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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Saturday, September 24, 2011
  painting in ireland

I am in the last stretch of my time here at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in the beautiful countryside of County Monaghan, Ireland. This Friday, I'll head to Dublin for my opening at Gormleys Fine Art, and then return to the Centre for just a few days to wrap things up. I'll leave Monday to tour around for a week or so with my husband.

At this point, I find myself taking stock of what I've done here and what I still hope to do before leaving. The time has gone very fast so far, and I console myself with a plan to come back again before too long.

This morning an Irish-born writer in residence here came into the studio, and her first words were, "oh, you've really captured Ireland in this work!!" Which was the most gratifying thing she could possibly have said--because I've been painting from my heart, full of the experience here. She asked if I had been to Ireland in the past, or had family roots, but neither is true. I just have strong impressions from the past couple of weeks of a complex, ancient and many-layered place of poetry, pain and deep beauty.

(The painting above, as yet untitled, is one I have done here during my residency. It is 48"x48", oil and wax on panel....below is another oil and wax painting, 48"x36" also awaiting a title.)

Monday, September 19, 2011
  more from ireland

I've been here at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre a week, and I'm settled in, as they say. As I write this I'm in the cheerful sitting room of my cottage, looking out at the drizzle (which comes and goes throughout each day, interspersed with periods of sun as well as more serious rain) and across at the renovated stone cattle barn that serves as studio spaces,only steps away from my door. Everything here is beautifully kept up, comfortable and well suited to a rhythm of work and relaxation. I've met some of the other residents, and have spent time each day walking and having dinner with my friend Janice Mason Steeves, who is staying in another of the self-catering cottages (they are more like apartments, really--pictured above.)

My studio is spacious, well lit, and is starting to fill up with paintings--my work has been going really well. Below is a photo of several large paintings that are in process or nearly done and some smaller ones underway. I have been inspired by the ancient stone monuments of Newgrange and Loughcrew, as well as by some medieval texts I saw at the National Museum in Dublin.

I'm so grateful to be here for three weeks, and I've been able to spend at least part of every day painting since arriving at the Centre--for me the ideal way to process all the stimulation of a new country and the culture and history I've been exposed to. And here at the Guthrie Center the creative atmosphere is very strong--everyone I've met is intent upon their work, whether painting, writing, or composing music.

I did take one day off last week to visit Newgrange with Janice and another painter here. This is believed to be the oldest surviving building in the world, built 5000 years ago, part of a complex of other structures located in the bend of the Boyne River. It was astonishing to be able to go inside this ancient structure, view the carvings and marvel at the construction, which involved huge stones weighing up to 10 tons fitted together without mortar to form the domed interior. Although the inside tour is carefully regulated (and no photos allowed) and is a bit crowded, it was nevertheless a moving experience. We had more time viewing the exterior, which has been reconstructed from materials found at the site, though it is not known how accurately done. It's beautiful though, and there are a number of carved stones around the base of the huge mound. (The entrance, below, with carved stone.)

This is only a brief, condensed version of my time here so far...my friend Jan is blogging also about our shared stay, so if you are interested in another view, check out her site. Internet is very sketchy here at Tyrone Guthrie, so I am hurrying to post this while the connection is good!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
  thoughts from Ireland

I find it easy to let my eyes glaze over in familiar surroundings, to allow my observation muscles to slacken, to stop noticing and marveling and wondering. Travel anywhere, but especially in another country-- where even the smallest details (sidewalk pavement, breakfast cereals, electrical plugs) are different-- sharpens my senses. Not to mention the more striking differences of language, culture, landscape and history that constantly stimulate awareness and comment.

Here in Ireland I am delighting in the weather, which can change dramatically in ten minutes, the landscape--at the same time both tidy and wild, with ancient undertones, the Irish accent (which shifts noticeably from area to area) and expressions. (Yesterday an artist here said "...and then I just lost the plot" about a situation that was making no sense to her--I loved that!) It is the prehistoric sites such as Loughcrew, though, that have most intrigued me and are providing inspiration as I begin work in the studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, where I will be in residency until October 3rd.

Below are a few photos of the cairns at Loughcrew, taken a the day before coming to Tyrone Guthrie. Another major prehistoric site, Newgrange, is not far from Tyrone Guthrie-- Janice Mason Steeves (an artist friend who is also here in residence) and I hope to find a way to visit there soon.

As always, my work here is inspired by a mix of visual responses, the painting process itself, memories and other wandering thoughts. The extent to which the surroundings of the Irish countryside and the prehistoric monuments will contribute to the work is yet to be seen, but I feel it inside--it will no doubt come through. Painting went very well on my first full studio day (yesterday) and I'm about to head off to the studio (conveniently located just a few steps from where I'm staying) for day #2. Tonight will be a dinner with the other artists, writers and musicians in residence. The Tyrone Guthrie Centre is a beautiful place and full of promise.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
  notes from Dublin

I've been really enjoying the past few days in Dublin...while Thursday, my first day here, I was mainly a wandering and somewhat dazed tourist, yesterday and today I shifted into artist-having-an-exhibit mode with the arrival of my agent Alan Evans and his wife. Alan introduced me to Oliver Gormley, owner of Gormleys Fine Art where I will be showing (pictured above...it is much larger inside than appears from the street) and I was able to look around the gallery and hear a few details and arrangements concerning the show. Later Alan and I visited a number of other galleries including the Hugh Lane (which featured the work and actual (extremely messy and chaotic) studio of Francis Bacon) and Hillsboro Gallery, an excellent contemporary space where I discovered the work of John Noel Smith. Today we went to the Royal Hibernian Academy, where I was very drawn to the strong abstract paintings of Charles Tyrrell. We were in and out of a number of other galleries too, and I came away impressed with the thriving community of abstract Irish painters.

Dublin has, of course, much more to offer besides galleries, and I have had several great meals, a pint (or two) of Guinness in the local pub last night, and some good walks around the city--from crowded, chaotic Grafton Street to the quieter side streets and parks. I took some photos this morning, struck by the patterns of sidewalks, colorful doors and intricate tiling. It is these small details that always seem to strike me when I am in a foreign city. (Below, two views of the sidewalk.) More to come: I have another day here before leaving for Tyrone Guthrie Center on Monday, and tomorrow I am hoping to see some prehistoric sites outside the city...

Monday, September 05, 2011

On the eve before my flight to Dublin, I'm reflecting on the many decisions and actions, large and small that have made this trip possible, and on a larger scale the focus it takes to make any big idea happen. Some things come at you seemingly out of nowhere, others take prolonged effort and planning...my Irish trip has had some of each. It all started with an email contact about workshops almost two years ago from the man who would later become my agent in Ireland and the UK, Alan Evans. I was pleased of course to hear from someone "across the seas" as he put it, but had not a clue that this would eventually evolve into representation and my first exhibit in another country (Still Spaces, opening at the end of this month in Dublin with my work and that of two Irish artists.)

It was at Alan's suggestion that I applied for a residency this fall at the Tyrone Guthrie Center--though I had heard about it during my previous residencies in Spain, and had for years thought of going there "maybe some day." It seemed the perfect opportunity to get to know the country and culture a but--though when I applied, I had no idea about the exhibit. As it turns out, the opening comes at the very end of the residency, allowing for the possibility of work done there to be included in the show. The bulk of the work though, I painted this spring and summer, and it has already been shipped.

So, I will be at Tyrone Guthrie painting from September 12 through October 3rd. An unexpected development that came up this spring: my friend Janice Mason Steeves turned out to have the same ambition of a residency in Ireland, and we ended up with the same dates at Tyrone Guthrie. We both chose the self-catering cottage option (one can also stay at the grand main house on the Guthrie estate) and we're looking forward to studio visits, sharing dinners and perhaps a pint of Guinness after the work day. There will be other artists around too--as always, one of the best parts of a residency is getting to know creative folks from various parts of the world.

But first, two days of travel (somehow I ended up with an 11 hour layover at Heathrow in London) and four days of exploring Dublin and surroundings. I'll be blogging when I can, so stay tuned.

The painting above is Mineral Point, finished during my last workshop and now in the collection of James Edward Scherbarth. One of his wonderful necklaces is in MY collection and I'm wearing it at the opening!


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       Rebecca Crowell