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!

 

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Welcome bags ready!

 

 

‘In Full Bloom’-Olive’s Garden

Fuschia
‘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
‘Primroses’ Encaustic on Panel by Olive Stack

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

‘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

 

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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!

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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!

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Reeling in the years!

ShoesIIMemories
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!

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Back to basics again!

ShoesStaying with the same theme, another study for the next mixed media piece. I had forgotten how much I love to just sit and draw. Maybe when I sign up for 30 in 30 again I’ll do a drawing a day for 30 days…think I could manage that! It’s hard to believe that the month is coming to an end, when there’s still so much more to do! So glad, I made the commitment to paint everyday. For the rest of the year, I look forward to carrying on the habits that have become so natural over the last few weeks. 2016 is my year in the studio!

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Playing with hot wax!

Shoes‘A little Girls Shoes’
Graphite and Encaustic on Cradled Panel

I know this looks very similar to the image I posted yesterday! In fact it’s the same graphite drawing with a few more touches…and a whole lot more! Today I decided to experiment by encasing the drawing in encaustic medium on a cradled panel…all very exciting! It’s hard to see from the picture, but the subtle texture of the brush marks on and around the shoes adds a softness and tactile quality and the build up of layers seem to give even more age! I’m not sure if this is finished…I might come back to it in a few days. I can’t wait to continue with this technique and explore further ideas and possibilities…starting in the morning!

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Back to Basics!

Shoes

This is the first of the drawings for the Encaustic Mixed Media series. It’s a follow on from a couple of other ‘shoe’ paintings. The first came about when I was visiting a friend and noticed a little pair of old and well worn boys shoes on his mantelpiece! He explained that he had worn them as a child, as did all of his brothers. He had recently uncovered them in the family home. I asked if I could borrow the heirlooms and this is the painting that followed.

Johnnys Shoes
Johnny’s Hand me Downs

A year or so later I came across a pair of my own family heirlooms! I only found only one of each, a girls and a boys shoe, worn by my Mom and her brothers (and possibly cousins also)! I painted them on a wonky chair, another heirloom and they now sit on my mantelpiece!

Sister & Brother
Sister and Brother

I’m sure that the little black shoes from today’s drawing have an interesting story to tell, but unfortunately I know nothing about them or the girl who wore them. I bought them as a job lot on eBay! They came in a box with eight other little pairs of old and very old children’s shoes. Some are very well worn, but one pair is unused and still in the original box marked ‘Crib Shoes’. The logo on the box reads “A gift for an ideal baby”!!

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