before I begin

Life is too short to live behind lies

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Today was one of those golden autumn days that remind  me of old van morrison tracks. Despite having to go to work, I was able to walk my dogs twice in the autumn sunshine. Is one of my favourite times of the year. That period when summer is ending but there is still a beautiful low light cutting shadows along the ground.

There is slight sadness in the trees as they hush with the wind. I like walking at this time of the year. It seems to inspire ideas about colour and movement. Things are changing and there is a feeling that one must be doing something before the darkness arrives.

The strong shadows on the ground are like some kind of dramatic movie projection on a green screen. There are many images to trigger ideas for new paintings. I am thinking of making some really small drawings reponding very instictively and quickly to my surroundings possibly made within a few seconds and then translating them into large paintings after they 'simmer' for a while.

At times like these I feel  very fortunate to sense the world as I do. This must surely be what making art is ultimately about.....making the golden....simply

Monday, 30 August 2010

your arsenal

tonight I am going to a meeting of the first belfast Arsenal supporters club...yes indeed. I am sure there are many different reactions to this statement but why I mention it is that for me, this club represents so much that our society should aspire to. I can almost now hear some of your reactions to this statement.

Its quite simple ( which is exactly as it should be). The Arsenal suppporters club is composed of members from all walks of life, male, female,  black and white. We meet regularly but we don't always know the background of the person we socialise with. Nevertheless we will often find ourselves in the ecstatic embrace of a stranger when the ball hits the back of the net! No one is judged, no one is criticised and no one is laughed at.

Everyone at the club has different reasons for their love of the Arsenal. For some it is the revival of childhood wonder and excitment. For some it is the fun of being part of something passionate.
For all it is the laying aside of our 'other life' for ninety minutes.

I listen to so much snobbish nonsense spoken by people who view soccer supporters as some kind of non thinking thug. The truth is that these snobs need to find targets to belittle in order to make them feel more secure in their own ( often artificial) existences. I use the term 'existence' because sadly there are many who don't experience a 'life'.  As we in the club leap into each others arms as the winner goes in on the 93rd minute, we are alive and we are happy. We are all the things that so called intellectuals try to explain and experience all their lives.

So now its time to go.  My red and white shirt awaits!

Think know it makes sense

Why I like dogs

Picasso said   '.... it took me a lifetime to paint like a child'. The more I paint, the more I appreciate this statement. I also appreciate the value of time and the nonsense of wasting it. There is of course a dilema.
Can we deny the knowledge and technical skill we have developed in order to 'paint like a child'? Do we attempt to 'un learn' everything?
 The ulimate aim is to paint with total honesty.  That is to make every mark as truthful and pure as possible. For me, that is what children do. They apply the skill they have with honesty. The reason for this is that children to not project ahead to whether the work will be seen by others or whether it will be liked by others. Likewise dogs live for the moment.. They focus on the present experience.

Sadly it is tempting  for 'adult' artists to be driven by the 'outcome' the 'project' the 'review' and consequently they work as if they are aready in the future instead of the present...the result is that they have already lost a valuable slice of their time........... This is why I like dogs.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Before I begin my first blog I need to say that I believe we are all capable of double standards, hypocricy , jealousy and general nonsense. I know I will probably include these traits in my own thoughts. For this I apologise in advance but hope all who read these thoughts appreciate that my intention is to say what I feel as truthfully as I can ( given that i am only human!)

today i saw a car sticker which read 'the more people i meet..the more i love my dog'! I just can relate to this so much. As time goes by I am increasingly disillusioned by people. Don't get me wrong...i like people..or should i say I TRY to like everyone. I just get disappointed at how we all seem to succum to the entanglements which we think are 'cool' or sophisticated.  This disappointment may be the reason why I have not had a human person in any of my paintings for some time! I have however featured several dogs and birds!

Amongst those of us who call ourselves 'artists' there are many who love the name 'artist' but who are in fact something else. I am now 52 ..not planning to shuffle off this mortal coil quite yet but I have been around long enough to have seen and done a few things in 'the art world'. What I have learned is that time is precious and making my art has to be about ME. it is the one thing which allows me to talk to the world.

AS artists we want to show our work to everyone..everywhere! If truth be told many of us would really like to be 'famous' and therefore have a bigger audience. However the only thing you will leave behind will be your work and if that work is not trully YOUR self expression then its like leaving behind some battered old car. I am really frustrated at the moment at the number of 'artists' who comprimise themselves and their work in order to raise their profile. Those individuals and 'artists co operatives' who make things to fit the popular politically correct projects which attract funding.

I know how difficult it is to exist as an artist. To find space to work and money to buy materials. I understand why people form collectives. The truth is that arts funding bodies will support collectives on the basis that they provide a facility and encourage art in a certain  community . Thats the theory but often in reality there are strings attached to this support. The 'artists' concerned need to agree to provide workshops, events etc for the community and as a result much of their time and energy is directed to this rather than being true to their own  art. I have been a member of a collective and felt the frustration of this. ..Its why i now work alone.

There is no point getting financial and other support if  you feel enslaved. Above all dont believe you are a great artist just because you exhibit often and are given lots of commisions! What you become is a community worker. A very valuable and worthy role of course but if thats what you become..dont call yourself an 'artist'. The truth is that graduating from art school, making things and having ideas (even good  ideas) does not make you an artist  .....

.....................  just a thought !!!


welcome to my  thoughts. Be prepared for a journey of twists and turns. Hopefully following a map of truth!