THE GOLD RING COMMISSION
Ceoil Draíocht, beomhar agus binn… Music, magical, living and sweet.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING;
The Gold Ring. Chinese Inks on canvas
Since 2019 I have been developing the concept of representing on canvas the atmosphere created by musicians, storytellers, poets, dancers and singers. I contacted Muireann Ni Dhuigneain as I was particularly interested in finding some sacred harp music, and following that conversation she commissioned me to create a painting- leaving the brief wide open.
The painting evolved, a group of musicians emerged, seated around a table shaped like a fiddle. From the outset the musicians, even the instruments were not the focal point, rather the notes merging and blending.
Once I had the group in place I had the idea of inviting Muireann, a musician herself, to help me bring the painting to life.She visited my studio in Johnstown and Muireann produced a recording of ‘The Gold Ring’ played by Willie Clancy. The Gold Ring is a seven part jig, much loved by traditional musicians and said to have been channeled from the Other World.Coincidentally I had pre-prepared two smaller canvass, one featuring a fairy and one a harp, to use as a tutorial in mixing and applying Chinese inks.
The theme was set and after lunch we set about the main work. Muireann instinctively chose colours for each instrument, three for the Uileann piper, indigo for the bodhran ….and played music with finger tips dipped in colour directly on the canvas.
The painting took two more sessions in studio to complete- each one adding another layer of life and meaning to the finished work where I worked on the piece with Muireann looking on, advising. Two of the musicians took on personalities of actual people. Full creamy pints appeared on the table. The notes blended and a sweep of my fingers dipped in gold paint evoked gold rings suspended in the air above the players. The rings are not so obvious, appearing as light falls on the canvas.
I have always worked closely with clients when commissioned to create a painting.
This was a new experience to invite the client to become part of the actual painting process.
I feel the piece has the qualities we set out to evoke.
It’s Whats NOT There.
This Summer I was adopted by three robins. During the fabulous lockdown weather I spent most hours in the garden, clearing ivy, reading,..Three robins accompanied me wherever I was and it got to the stage that no matter what room I was even inside the house, one or other would be perched by the window right outside.
Our three dogs come and go in and out the back door at will. Having to get in ahead of the robins and close the door before they came in too became a habit.
One morning I had a dream one was in the house (again). I was woken by my mother calling me saying –“Do you know there is a robin outside your bedroom door?”
Two weeks ago there were just two, not three. Last week one perched on the top of the old magnolia branch I have ‘planted’ as a prop to hold the bird feeders and made the same note, over and over - not a song, but a constant ‘peep’ - looking me in the eye for a solid 5 minutes. I reaiise now that was it’s ‘goodbye’ – Robins may nest in a couple of different locations during the Summer and they are off to pastures new now.
A friend from Clare has a lovely phrase – ‘Some things and some people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime’. I enjoyed the company of the three robins and wish them well in their new garden.
#SundayWink this 5th July 2020 goes to longevity.
I have been producing greeting cards from my artwork since 2002. Not all my paintings make it onto cards, but those that do seem to have staying power (whenever I do a commissioned piece I create a personalised greeting card file for the client’s sole use – but that’s a different line of work.)
In the past couple of weeks I created a pack – a real mixture - of my cards and they have gone very well. It’ s the same with everything we do - the knock on effect lasts and fans out like ripples in a lake.
An uplifting and scary thought at the same time!