Jeff and I will be collaborating with a wonderful collage artist named Dara Lorenzo, who has incorporated my illustrations into her collages. 

So we go back to the roots of the project: Jeff has prompted me to engage and interpret his work, Dara, in turn, has indulged my art. This exciting concept for encouraging artistic collaboration on a global scale is the magic behind Monologging.org. 

What a journey it’s been! I’m glad to have been there from the beginning and see this talent take shape. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Unveiling My Portraits.

Today is YomHaShoa. It's been three years since I started this project. But I was finally able, last week, to publicly display my portraits of Irish Holocaust survivors at the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin at the old Synagogue. It was a wonderful event and I’m so glad I could be part of it. The four paintings had to come home with me for safe keeping but will be available for exhibitions for the rest of the year. 

There is a temporary exhibition at the Museum, of sketches and prints,  for the next four Sundays. 

Taking with Jan Kaminski, one of the survivors I painted.
Photo credit: Fionán O'Connell

The temporary display at the Museum.
Photo credit: Fionán O'Connell

Holocaust Survivor Tomi Reichenthal with his Portrait.
Photo credit: Fionán O'Connell

The Four Oil Portraits.
Photo credit: Fionán O'Connell

This is a tribute to some of those who survived and built their lives in Ireland. Four members of the community immortalised in portraiture, whose lives have served as an example that the human spirit can stand against brutality. Their portraits tell the story.

A portrait makes people take notice. We automatically ask ourselves who the person was and why an artist chose to paint them. My goal in painting these four individuals was to provoke exactly these questions. If one person sees these paintings and wonders, asks or reads then I will feel I have done something worthwhile.

There may be a time in the future, when the war is no longer in living memory, when we no longer identify with our history. But a portrait can last for centuries and a story can live forever.

Zoltan Zinn-Collis as a child. Pastel sketch. 
Edit Zinn-Collis as a child. Pastel sketch. 
We will not forget you.

The statistics lie like bones
They blow on the wind
like a flock of birds they reshape themselves
into something we can understand
a seven digit number.

We will not forget you.

We are not ink on paper

we are not to be quantified in ledgers
and be it in their millions

or one alone

every soul
 should be remembered.

We will not forget you.

One in the line at the corner of his eye

Two in the curve of her mouth when she smiled
Three in the hands that lifted a child

Four in the movement of shoulders at work
Five in the eyes that saw

Six in the mouth that spoke.

We will not forget you.

Diana Muller 2015.