As a young artist it is very important to ask questions and get advice from people you respect and admire. I tried to do this when I was starting out. At the time, I felt that my early colour paintings seemed to be lacking something. When I usually have an idea I jump into it without asking too many questions. I played around with the basic colours and found that I only needed about 8 different colour paints in order to achieve the full spectrum. However I was still using the colour black. It was not until I met the Irish caricature artist Niall O’Loughlin (www.caricatures.ie) that I realised I was using the wrong colours in my paintings.
Niall has been a major help and was a great mentor and a teacher over the years. Black is not actually a colour but a shade. I was using black to darken my colours when I should have been using a combination of dark green, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and crimson. With my paintings in the ‘In Black series’, there is actually no black paint used in the entire painting. It is a combination of strong dark colours and gives a much better effect. The colour black has an effect of making the subject’s skin look lifeless and makes takes away from the realism of any painting. As soon as I removed the colour black from my paintings they instantly improved. Becoming more vibrant and more realistic. The skin tones I feel were affected the most. I have to thank Niall O’Loughlin for sharing his wisdom with me on that one.
When starting off in the art world it is very difficult to get a break, with a lot of galleries reluctant to take on new artists. Niall helped me get my work out to the public. There is no point in creating all this work if nobody is ever going to see it. He gave me great advice about promoting my work and helped me get my work exhibited in my first major art gallery in Dublin.