In brief, I love change. I love colour. Brightness. I love shapes. I dislike sticking to rules and expectations. I've been painting for many years now. I always enjoyed colouring in as a child but lost this in the fog of schooling. I think I was a round peg in a square hole without even noticing for a long time. Thankfully I rediscovered this joy of colouring in my late 20's.
Another passion of mine was languages - the floral, meandering expressive nature - and so I went on to study French, German and Marketing after school, which brought me to Switzerland. I believe my time there shaped me, attuning my eye for design. It was overwhelmingly product-filled compared to the laid back Ireland of the 90's I was used to. Working in the clothing distribution industry allowed me to get tactile with interesting brands. On my return to Ireland I worked for a French Textile Designer but on the business end of things. However, I remember envying the small production team, longing to get my hands dirty.
Painting became a hobby of mine around that time as my then husband noticed how I was constantly doodling on household bills and decided to buy me oil paints etc as a Birthday gift. And so began my journey as a painter. I started teaching myself to paint oil portraits as I was fascinated with the human facial features and fashion magazine photography. Once my two children arrived on the scene my time became limited so I quickly switched to acrylics. I love cows and other farmyard animals, having spent many summer holidays visiting the beautiful Kingdom of County Kerry, my father's home place. The strong personality of the cow always struck me. I was determined to capture all things bovine on canvas. My first was a close up portrait of a cow named Katie. On a deep red background, to allude to theatre curtains, she appears star struck, caught on camera. She is making a statement : I am more than meat!
I kept painting cows, as fast as I could, as they gained popularity and sold well. I was finally starting to feel like 'me', like I was finding my own true style. I knew I wanted to avoid rules of painting, having no formal art education, I was merely an observer and lover of colours and shapes. This is when I began to break down the animal in an attempt to capture the essence of the creature and to give it emotion and personality in an abstract manner. This style took off and my following grew.
The next obsession was to be hens. BWAAAACK!!! Oh the joy of hens and their characters and painting them in different styles and colours. I am crazy about these little feathered creatures. They just make me smile. I love their personalities. Having owned four of them for a period, in my back garden, I got to observe their unique behaviour. Rescue hens who became my pets and providers of fresh eggs daily for my family and my neighbours. I had already fallen in love with them as a child having spent time with a close friend, from aged 4, on her Godfather's farmyard. I remember the absolute wonder of holding tiny, soft, fluffy birds and being amazed at how they changed into these bigger, browner, feathered birds so quickly. And to think that they could lay eggs to make cakes with. Amazing stuff to take in for a young child. The wonder never left me.
The first hen I painted was red, ochre and white, sitting on a bed of straw. I had studied hen photos prior to starting the sketch which is basically a big circle with two beady eyes perched on a beak and some crazy looking headgear, the comb. Again, I was compelled to capture their curiosity and character. Those little eyes peeping out of a mass of feathers. Each hen after that became more and more stylised. Experimenting with the same shapes but with entirely different colour palettes each time, I created a whole army of little chick warriors who roam the earth today.
I grew tired of the individual hen on canvas and started on a whole different style....extremely pared back multi hens on larger canvasses. Hungover hens, shopaholic chicks, broken-hearted hens, blue-eyed Aryan hens and on and on. I'm still not done with them. I want them on tablecloths and aprons and other household accessories. The time will come.
Me and Design
As a stay at home mother back in the day, my home became my cell! So a friend observed once anyhow. I often wanted to redecorate my surroundings. I would trawl through my collection of interiors magazines, gathering ideas and colour schemes, which I would then apply to my painting. I remember one spring, wanting to inject some of what was outside into my living space. Instead of buying flowers, I bought canvas and painted an abstract piece called 'Cherry Blossom'. The pinks and whites of the petals flying on a lime to pale olive green background did exactly the trick....spring had arrived on my living room wall.