Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Halloowe'en everyone...Hope the Great Pumpkin visits you and brings you lots of you can tell as per my yearly tradition, I just watched the absolutely wonderful 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'. Sorry for the not-so-great photo, our pumpkin kept laughing and it was tricky to get a non-blurry shot of him! Don't forget to keep your pets inside tonight! : )

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Parasaur Plushie

Another plushie I made, this time a female Parasaurolophus which was promptly adopted by Neen. Original pattern is by the talented IsisMasshiro and the original pattern is available here!

Christmas and Dinosaurs!

I mentioned these briefly in my last post, Neen and her sister Tuna were at the 'Knit and Stitch' show in the RDS yesterday, and knowing how much I love Christmas she bought me this material to make some festive projects this year! I love 'em! Any ideas?

Dude Day!

Neen and her little sis' Tuna went to Dublin today to attend the Knit and Stitch show being held in the RDS. As her brother and sister usually come up on a friday today it was just Ant and I. When he dropped up we had some lunch then went out to the studio. Ant booted up his computer and I mine, and for a few hours we just listened to music, chatted and pottered about doing our own respective things. I was working on an illustration and Ant visited some sites, played online scrabble...that sort of thing!

We then decided to watch a movie...I raided the DVD pile and we picked 'Avatar'. It's such a great film...I've seen it many times at this stage, but enjoyed it just as much! After the movie Ant and I popped on the Wii and played some Wii Bowling, Golf, Tennis and a few other games. I lost every single game but it was a lot of fun none-the-less! At this stage it was just shy of ten and Neen and Shauna finally arrived home after a long day of walking, talking and shopping! They told us all about their day and showed us the things they bought. Neen brought me home some really cool fabric and ribbon, loads of different Christmas patterns for some festive projects! I cant wait to get creatin' Neen also found some really cool dinosaur and owl buttons too! Thanks hun, I love 'em!

The ladies are in bed now and Ant and I are in the sitting room with the cats about to watch another film, ....Dude day was a complete success, lots of Coke, junk food and testoterone fuelled tomfoolery!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pet Mosasaur Plushie

I love to sew, I learnt pretty young how to both hand and machine sew but it is a practical skill I have neglected in recent years. I'm always inspired by the wonderful plushies I see here online but haven't really tried creating one before. 

I found this wonderful pattern on deviantART yesterday and immediately decided to make it. My first attempt is a lot smaller than I'd like. (approx. 13in/34cm in lenght) I only had enough material to create one this size, but I'm going to get some more fleece today, hopefully two shades of gray or something to make a larger one.

Thank you so much IsisMasshiro for the wonderful pattern you made available. If you haven't already seen IsisMasshiro's work check it out now!!! : ) Click the links below to see both the pattern and IsisMasshiro's original plushie.

Origami Stegosaurus

I love Origami, but the majority of my attempts thus far haven't turned out so well. I bought some really nice coloured paper in Lidl a few weeks back and really wanted to try out origami again. So I searched the net for a free diagram and stumbled across this guy, an Origami Stegosaurus. I love Stegosaurs, so I was really hoping to do the wonderful design justice. Here is the source of he original design: Origami Stegosaurus which also includes a link to a downloadable .pdf of the instructions! Happy folding!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Alma' by Rodrigo Blaas

Baboro 2010 - Day 1 Monday

Day 1: Monday morning I had two school groups dropping by for a chat and to view the exhibition. 37 students from Claddagh Primary School and 49 from Scoil na bhForbacha. This was the first time either myself or Baboro had held a 'Meet the Artist' session in a busy environment such as this. It was a definite learning curve, and while the first meeting was difficult in ways I learned a lot about the benefits and limitations of working in such a bustling and noisy locale. By the second group I had a fair idea of what worked and didn't work and was able to adjust the school sessions accordingly making the afternoon group a great success. 

For the visiting schools I created 3 possible activities for them to take part in during their visit. Which and how many of the three they undertook depended on a number of variables. Size of group, age of students and time available. Therefore each group had a program tailored to suit their individual needs. The exercises were as follows.

1. Post-its - What are the characters within each picture saying and thinking? I challenged the kids to look at the characters within each image and imagine what they were saying to one another. I then transcribed the children's ideas onto post-its and stuck them to the paintings themselves. This was a lot of fun and a bit of an ice-breaker. The idea behind this activity was simple. Galleries and framed art in general can often be quite daunting for young and old alike. It's easy to feel intimidated. I wanted the kids to feel relaxed and understand the artwork was there to be engaged with and talked about.

2. Scavenger Hunt - Find and count elements within the paintings. This was a hugely popular exercise. I compiled 20 questions, the answers only attainable by looking very closely at my illustrations. Some were easy, others more difficult. The questions were designed to work for any age, interaction between the child, parent/teacher and myself was the key to completing the list as some questions were only answerable once one asked for help. Saying that I never divulged the actual answers. For example ''How many snails can you find? The exact number of snails hidden or otherwise was unimportant. The act of looking was the important bit. No child's answers were ever graded...whether you found 10, 11 or 12 snails everyone left assuming they had found them all.

3. Drawing - while the shear size of some of the groups made a mini drawing session impossible I did manage to hold one with a select few. When dealing with kids and their art, at all costs I avoid 'teaching' them. I prefer to draw alongside them. They learn by watching me, and I from watching them. Children should never ever be criticized when creating, constructive or otherwise. A child's view of the world is concise and perfect and unfortunately very easily tarnished by the awkward and unsolicited comments of parents, siblings, friends and teachers.

I absolutely love meeting school groups like this. The kids are honest, funny, intelligent and I always learn a lot from them about myself and my work. I left the centre late Monday night and went home to have dinner with the missus and prepare for the following morning!

Baboró 2010 - Sunday

Last week was the Baboro International Arts Festival for Children. To coincide with the festival I held an Exhibition of 26 original watercolour illustrations along the old medieval town wall in the Eyre Square Centre Galway. The exhibition and of course festival have been mentioned before on both of my blogs but here is a day by day breakdown of the past weeks happenings.

Sunday: Sunday evening after the official launch (which you can read about here) I cycled into town to hang the exhibition. This was a smidge trickier than one would imagine. The floor itself is cobbled and therefor uneven, the wire system was hanging from quite a few meters above so to begin with I didn't have a straight line on either the ground or ceiling to work from. A secondary problem was this. The wall was slightly sloped and naturally given the fact I was hanging on a stone surface the wall was quite uneven. All this simply meant it took me the better part of three hours to make sure all 26 images were as straight as possible. It was definitely worth it in the end though. I love the setting, the Eyre Square Centre was and is a wonderful spot for an exhibition.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Disney Goodness!

Neen and I were in town for a couple of hours earlier, she was picking up some material for a project she is in fact sewing as I type. We dropped into HMV for a quick look and I found these. 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' and 'Pinnochio' They were part of a buy one get one free offer. In particular I cant wait to watch the behind the scenes featurettes on these. You just cant beat Golden Era Disney. 20 years time, you wont be able to give away copies of 'Shrek', or 'Ice Age'...but traditionally animated films such as these will remain  timeless classics. It's so hard to believe they were created in 1937 and 1940 respectively.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Look what I found...

I love Reese's Pieces...I haven't had them in years!

You've Got Mail!

I was in the dining room today, sorting, cleaning and wrapping the few unsold illustrations from the exhibition when there was a knock on the door. Through the clear glass pane of the front door I saw the immediately recognizable silhouette of a deliver man. Neither Neen or myself had ordered anything so I assumed the package was intended for a neighbor. When I opened the door to my great surprise I found out the delivery was indeed addressed to me.

Bemused curious and excited in equal measure I returned to the dining room with a giant cardboard box. I lay it on the table, showed Neen and said "This is a really nice surprise, I've gotta blog about this tonight". So before I even opened the box I grabbed the camera from the studio and snapped a quick photo.

When I opened the cardboard box I was greeted with a dense sea of brown paper. I pulled out one sheet, then another and sitting in the very bottom of the large box was a second, smaller cardboard box. I carefully lifted out the box and inside found these...

A brand new pack of 60 Faber-Castell Polychromos Colouring Pencils.

I use this particular type of pencil for pretty much all my traditional artwork. In truth I'd be completely lost without them. They work exceptionally well with acrylic and watercolour, so I don't use any other type of colouring pencil whatsoever. This set is amazing and is packed to the brim with colours I have never used before...I can't wait to try them all out!

So who sent them?....Well before I divulge exactly who the generous party was, let me preface by showing you this, a journal post of mine from earlier this year.

"I use Faber-Castell Polychromos colouring pencils every day. Art wise I'd be completely lost without them. They are amazing and I have always recommended them to fellow artists. Well I use four particular shades more than any other. Unfortunately I've only been able to buy theses four shades in large multipacks. (Most others you can buy individually) I contacted Faber-Castell Ireland yesterday to enquire whether I could buy them directly from the manufacturer, This morning the owner had sent me as a gift 4 boxes of the colours I use! A small but very very much appreciated gesture! If you haven’t tried them before I recommend going down to your local Art and Hobby and picking up a couple. They retail at approximately €1 each and are worth every cent." Morgan O'Brien, January 22nd, Deviant Art Journal Entry.

Well that was January, and since then those boxes have proved a life-saver. Every single image in my recent exhibition was created with the gifted pencils. When sending out invite's to the exhibition a week or two ago I took a chance and contacted Faber-Castell Ireland to thank them again for their generosity and invite them to the show. Quite understandably the owner of the Faber-Castell Ireland franchise Tom Martin couldn't make it, but I was happy I had at least extended the invitation.

No doubt the mystery package is thanks to Tom and the rest of the team at Faber-Castell Ireland. Thanks guys...the gift is hugely appreciated and a massive surprise! : )

Faber-Castell Ireland

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anniversary, Football Shirts & Visits to the Dentist

After a very very hectic but fun week, this years Baboro International Arts Festival for children is over, I will post detail's and photos about this years festival and my exhibition in the next few days on both this blog and on my art blog...

This weekend, Sunday to be precise was our first wedding anniversary, coincidentally the 23rd of this month, this Saturday, is our official 10 year anniversary too. On Saturday night my beautiful wife and I went out to celebrate. We had dinner in Cooke's Restaurant Galway, a favorite spot of ours. (Although we tend to save it for very special occasions.) Neen had her regular and favorite meal: Crispy Potato Skins Filled with Bacon  and Mozzarella Cheese Served with Garlic Cream AND Baked Fillet of Salmon Finished with Lemon Butter, Served with Creamy Mash Potatoes. I had Vegetable soup with Homemade Bread AND Tenderloin Fillets of Pork Cooked in Mushrooms and Cream, Served with Saute Potatoes. Everything was so so good, and the service is great! If ever in Galway and looking for a special spot to eat, definitely check out Cooke's!

Before we went home Saturday night Neen and I dropped by the 50th birthday party of a family friend Anne, a 70's themed bash! It was great seeing Anne, Dermot, Dave, Brendan, John and Joy and the rest of the clan!

I had to work for much of Sunday and was really bummed, I had family workshops in the morning and had to take down the exhibition that evening. I eventually arrived home, tired and looking forward to a relaxed and wonderful evening with the missus. We exchanged gifts and cards, had some dinner, then chatted and relaxed on the couch! I had a lot of trouble this year finding the perfect gift for Neen, for the past two weeks I've been in and out of every jewelry store in town. I just couldn't find the what I was looking for. I really didn't want to settle for something "nice" I wanted something extra special. Saturday evening I finally found exactly what I had been searching for, A Belleek Pearl Drop "Beau" Necklace. I loved it the minute I spotted it, The necklace was simple, elegant and unlike anything I have ever seen. Neen luckily loved it too and has been wearing it since. I also bought her some very funky earrings and a big bouquet of her favorite flowers.

I was completely spoiled. Neen gave me not one but two jerseys!...I absolutely love replica shirts, you can't really get me anything better. She gave me the brand new white Umbro Ireland Away kit, the nicest Ireland kit to be released in years and Liverpool's new home goalkeeper shirt. These kits are extra special to be for a couple of 1 I haven't had an Ireland shirt since 2002, I'm pretty picky and none of them 'spoke to me' up until this one AND as for the Liverpool shirt....Liverpool are having arguably their worst season in the clubs history, we are drowning in the bottom end of the table, it's at times such as these I think fans of the club should get behind their team in any and every way possible! I will be wearing my Liverpool shirt with pride....I absolutely love 'em both...thanks hun! : )

This morning I had to go to the dentist to finally have a broken tooth removed, I originally went two weeks ago but given the state of the tooth in question extraction was postponed until after my exhibition. I was worried sick as I've never even had a filling and the whole local anesthetic thing was a completely new experience to me.  I was really lucky in the end, the dentist in question was quite apprehensive about how exactly the tooth should be removed, we were pretty positive given the degree of erosion the tooth would shatter completely once a removal was attempted. I have pretty strong teeth and to our surprise it stayed in tact and the whole event passed off with out any trauma what so ever. My sister Genny attends the same dentist and coincidentally had an appointment just prior to my own, she had the unpleasant experience of having a wisdom tooth removed. In our dribbly, numb-faced post-procedure state we christened each other "tooth-buddies", as I type this blog we are both suffering the after effects in our own respective homes! Feel better Gen!

If interested you can read more about our anniversary and see Neens birthday necklace here on Neens Blog!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Busy Busy Baboró Bee

It has been a crazy busy week for me...I have a solo exhibition starting monday and to corespond with that will also be holding workshops and meeting school groups. (All as part of this years Baboró International Arts Festival for Children.) A custom hanging system is being installed in the Eyre Square center this weekend in preparation for the exhibition which I will, with any luck be hanging Sunday evening. I have been busying myself contacting various individuals, businesses and organizations who might be interested in seeing the exhibit, finalizing details for the workshops and meet the artist sessions, plus a million other things.

It could be worse though, I've had a killer tooth ache for the past three months, after much coercion  I finally went to the dentist tuesday...I'm not a fan of dentists, doctors either come to think of it. I've luckily been able to avoid the former for the past 16 years. Any way I finally went to the dentist to get the tooth in question, a dodgy molar pulled. Unfortunately/fortunately nothing could be done on the morning, the tooth will have to be surgically removed (ouch) but given my schedule at the moment the operation is being postponed until after the exhibition. In the mean time however they applied a temporary fix which has all but eradicated the pain thank God! Not looking forward to my next appointment at all though. I cant imagine how I'd be managing my current workload if still in the pain I have, up until yesterday been in.

It isn't in truth an ideal time for an exhibition, economically Ireland is in ruins. I wouldn't be at all surprised if not a single piece sells...the bitter truth is, no one seems to have any expendable income. The political climate too is leaving everyone apprehensive, confused and above all frustrated. There is mass unemployment, rising levels of emigration and daily business and residential foreclosures.

Ironically that equally makes now a perfect time to hold an exhibition. People desperately need cheering up. I kinda like the idea that this show is being held in a shopping center, it's my first show outside of the gallery system. and will hopefully open up my work to a much wider audience, many of whom probably wouldn't have seen my new collection had it been in a gallery. 

There's a piece of grafiti in Galway...nothing more than a quick 5-second spray. It says "I hope that when you see me you smile" It's truly wonderful.That's exactly what this exhibition is all about. I hope people in the midst of a hectic work shift, or at the end of  a grueling day of school, stumble upon my art, stop for a minute, smile to themselves and even if only for a moment forget their troubles.

On a more mundane point, Hope has an entire room full of prospective spots to bed, various arm rests, the couch...but no! She has instead positioned herself on my a lap in between myself and the netbook, making it pretty difficult to type. Sora on the other hand is no doubt lying spread eagled on the bed...