Irish at HeART

As I write a group of 16 intrepid painting and mosaic enthusiasts are making their way across the Atlantic for the creative adventure of a lifetime in Lovely Listowel! The current Artists in Residence Jean Cauthen, Laura Hitchcock and Pam Goode have put together a wonderful schedule for the students, workshops include plein air painting and ‘Flowers of the Wild Atlantic Way’ Mosaic. The seed for the tour was sown during the artist’s first residency at Olive Stack Gallery last year. Cannot wait to welcome everyone to Listowel!


Laura and Jean
Laura and Jean painting plein air on the banks of the River Feale


One thing is for certain, the Olive Stack residency artists LOVE their time in Listowel! Says “second-timer” Jean Cauthen, “Having a month to settle in and work allows artists to get a sense of the ‘rhythms’ of this lovely town. Inspiration comes from the friendships, the theater, the poetry and the lively shop exteriors. As return resident artists, we felt more of a ‘home-coming’ on this return visit. We thrill to visit our favourite shops and delight in the new ones. Walking into our favourite pub and being greeted by a warm embrace along with our pint really tops off the day.”

For Laura McRae Hitchcock, the Olive Stack artist residency has been a career changer. “When I came to Listowel last year, I hadn’t been out of the US since high school. I embraced my empty nest status and decided to take some time to concentrate on my work completely. The residency provided that time and space. It changed how my family sees me, my career as an artist, and most importantly it changed the way I see myself. And when it’s all said and done, that is the game changer.

When I returned this year, I immediately felt at home — as if only a couple of months had passed. I love seeing people I know everywhere I go. I think I know more people here in Listowel than I do in Charleston! Last year, Jean, Pam and I saw so many visitors come into the gallery off of tour buses with no idea where they were or where they had been. We were struck by the difference in their experience of Ireland and the experience we were having in Listowel getting to know both the town and the people. We couldn’t let go of the idea that we wanted others to experience Ireland, and more specifically, Listowel, as we did.

So here we are, one year later, conducting a painting and mosaic workshop for 16 Americans from six states! We’re thrilled to have our vision come together so quickly. We’ll be concentrating our time here in Listowel so that the ladies in the workshop can experience the Ireland we fell in love with.”

Pam Goode, mosaic artist and owner of Mosaic Art Retreats, has taken artist groups to Paris, Provence, Barcelona, Morocco, Italy and Costa Rica. “I can tell you the name of the best tour guide in Barcelona or my favourite lunch spot in Paris, but I can’t introduce you to a single resident in most of those cities. In Listowel, I can match a student’s interests to a local, forging bonds across continents and enriching the experience tremendously. What I’ve found in Listowel is a rare breed of human being that truly embraces personal interaction. To be honest, in many cities it’s something I’ve become a bit wary of. But in Listowel it feels like every chance meeting warms the heart and strengthens the soul. We all need more of that, and it’s a trait I hope to take home with me.”

Plein-Air painter Jean Cauthen explains, “Although I’ve led many workshops to different countries, I’m especially excited to introduce students to Listowel. Our painting and mosaic students will be enchanted by the beautiful Irish scenery with extremes of cliffs to beaches to lush fields. But I think, more importantly, we’ve designed a program that allows students to feel like they’re part of the fabric of this lovely town. Local businesses and individuals are involved in the 10-day visit, and we’re picturing participants as they settle into a local bakery or pub and have chats with the locals. Like ourselves, we know they’ll remember these connections long after the week is over.”


May 17
Pam, Olive, Jean and Laura


The Irish at Heart Artisan Tour and Workshop will spend a couple of days exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and the rest of their time in Listowel. On the agenda is an encaustic demonstration and studio tour with Olive Stack, a cooking class with David Mulvihill, and Pub Theater at John B Keanes. Tours with Damian Stack will also be available, as will evenings at St. John’s. The group will have time to enjoy shopping and eating locally between their mosaic and plein air painting classes, as well as participating in a Get to Know Listowel scavenger hunt that will take them to a range of local businesses. The adventure will culminate with an artists reception at the gallery on Friday 26th May 4 – 5.30pm everyone is welcome to attend!


Welcome bags ready!




Artists in Residence!

Preparing for the arrival of the first artists in residence of 2017 is very exciting! Amy Hart and Caroline Brown will call Listowel home for the month of March and might even have a chance to paint the town green on St Patricks Day! Amy and Caroline are members of Ciel Gallery Charlotte NC. Ciel’s November show ‘Oh the Places we go’ was inspired by artist’s experiences and paintings from their residencies at Olive Stack Gallery. It was wonderful to be there for the occasion and participate in the show! To see the gallery full, from floor to ceiling with paintings of Listowel, Ballybunion and other familiar places and faces was quite the experience! It was an added bonus to spend some time over cocktails and bonfires with Amy and Caroline in advance of their residency!

Ciel Gallery Charlotte N
Amy and Caroline in training for endless tea and biscuits!

This year several of the artists are returning for their second residency, can’t wait to welcome them back to Listowel, this time as friends! We have lots of exciting events planned for this year and next and a wonderful line-up of workshops at the gallery in Lovely Listowel. A rare and amazing opportunity to take a workshop with some of the worlds leading mosaic artists and some pretty wonderful painters also! The residency blog Excira and Delira written by the artists is a great insight into their experience and love of Listowel, Co Kerry and Ireland!

The closing date to apply for a residency in 2018 is fast approaching, applications should be submitted before Feb 28th.

Charleston with Jean Cauthen, Diane Pike, Olive Stack, Laura Hitchcock and Pam Goode


‘In Full Bloom’-Olive’s Garden

‘Happy Dance’ Mosaic by Olive Stack

A long awaited exhibition of new work ‘In Full Bloom’- Olive’s Garden opens at Olive Stack Gallery, Listowel on Friday 19th August 6pm-8pm all are welcome!

The collection of work was inspired by my garden, a never-ending work in progress and repository of seeds, cuttings and plants shared by family, friends and neighbours.  Within these pieces of art is infused the remembrance of these relationships each year as the seeds and cuttings bloom and grow, transforming bare earth into a celebration of life.

This show includes works in encaustic, oil, watercolour  mosaic & collage. Each painting is a reminder of seasonal renewal, the connection of family and friends and the tender emotion brought by bare earth transformed.

‘In Full Bloom’ would not be possible without the presence of each of the artists in residence at the gallery over the past year.

The residency began almost a year ago to the day with the dramatic and unforgettable entry of Emily Andress and Kerry Griffin! Followed by Deb Aldo, Sheary Clough Suiter, Nard Claar, Heather Vollans, Laura McRae Hitchcock, Jean Cauthen, Pamela Goode, Lillie Morris and the current artists in residence Diane Pike and Jen Jovan Walls who arrived in Lovely Listowel on Sunday! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, your support and friendships are priceless! I’m so glad I planted that seed!

The Olive Stack Gallery Residency blog is aptly named  Excira and Delira

‘Primroses’ Encaustic on Panel by Olive Stack

Cliffs of Moher: Road Trip!

Pam paints a great picture of our adventures in Co Clare!


Of course we don’t know each other well yet, and still we plunge almost immediately into deep discussions of lives past and present sprinkled with hopes and dreams. Olive asks me what I’d most like to see while in Ireland, and blinks only almost imperceptibly when I name what must be the second largest tourist attraction in the country after the Blarney Stone, the Cliffs of Moher. In a stroke of luck there’s a bank holiday, those European Mondays off that surely have been created to boost the travel industry, and Olive agrees to accompany us if we’ll agree to a morning lie-in first. I’ll let you look that one up.

At the Irish crack of dawn (11 AM), we pile into the car and head for the ferry to cross the Shannon Estuary from County Kerry to County Clare, fingers tickling the rails and hair in gleeful windswept swirls…

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The Firsts. The Lasts.

Another Artists residency is drawing to a close too soon! Jean’s month is almost up, but on the plus side Laura is staying for another month with Pamela Goode!


13239108_10153649947422503_4252143543781615926_n(written days before I must leave…Lucky Laura is joined by the Intrepid Pam Goode for the month of June!)

It’s a great privilege when you can stay parked in a place long enough to feel it’s rhythms.  And after 30 days in Ireland, I can say,  lovely Listowel has a beat you can dance to.

With time, routines can happen.  Within days of being here, our language shifts from phrases like, “the first time we ever…,” to “we always…”  As in recalling “the first time we met the unofficial ambassador of all things Listowel, Damien Stack…”  To, “I always holler at Damien when I see him outside his shop…I love the joke he tells about the man and the wife….”


From the very first time we saw Olive Stack as we stumbled into town a month ago….to now, fast friends, day tripping around Kerry, joking and planning our next adventure….

From our first distant…

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Hellos and Goodbyes!

The Good Old Days‘The Time Of Our Lives’
Graphite, Watercolour & Encaustic on Cradled Panel – Diptych
by Olive Stack

Earlier this week it was time to say farewell to Sheary Clough Suiter and Nard Claar their month long residency had come to an end, so off they went on a whirlwind tour of Ireland before they return to Colarado in a couple of weeks. Sheary and Nard worked prolifically in their Listowel studio and quite a few painting have found forever homes in Co Kerry! No doubt the ‘Ireland Experience’ will continue to influence their work after they return home! Sheary is currently working on a new series’Water and Stone: Reflections of Ireland’.

So as one residency comes to an end another adventure begins with the arrival of Mosaic Artist Heather Vollans from Canada. Heather will teach two workshops during her month in Listowel. ‘Mosaic Matters – A mixed media mosaic class Sat 16th April & Sun 24th April 10am – 4pm. Please contact the gallery to reserve a space in either class ASAP. Welcome Heather…looking forward to another wonderful month and lots and lots of studio time! Let the magic begin again!

Mosaic Artist Carol Shelkin is yet another of this years wonderful Artists in Residence. Carol shared an incredible experience that proves just how small the world is! This is one of several similar stories! ‘So, there I am at the car wash with a muddy car that couldn’t wait until the next rain to be unblemished. On the back of the car in front of mine is a sticker that read: County Kerry. Being the person I am and sitting next to the owner of the car I said, Oh, I’ll be going to Listowel for a month in November Her speedy response startled me. She asked, “Are you going to Olive Stack’s Gallery?!” She then told me she’s an O’Sullivan and is related to everyone that is an O’Sullivan in Listowel and news travels quickly, even all the way to our little town, just outside of Philadelphia!’

Follow the Artists in Residence blog Excira and Delira to share the artists experience in Lovely Listowel!

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Artists in Residence


‘Switchback’ Encaustic, watercolor, ink, paper, metal on panel. 12 x 12. Nard Claar and Sheary Clough Suiter Collaboration

Today Sheary Clough Suiter and Nard Claar arrived in Listowel from Colorado USA. The first of twelve artists to call Listowel home for a month in 2016. Sheary is also the first artist in residence working exclusively in encaustic…very exciting!

Less than a year ago the concept of an artists residency was just an idea. In March 2015 I put the idea together and shared it with painters and mosaic artists internationally and have been overwhelmed with the response with applications coming from as far afield as Australia! The amazing Emily Andress and Kerry Griffin were the first artists in residence last August followed by the first mosaic artist Deb Aldo in October (equally amazing!).

One of the great things about the residency is that it is mutually beneficial. Many of the artists will teach workshops while in Listowel. One such workshop is ‘Making Your Work Sing’ with Nard Claar, this is the affect the residency is having on my work! Many of the ‘songs’ are still in my head, but they are loud and clear and bursting to come out! Thanks to these wonderful artists who continue to influence what I do. We have an incredible lineup of Workshops at the gallery this year. Something for everyone and for all levels!

I am very grateful for the studio time the residency is allowing and for the wonderful friendships that are forming. I look forward to exhibiting at Ciel Gallery Charlotte NC in November with Emily Andress and other Ciel Gallery partners who will be artists in residence in the coming months. In fact many familiar Listowel faces were featured in Emily’s exhibition’Storytellers’ at Ciel Gallery this month

Please pop in to see Sheary and Nard’s work and welcome the newest residents of ‘Lovely Listowel’ to town! Or follow Excira and Delira the residency blog…from the artists perspective! More information on the Artists Residency Program







Time to confess!!!

Jamies PlumsJamie’s Plums
Oil on Panel

I feel the need to reveal the story behind my recent ‘blue stripe’ series of paintings! The blue and white striped napkin had been sitting in a drawer in my kitchen for some time. It was a souvenir from a special weekend shared with family in London, the highlight of which was an unforgettable dinner at Barbecoa. We also dined at Jamie’s Italian, Covent Garden (highlights for me usually involve good food!). I don’t recall exactly how the napkin ended up in my possession, but I have to confess it did and it has been playing on my mind ever since!

A while ago I was planning a still life painting, I gathered together all the ‘ingredients’and played around with various compositions, but it was missing something.  Then I remembered the blue and white napkin hidden deep in the drawer of shame! Everything fell into place, it worked and has become an intrinsic element in many of my recent paintings.

My first introduction to ‘Jamie’s Italian’ was while visiting friends in St Albans several years ago, I can still recall the Plum and Almond Tart! The blue jug is vintage Irish ‘Celtic Ceramics’ Kilrush, Co Clare. The jug of lightly whipped cream is a perfect accompaniment to Jamie Oliver’s Plum and Almond Tart!

Recently I came across an article stating a staggering 30,000 napkins per month go missing from Jamie’s Italians! Which has only served to exasperate my guilt! All I can do now is apologise publicly. Hope for forgiveness and permission to keep just one napkin…there’s a lot more in this series!





Last Day Blues!

ShoesVUnknown Pair
Mixed Media Encaustic on Cradled Panel
8″ x 8″

This tiny pair was among the collection of little old shoes I purchased on eBay! They’ve been sitting in the box in my studio since 2010 (a parcel from America)! Judging by the size they look like they would fit a 1 year old or there about! It’s fascinating how worn and tattered they are, I imagine they were passed down from every member of a large family…but will never know for sure! In order to prop them up, I had to stuff them with tissues, because of their delicate condition.

This is my final painting, on day 30, of 30 paintings in 30 days and what a challenge it was! It has been so rewarding, spending  most of everyday in the studio. Starting the year as I mean to go on! Thank you for following the journey over the past 30 days. I will continue to post updates here, just not so frequently. Please do stay tuned! My website will be updated in the next few days (now that I have time) with lots of new and available work!






Reeling in the years!

Mixed Media Encaustic on Cradled Panel
8″ x 8″
Today I continued to experiment with new techniques. The drawing from yesterday has become one of the many layers. These shoes are the same pair, from a painting in a previous post. They belonged to my Mother and Uncles as children, I was lucky enough to discover only one of each! The words coming through are lines from one of the songs that our Grandad sang, as he did his daily jobs during his 101 years! It’s an old Irish song about children gathering to sing at ‘The stone outside Dan Murphy’s Door’ in Ennis Co Clare!