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Some months ago I was invited by a lovely lady from the South Infirmary- Victoria University Hospital to come look at their children’s unit.

The hope was to create a pleasant space for the children who find themselves there for a period of time, it might be over night or indeed a number of nights.

As many of us know hospital wards are very busy places and space is at a premium.

Fortunately the children’s ward has one very bright and fairly spacious corridor that serves general traffic in and out of the wards.

The main wall here is 25 x 8 ft.

I had full creative license so this became the focus of my attention as being the main space for children to get out of their rooms and shake a leg in a fun and secure space.

The unit accommodates babies right up to teens.

The focus for me was to create and image that was colourful, uplifting and a little bit ridiculous really.

Also it being a working ward I had to be conscious of traffic such as trolleys, wheelchairs, catering and cleaning staff and parents and family making their way in and out to their loved ones.

Infection control is also an issue in a place such as this so 3D additions were not up for consideration.

With all of that in mind I decided on a graphic and colorful visual style and a montage of images within that.

Time was an element too- the longer one spends working in a space such as this the more disruption caused to those using the facility.

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Having put a pencil sketch together and got that approved I proceeded to tackle the problem of getting the image on the wall!

As I mentioned this is a long corridor, but not so wide as to accommodate using a projector effectively ( or a video camera so there no lovely time lapse video of it either )

So much as I dread it, I had to go old school and use a grid!

Yikes, there’s nothing like a grid to bring on the cold sweats.

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First apply your grid to the sketch on paper- (HINT if you’re working from an original drawing- make a photocopy and pop the grid over this always preserve your original). The grid on paper was to a scale 1 inch squared = 2 feet squared on the wall. This way my rough fits on an a4 page which is easy to handle.

Being 25 feel long the question was how to create this grid without help?

The answer is – string.

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Yes get yourself some string/ yarn and good quality masking tape.

Measure out the grid vertically and horizontally either end and some where in the middle ( string will sag in the middle a bit over this distance ) and stick it into place at all 3 points.

It also works out well that once you’ve transferred the images on there are no extra grid lines to paint over as you can simply remove the string and hey presto! Next came transferring the image freehand into place.

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Using light coloured chalks, a different color for each object so as there would be no confusion when painting up close, I drew on the main images and inspite of using a grid I allowed myself to play around with the scale of individual elements where necessary.

Once thats complete it’s the fun part.

mural-stagesPaint time. Working with vinyl matt paints – straight from the tin I got to work.

Patience and a steady hand is an absolute must for this part.

I started by blocking in the flat color areas- of which there were very many. Once dry I applied a second coat and so on and so forth. Having chosen a core palette of colours I applied colour on the fly. I had decided early on at the sketch stage that the best approach would be to apply colors as they felt right on the day. Having not worked with this exact pallette/ range of paints before it was impossible to know precisely how they would dry, so intuition took over.

When the block areas were dry all that remained to do was add some line work over the top to bring a bit of detail without diluting the over all color fresh look.

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It took a solid five days of physical graft and copious amounts of tea to complete, but I am so proud of the end product. The staff in the children’s ward are a highly dedicated bunch and I wanted them to be proud of THEIR unit,  hope I’ve been successful so far.

So thats Phase 1.

Phase 2 will be the playroom with the added challenge of working in an eggshell finish.

Can’t wait to get started. Keep an eye out for the finished article in the next few weeks

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INSERT-COVER-OCTOBER-final-phoneInsert Title.

This being the month of all that is goulish and spooky, naturally the guys behind Insert Title decided they wanted their mugs on the front cover. To that end they provided me with head shots of everyone and a list of classic horror movie characters to apply to this (ahem) beautiful bunch. The result was this.. It was a bit of a tight turn around time but I am delighted with the end piece. Get your copy now!

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This is from an editorial piece on “Jupiter Ascending” starring Tatum Channing and Mila Kunis.

Though this is in fact an action packed sci-fi I suspect from the online trailers that it’s fair funny in an unintentional way!

This piece features in Augusts edition of Insert Title.

Pick one up for an entertaining update on what’s on in Cork and further afield.

 

 

 

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North West Mayo was voted the best place in Ireland to go wild.

Not so long ago we travelled the narrow roads to Rossport to visit family.

The road brought us to Denny’s Ferry Bar, our destination.

A few yards down the remaining road the hedges part and the pier sits neatly to one side.

From there the view is energising!

 

Primroses on the roadside,

Small stacks of turf dress the ditches.

Water laps against the pier.

Homesteads worked into the rolling slopes.

Much sweat and saliva given to growing stone walls.

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Some how I came to regard keeping a sketchbook as a luxury, something for my spare time (which to be fair is in short supply).

As a result I’ve not kept a consistent sketch book for a few years now.

Looking back at the sketch books from before, there were lots of ideas but not a lot of expression of the possible final image.

It’s said there’s nothing more intimidating for any artist than a blank page.

I would agree with that.

The weight of feeling that every line must deliver, every action be deliberate, every idea more intelligent than the last.

A great many of us spend considerable time trying to define the visual language that most suits our technical strengths, gives immediacy to our ideas and indeed that reflects our professional ambitions.

Christmas 2013, the man who knows me best gave me a gift of a beautifully bound sketch book amongst other things.

It is the one thing that has changed me, that a decision to just have fun drawing.

I can’t say my output has been prolific or anything like it but it has taken me back to the start.

There drawing was about fun, where without any deliberation an image appeared.

Here are a few pages from that sketch book, everyday things that mean the world to me.

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Of the Garden

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Of the Sea

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Other Places

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The Monster Doodle has become a regular and enriching experience for kids up and down the country.
Instigated and nurtured by the former Laureate na N’og, Niamh Sharkey, these events give children (and sometimes adults) the chance to meet a real live illustrator in their native habitat (in front of a drawing board) and enter into a shared world of imagination.
I had the supreme pleasure of hosting one such event recently in Bantry Co.Cork.
The West Cork Literary Festival and CBI were so good as to ask me to lead the kids in a session.
Bantry being a seaside town provided all the inspiration needed for some very colorful and fierce artwork. Here are a few pics of the results.
There were mermaid princess’s with pearls, jelly killers and one eyed things, stingrays, hammer heads and deep sea surpirses!
Keep an eye out for future events in your area. Who knows I might SEA you there! D’ya get it!?…

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Having FUN is so very important and with that in mind I am really enjoying this style of drawing at the moment.

This is a magazine cover that didn’t quite make it to print (I had to play around with another idea instead which turned out really well anyway!).

I had an enormous amount of fun realising the image for my own satisfaction.

Any thoughts?

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Remember this photo? Well its’s a sideways distraction from the point of this article! But what a nice distraction it is.
Jersey Boys is a film directed by Clint Eastwood about the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. While researching references for this piece I came across this photo which is one of my favorite Clint photos. I know Clint has a history with music focused films, he’s even sang a tune or two on screen. However for me the contrast between Clint’s image as a hard sort and the shiny, groomed look of the Four Seasons just couldn’t be ignored. The importance of letter spacing was very much to the forefront of my mind with this one too!
Insert Title Issue 5 is out now, pick it up in Cork city centre.
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For those who’s heads are not turned by explosions and the mania of the never ending car chase, this is the series for you. Last I looked you can catch it online. I created this image to accompany a review by Shane Ormond of Insert Title. Cold, slow and awkward it is! But the uneasy parts are what make it. And what a bunch of heads as subjects! Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Allison Tolman.

Issue 4 Insert Title can be viewed online here http://inserttitle.ie/issues/

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It’s been a while since I posted here. Thankfully I’ve been real busy. One of the most recent projects I can reveal now is this!

Insert Title is Corks newest culture magazine. Manned by “a lovable bunch of weirdos”, as they like to call themselves, it’s brimming with articles on the lastest in Film, Music, Television, Food, Style, and Video Games. This months edition is out now and is available in most eateries, music venues or cultural hubs one might care to visit about Cork city.

I’m featured artist, having produced the cover image and a number of images inside. The Shaker Hymn, a new Cork based band on the rise are the subject of the cover art. I was a little nervous but I’ve been told first hand that they love it- phew, thanks Robbie Barron!  Finally if you’d like to get an insight into the brain of an illustrator check out my interview with Briona Gallagher. Her fine way with words makes superior reading to my own posts here. I promise!

For more about Insert Title see http://www.inserttitle.ie