Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Künstler Symposium - A Wonderful Whirlwind

I can't believe it's over! The Künstler Symposium in Neustradt, Germany just finished up on Sunday.
It was a wonderful whirlwind long week filled with new friends, wine, late nights, creative work and little sleep, all in that order!

Special thanks to Ralph Gelbert for his extraordinary generosity, expertise, patience, can do attitude and fun. Ralph, we all enjoyed your company immensely!

I arrived in Germany the week before last on July 13th in plenty of time to enjoy a lunchtime meal out, the chance to meet my incredible host family Philipp and Linda Catoir (who own and run the third largest wine company in Germany, Muller Catoir.), followed up by watching the World Cup Final at an old converted wine cellar in a picturesque pristine Palatinate village in Neustradt an der Weinstresse.

After the celebrations we met the following day at the Villa Bohm. A building with a considerable dark history but one that has seen an amazing change over the years and now functions as a centre for the arts. Many many established artists have worked and shown there, most notably a recent show by Armin Mueller-Stahl the German film actor, painter, writer and musician. His work in quite incredible by the way!

On Monday the 14th we were given our appointed spaces, requested materials, and commenced work.
Many of the artists had brought imagery and a plan as to what they would create during there stay.
I on the other hand had prepared little in that sense, but decided to engage directly with the physical space I was allocated and the materials I was presented with and encountered during my stay.
I worked like a horse, and with determination completed six paintings in six days, one of which was the largest still life I have created to date! Perhaps all the wine and lunch time spritzers loosed me up some!

As a group lead by Ralph, we enjoyed lunch time meals out together each day and also made several group trips to some incredible locations. The UNESCO world heritage city of Speyer was for me a real highlight.

I loved the chance to meet all the artists that took part in the symposium and noted that even with all the upset in the world this week a harmony and positive attitude prevailed. Everyone wants peace. The chance to talk with the wonderfully talented artists Niv Tishbi from Israel and  Nasrin Abu Baker from Palestine presented me with a very real world view - That none of this violence and hatred will get us anywhere! We all want peace and to evolve now and its our hope that through our example and work the world might become a better place.

Here are some photos from this incredible international artists symposium of which I took part.
I will cherish these memories forever and can't wait to see and welcome you all again here in Ireland or overseas soon.

- Richard

Special thanks to Juergen Messler for these photographs.
I will follow up with more photos from the week, publications we featured in, and pictures of the Vernissage shortly.

Richard Hearns - Ireland

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Internationales Künstler Symposium

Guys, I have some really great news! 
I've been invited to attend and take part at an International Symposium of Artists.

The symposium is to be hosted by the City of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany, and begins tomorrow from July 13th to the 21st. The international group of painters and sculptors of which I am a part have been invited to create works over a six day period and present pieces for exhibit on July 21st. 

It's a little daunting, but I am so excited and really looking forward to meet my German host family and experience German hospitality, as well as a chance to spend time with an international group of experienced artists and create together in such an incredible environment.

The studios we have been allocated are in the stunning Villa Böhm.

Imagine, I'll be there this time tomorrow and will be able to watch the World Cup Final IN Germany!!
Before you ask,.. I'm staying neutral! 

- Richard

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014


Pompeii - oil on linen - 20"x20"

Just put the finishing touches to this somewhat monochromatic composition the week before last.
I began working on this richly surfaced canvas a year ago, building up the image over long periods of time.

The arrangement is loosely based on a charcoal drawing that my teacher Gregg Kreutz presented in his book which tackled issues around 'lighting subjects effectively'. Working like this I feel offered me, on many occasions in the past a leaping off point, and has given me and my work a great foundation on which to build and develop my vision. This image now brings me full circle and I can begin to present to you over the coming weeks a whole series of recent studio works.

The title came to me as I developed the painting. The dusty greys and warmed shadow areas reminded me of images of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city which was destroyed and buried under 20ft of ash and pumice during the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD.

Attached below are some close up images of the surface quality an paint application which went into creating this piece.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Annular Arrangement

Annular Arrangement - oil on canvas - 24"x20"

This painting has been in the making for several months.
I subtracted and added elements from both memory and reference over time until I was happy with the overall placement and composition. I also played a lot with the light and shade until I had a meaningful ratio of dark and light patterns. A couple of the referenced objects came from a lesson on 'gradated light' in Gregg Kreutz book, Problem solving for oil painters.

Also attached, details of the paintings 'surface quality'.
I think this is what really sets artist's apart. The individual and unique ways in which we handle and apply the paint as we build up a surface that excites us.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reflections on a Vocation

Reflections on a Vocation - oil on lead primed canvas - 12"x9"

James Elkins writes in his book What Painting Is - 'To a nonpainter, oil paint is uninteresting and faintly unpleasant. To a painter, it is the life's blood: a substance so utterly entrancing, infuriating, and ravishingly beautiful that it makes it worthwhile to go back into the studio every morning, year after year, for an entire lifetime'.

Above is an image of the finished versions of a live still life demonstration I created some months ago at the invite of painting school in Dublin.

Detail Below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

SEPIL Commission 010 - Landfall, Glengad.

Landfall, Glengad - oil on canvas

The Corrib field, some 83 kms off the North County Mayo coast made landfall via an offshore pipeline at Glengad in 2009, during that period Glengad beach became an area of considerable opposition and protester activity.

The memories of visiting this site at Glengad are some of the most prominent during my first visits to the Corrib Project. I found myself in a lucky situation in which to capture this image of an engineer looking out to sea from a height, close to where the landfall valve, which controls the pressure of the onshore pipeline is located.

As the engineer gazes out across the beach into the bay, he has a vulnerable look, with his hard hat slightly aslant, a CCTV camera looks back at us, mounted atop an acoustic fence. This image gave me a very strong feeling.  It took me time to identify what it was that I felt the image suggested. The soft gaze of the worker over a place that had seen much turmoil and the uniform and non-judgmental stare of the camera as it records the activity of the workers,surrounding landscape and seasons suggested to my mind the idea of a co-existence of opposites and that time heals all wounds. An area that had seen a great deal of chaos was now at peace!

I believe misunderstanding, bad communication and hurt on both sides lead to seemly chaotic behaviour but understand now over time people on both sides of the divide have begun to come together in a more constructive and meaningful way.  

- Richard

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PJ's Blackboard

Last week I learnt of the passing of a Legend! PJ Carroll, my secondary school art teacher was a legend among students and staff at St. Michael's College for near three decades.
To say he was a patient man doesn't quite cut it! He put up with some amount of tomfoolery, mischief and messing. Beyond all that it's safe to say we all loved him dearly and couldn't wait to get into his classroom for further 'artistic exploration'.

PJ, thank you for the incredibly generous reference you gave me for college. It was the most beautifully written referral I could have ever wished for and it helped greatly to secure my way into a career in the Arts. Thank you.

Rest In Peace PJ xx

Pj's Blackboard - oil on canvas - 20"x16"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Same Same but Different, a Cup of Blessings.

A lesson on colour strategy presented in Gregg Kreutz' book prompted me to create this deeply layered study after one of his paintings. There is a huge amount of work in this piece, having started it back in late 2010 just before I left for New York to study in Gregg's class and open my second solo show there. I later returned to the work to heighten and refine certain areas with the knowledge I gleaned from spending time in Gregg's class with him and his dedicated students.

After this tribute I'll post one more image of a tonal arrangement inspired by a charcoal drawing by Gregg and then it's back to my own recent work. I have several new still life paintings I want to share with you.

Above: Cup of Blessings, after Kreutz - oil on canvas - 24"x18"
A study after a Gregg Kreutz painting with a concept on colour strategy.
Below: Detail from Cup of Blessings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Influences and Forging my Own Path.

With little or no formal education in painting I developed my earliest vision through drawings in college and keeping notebooks on my travels. In later years from about 2008 I sighted the books and works of the New York based painter Gregg Kreutz, whom in 20011 got to spend a couple of months with in studio at the Art Student League of New York. The books and works of Gregg Kreutz and his teacher David Leffel impacted me greatly when I was looking for some direction in oil painting. By studying their work and making copies after their paintings I learnt a huge amount as regards application and developing strong pictorial concepts for my paintings.

You know, putting your work out there into the world attracts different reactions. Encouragement, support, friendships, connections, help, positivity and negativity. Sometimes some and sometimes none, sometimes good and sometimes indifferent. I would say that 99.99% of the time in my life I have been met with just pure encouragement, understanding and support. This support started with my closest friends and families and has now spread throughout the world.

Some months ago just after my solo show at Jorgensen Fine Art in Dublin opened I was quizzed online by a fellow 'artist' in the UK who on seeing a press release, which used one of these such copies or studies made after Gregg's work, but did not reference the original work, which was a journalistic mistake as the paintings were clearly tributed to the artists in the gallery catalogue and on my blog over the past years. The artist claimed that there exists a convention for signing works made after other painters. A convention I had never heard of and one that any institutions I contacted said did not exist! This episode gave me a huge headache and could have been very damaging. It's funny how we humans can hold onto such negativity even if the remarks pale in comparison to the outpouring of support I recieved from my collectors, friends and fellow artists on hearing this debate. But I guess thats just part of the human condition. I would never consciously go to hurt another artist or his reputation - in fact it's part of my make-up to do nothing but encourage others to fulfill their dreams and passions no matter what field they may be exploring. I believe we all need understanding, encouragement and an occasional push out of our comfort zone to achieve our best. I know I've received it in bucket loads and want to do my very best.

During my time in New York this year I met many students copying from paintings in the Museums there. There only restrictions are that the scale of the copied work not be the same as the original. I also met with Gregg and we talked of this episode and putting it all behind us.

Below is a painting I made at the end of last year after a painting and lesson on colour saturation presented in Gregg's book entitled 'Problem Solving for Oil Painters'. I found this book really helpful as I could relate to the concepts and thinking explored throughout it's chapters. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their painting.

Since that episode I have learnt so much, I've put all differences or grievances behind me and most of all turned it to a positive and learnt to trust my own intuition and instincts more deeply. It was a tough lesson but a good one and I am determined now more than ever to forge my own path through my work. Making art takes dogged determination and brash ego at times. It's not easy by any means and you sacrifice a lot to keep doing it. But it's just so rewarding!

The Brass Cooking Pot, a study after a Gregg Kreutz painting lesson on colour saturation
 - oil on panel - 24x18

Detail from The Brass Cooking Pot, a study after a Gregg Kreutz painting.