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

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







Away with the fairies!

Mosaic Guardian Angels €25 each


Today I didn’t get a lot of studio time, but to honour the challenge I made the little blue angel in the middle. It will be grouted and finished with a coordinating loop and ribbon in the morning. The other two, I made earlier! I realised I sold out of pink and blue guardian angels for baby’s first Christmas Keepsakes, so needed to replenish. They also make special gifts for new arrivals, birthdays, communions, teachers gifts, get well soon etc. They are all one of a kind, each with a personality and attitude of their own! Making these little fairies is a welcome and easy alternative when I need a break from working on the backsplash!

The angels are available in a wide range of colours and styles and come in a coordinating organza gift bag and a handmade card.  Free shipping worldwide until the end of January!




The Big Reveal!

Plums‘Trio of Plums’
Encaustic on Maple

I worked some more on the plums from last week and here is the finished painting. I also picked up some other plums, a different variety much lighter in colour, more green and peach than plum! They will come next.

So after some deliberation I  decided to go ahead and grout the second panel of my mosaic backsplash today! Cleaning off the grout to reveal the mosaic beneath is a just reward for all the hard work, it really is a labour of love! Looking forward to starting the next panel already. Only 2/3 left to go approximately!

Kitchen Mosaic2




The Four Seasons WIP

thefourseasonsI‘The Four Seasons’
Work in Progress

I started this mosaic with the daffodils on St Patrick’s Day 2014 and I was determined to finish this panel today. So I hit the studio at 10 am and positioned the final piece at 8 pm! I had one or two minor hiccups during the day. As I worked on the last section of background I discovered a ‘grout river’ that I simply wasn’t prepared to live with! So out came my hammer and screwdriver and that section was no more! As I look back on some of the andemento on the earlier sections, I realise just how far I have come! After redoing that part, I had another look at the Iris’s. There were a few areas that I knew I could improve on, so again cue the hammer and screwdriver! I have positioned the photos in order of progress today. It felt very good putting the final tessera in place! The dilemma is will I go ahead and grout tomorrow or get the screwdriver out again! I’m too tired to decide tonight, my back is aching and I’m hungry…it was a good day!

Mosaic 045


To view the entire backsplash so far see my last post on The Four Seasons

Mosaic 075




Love Bird

IMG_0375‘Love Bird’
Mosaic Keepsake

This is the special request ‘robin like’ bird I mentioned in a previous post. I grouted it this morning then inscribed the back with a personal message and finished with a gingham bow. It has since flown off to its forever home! I’m sure the little birthday girl in question will treasure this gift from her Grandad in years to come.

I also completed yesterdays still life. Click here to see the finished figs. I worked over some areas with watercolour sticks. The sticks are new to me, I spotted them in an art shop in Dublin last year and of course had to have every colour available (they have been sitting in a drawer until today!). I was having trouble achieving the soft velvety  texture of the darkest fig with paint alone but the sticks came to the rescue and proved to be the perfect solution…one can never have enough art supplies!






Mosaic Backsplash

‘The Four Seasons’ WIP by Olive Stack

Today was a productive day in the studio. Almost finished the background at the very top, then just have a couple of things to tweak before I grout the second panel…the exciting part! The next piece of mosaic will be a narrow strip under the kitchen window sill. We have a small pond in the back garden, home to three goldfish and lots of water lilies, which I hope to incorporate in the next section! Then I’ll continue with Summer at the other side of the window before I turn the corner into Autumn! Still a long way to go, but back to business and painting for the next few days!

‘The Four Seasons’
Mosaic 014
My studio companion…tiring work!




Love Bird

Mosaic 005
‘Love Bird’ Mosaic Sold

This love bird took a brief visit outside today to be photographed! The substrate is plywood so they are made for indoor decorative use. I do like how the birds look hanging on a tree though, especially when the light catches the reflective glass as they move…must make some for the garden. I make a range of mosaic ornaments Angels/Fairies, Birds, Hearts, Christmas Trees and Stockings etc. All are unique and make special gifts for every occasion. I start with cutting a batch of substrates on a scroll saw. I try and vary the shape of each one a little, especially the angels so they all have unique personalities! I then prepare and seal the surface and leave them to dry for several hours or over night. Then they are ready to mosaic. In this piece, I’ve used Vintage China, Stained Glass, Mirror Glass & Millefiori. Again I leave the ornament overnight to allow the adhesive to dry and the following day, sand the edges, grout and finish the back with two coats of paint, before finishing with a loop and ribbon! The next bird I’m making is a special request for a valued customer who has asked for something “robin like” as a birthday gift for his granddaughter.

I  have made some more progress with my mosaic kitchen  backsplash today. I finished the daisy and will return to work on finishing the background in a little while. I usually prefer to work in natural day light, but because I’m working with only one colour on a straight forward section, I don’t mind. Thankfully as we start to say here in Ireland from around mid January “There’s a grand stretch in the evenings…”!! More on the Four Seasons  tomorrow.




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