The life of an artist can be quite a solitary one. Artists generally work alone, cut off from the rest of the world, in their own little bubble. I often find myself experiencing this and it can be quite counterproductive. It is necessary to be on my own for long periods of time in order get my thoughts and ideas straight, but it is also very beneficial to get out into the real world and experience things, and be inspired.
I personally have never become too involved in the art scene in Dublin, and anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t consider myself to be a ‘typical’ artist. I do attend the odd art exhibition but definitely prefer to stay in the background and appreciate the art. I am inspired by all types of art, be it abstract, landscape, figurative, old or new. However I am also inspired to create paintings when listening to music at home or at a concert, when watching an old movie at home or a new movie in the cinema. Taking in all the images and sound may spark something in me or may not.
I am constantly getting ideas to paint from my daily life. I am very inspired by photographs also. I have a keen interest in photography and as I specialise in portraits I often use photographs as preparation and inspiration for paintings. This is common practice among many artists, past and present. For example, the inspiration for the recurring motif of the screaming mouths in many Francis Bacon’s paintings of the late 1940s and early 1950s were drawn from a number of sources, one being photographic stills of the nurse in the Odessa Steps scene in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent The Battleship Potemkin. He referred to the image throughout his career, using it as a source of inspiration.
Because I am Irish and I live in Dublin, this has had a big influence on the subjects that I paint. I have painted most of the prominent Irish personalities and will always continue to do so. It is a big help when you know someone’s background. It helps to keep me interested in the subject and motivates me to want to finish the painting. That is why it is always great to meet your subject before you begin the painting. This is not always possible of course, whether they be out of reach or not with us anymore, but being from Ireland and growing up listening to the like of Luke Kelly, Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan, Thin Lizzy, and U2, really makes the process of painting it a whole lot easier and more interesting. These days I feel more and more inspired by other people’s art, especially on social media, particularly from being exposed to amazing international artists on instagram. Don’t be surprised if you see a change in subject and style from me sometime this year.