Friday, November 21, 2014

Call for Clonmel People

Calling Clonmel, South Tipp, Ireland
I need you to be participants in my Portrait Project: Hometown

I am thrilled to be returning to Clonmel next August (2015) to exhibit paintings at the Arts Center. I am working on a portrait project called "Home Towns" - one part is of people from my adopted town of Woodstock and one is of people from my original home town of Clonmel. For the Clonmel project, I am inviting people from the town to be my subjects for the portraits. The idea is that the project will be a snapshot of  the Clonmel community in 2015, so it is important that that every age-group is represented from the very young to the very old, female and male. 

To participate, you need to be living in or near Clonmel now, and you need to e-mail me two/three photos of you and/or a friend or relative that I will paint from. The paintings will be a little over 30 x 30 cm, so the heads will be close to life-size. To keep it mixed up, I'll use a different hat for each gender and age-group and take turns picking from them, so don't just send photos of the grandkids.

The photos - unfortunately, often great snap shots don't make great sources for paintings, therefore I am going to ask people to take new photos with this project in mind. A fancy camera is not a requirement - a mobile phone camera will be fine, and then you can email me the pics from there.
Best is if the person being photographed is standing next to a light source, for example, a window or a lamp - best of all, is a reading lamp directed at the face from the left or right side (see tips below). I just need head and shoulders only. Feel free to wear whatever you like - if you usually wear a hat, then wear a hat. There are a few additional tips below.

Email the photos to:, and please include the following info about the person in the photo(s): name and approx age + one particular thing that they like, that is 'them' -  perhaps it's soccar, dancing, basket-weaving, or cats, for example: Jack Jones, age 8 - dinosaurs, or Mrs Jill Jones, age 70s - flowers. Also, please put the name(s) in the subject line like this: Clonmel Jack and Jill Jones.

Tips for the photos:
(1) Ideally two or three pictures for each person – one with a serious expression and one in the same pose but smiling.
(2) Head and shoulders only. The whole head is best.
(3) No flash please as it tends to flattens the features; 
(4) If the face is lit from one direction it creates interesting shadows – this can be done with a reading lamp, or if the person being photographed is next to a window with strong sunlight coming in. Following are examples of photos taken with a lamp

These are photos of my young friend, Chloe - the light-source is a lamp. But standing next to a sunny window will have a similar effect. I like the clearly defined shadows and that there are areas of light on the "dark side" of the face. And I can see the whole head, so this ideal.                                                                                                                         

In the photograph on the right, see how there are light areas in the dark side of the face? This makes for a very interesting picture - often it is just a case of turning the head a little more towards the light.

Here are a couple of things to avoid.

This photo on the left is typical of a cell-phone format and part of the head is cropped so I am missing information, so better to move back a bit or get someone else to take the picture.

The photo on the right is almost great, but just a bit too close up. By being a few more inches back from the camera, both of these would be perfect.

Below, just for fun, are some examples of what are useful and not so useful expressions. If you were to send me three photos, the three I've marked are the ones I'd like best. If you can only send one, then send me a version that fits the photo I've made #1.

But don't let fussiness over the "perfect photo" put you off participating - the photos are only source materials for paintings and I can work with what I've got, including deepening shadows, making stuff up, and performing plastic surgery. That's why they call it 'artist's license'. Seriously, I am not going to be painstakingly painting in wrinkles and liver-spots - like, who has the time... Emoji

Who will be painted? To begin with, it will be first come, first served. If a lot of people respond, it will be a kind of lottery. I am aiming to complete 15 - could be more (or less). Again, my personal email to send stuff to is: and sooner is better. Maybe you, or someone you nominate, will be one of the people whose portrait is in the exhibition in August!

What happens to the portraits after the exhibition? The portraits will be for sale for a nominal amount with the subjects getting first refusal. I am thinking in the region of 100 - 150 Euro.  This is not a profit-making exercise and any funds made from sales will help allay costs - that's it.

However, whether or not people eventually buy their portrait is irrelevant to the project and is not at all a factor in qualifying to participate.

To see examples of my work, especially my portraits, please visit Gallery 1 on my Website

For Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the project, click HERE

The Small Print
The images may be used for promotional and publicity purposes, and they will be published on my 
website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, etc), and possibly in a book. By agreeing to 
participate in the Project, it is taken as read that people agree to such usages of the images produced. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Exhibition at the Uptown Gallery, Kingston, New York.


Exhibition at the Uptown Gallery from August 21 - Sept 30, 2014 L & R: Trey Kay

Installation shot

I've been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to update the blog, including even  to blog about the exhibition I had in Kingston that just closed, so posting some installation shots here + images from the opening and also a discussion on the Place of Portraiture in the age of the Selfie with introduction by Carey Harrison - photos were taken by the galllery curator Gloria Waslyn (GW), Charlotte Mandell (CM), and Carey Harrison (CH) or me, Claire.

Also included below are some press pieces from the Kingston Times and the Woodstock Times.

Above is an extract from a review by Paul Smart - see also
at the bottom of this post for more press.
Left is the Exhibition Flyer
Kerry Henderson - Gallery co-owner - welcoming guests (GW)
Penny Webber & poet Robert Kelly (CM)
Claire and fellow-artist Douglas McGuire
whose landscapes were also being shown
in the Gallery

Claire at the Opening (CM)
Above, my daughter Chiara at the opening (CM)
Above - people arriving at the gallery (GW).
Marshall Boris, John & Ann Porter
Carey opening the exhibition (GW)
Installation shots

Lief and Lief - cell phone photo by Carey Harrison

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Finished Zoe - Yay!

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Here is a piece in Roll by Jon Parrish that mentions my piece at the Road Kill show in Athens, NY - yes I know I write for Roll too - spoil sport - but I don't know JP from Adam. Aside from "moi" the article is good on the exhibition in general:
                       So, I finished my painting of Zoe - Yay!
Scroll down to the previous post to see the work in progress. I am very happy with it as it is one of the few pieces I have that was begun from life and finished from a photo. My worry is that most portraits that I've seen that are done from photos suck - sorry! They are lifeless and even more so when the subject is smiling or laughing. In this case, my concern was to keep the sense of immediacy that I caught in that first sitting - approx 2.5 hours - through the process to completion and, I think anyway, that I've been successful. This is very good from the practical POV that people are often not available to sit for up to 14 hours - yes, crazy huh!

Zoe, oil on canvas, August 2014
So now am in a new quandary - I have this painting of Lief Grund that my husband, Carey Harrison, insists is finished - the head is finished - and I ought to just leave it as is (Carey has, at times, been known to run away with my paintings and hide them). But I am not convinced:
    Lief - Oil on canvas - July/August 2014
                                                            Lief - Oil on canvas - detail

Friday, June 27, 2014

Zoe in progress

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This is my latest writing effort for Roll - an article highlighting art shows in the Hudson Valley:

So I've finally gotten back to Zoe's portrait - started it in April 2014 when my daughter Zoe was visiting from London, and am finishing it from photos. I am making headway on it - following is the progress so far. (BTW, I just discovered that if you click on an image you get an enlargement, but then you can further enlarge any section of the picture by moving the curser to what ever area interests you, and click again - this is pretty cool feature for looking at paintings.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Byron and Zoe: Works in Progress

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Just posting a couple of works-in-progress that I am pretty happy with. The painting of Zoe, my daughter in fact, will have to be completed from photos as she lives in London (UK) so not available. The challenge will be to keep the freshness in the image, unlike the painting of Justin (from my previous post). I'll also have to finish Byron from photos but I have the most important info down (the head) so that should be no problem. Hopefully I'll get those arms solidly on his legs as opposed to floating, as they are now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Planes of Justin's Face

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In my portrait painting class, I have been talking to the students a lot about the planes of the face and I borrowed an Asaro head to use as a reference. So I thought it'd be fun to apply the Asaro model to a real portrait as a visual aid. Usually I work from life, or at least partially. This was done entirely from a photograph. Not a great photo it's true. So here is the result:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So, what about the Mixed Media portfolio?

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The Mixed Media Portfolio
The Mixed Media work has been a bit neglected in this blog, so I thought I'd write a post about a couple of the paintings in it. The following is an elaboration on my Artist's Statement as it applies to one or two paintings.

 The Wedding Portrait

The mixed media pieces are about the ephemerality of life; the nebulousness of memory and of dreams. Their starting point is always the figure or, in the case of the paintings I am going to discuss here, a number of figures. To begin with, I gather, or invent, evidence of a life: drawings, photographs, letters, snippets from newspapers, lists from the phone book, maps, etc. The process of making the artwork is a process of losing, reclaiming and, again, losing the evidence and, in so doing, a fleetingness occurs and, perhaps, new meanings too. I try to hold on to details as you would on waking from a dream that is dissolving even as you try to grasp it and hold on to it. Yet even as the meaning of the dream recedes beyond reach, it leaves a residue: the ghost of a feeling; a mood; an atmosphere. The Wedding Portrait above (+ detail below) is an imagined painting of my grandmotherI never knew my grandparents or saw their wedding photographs, so they are mysterious to me. The figures in the background are based on an old family photograph,
a copy of which is also embedded in the painting. This photograph includes an aunt and uncle who both died young and so also are out of my ken. Also included are many more recent photographs and other objects, materials etc, in the fabric of the painting that hint at the posterity that will result from this wedding day. 

The Wedding Portrait - detail

Besides the bride, the only figure who is clearly defined, there are other painted figures: wedding guests, aunts and uncles, perhaps the groom. All of these are shadowytheir features are lost in the mists of time as those on the periphery of our lives tend to be. The flowers were taken from a magazine of flower arrangements for Valentine's Day, but they are faded and have a funeral aspect to them; they are both her wedding bouquet and her memorial bouquet as the painting is a wedding and a memorial portrait.

This same experience of trying to grasp onto receding memories often also applies to those who are no longer alive.
Over time, slippage occurs in that their corporeality, their very aliveness, diminishes in our memories and becomes increasingly difficult to grasp; a consequence of letting go, and perhaps a blessing. But losing hold can also be a source of distress and bring about feelings of betrayal to the lost loved one 

Lost Time

The basis of the painting, above, entitled Lost Time was a photograph of a lot of children on the back of a donkey
these were my siblings and cousins. I once showed this photograph to a friend while describing the story of the photo which was that, immediately after the photo was taken, my uncle poked the donkey which then bucked and we all tumbled off. I described in detail the fear, the grabbing onto the child in front, the falling, the crying, etc. But when she asked which child was I, I saw that I was not on the donkey at all, but on the ground next to it. The photograph completely contradicted my memory of the event - a memory so strong that, despite having looked at the physical photograph many times over the years, I had failed to see the evidence before my eyes that, although a witness, the memory of the experience was not mine, perhaps it was my sister's who was among the kids on the donkey. This painting is actually about this sister. She died in 1999, just missing the millennium. The painting includes many items from her life including her passport, letters, maps, a contact sheet of "selfie" images she made, etc. Proof that she existed.

Lost Time - detail

These are common experiences to all of us, we all dream, have memories real and imaginedsome are other people's stories that we have incorporated into our cache, as I clearly did with the donkey story. Eventually, who can tell what is real, dreamed, or stolen? The memory selects what to keep and what not to keep, and its choices can be quite selective and arbitrary; the memory is a novelist—if it comes across a good story or anecdote, it will appropriate it. These are the ideas I am exploring as I work on these paintings.

Once again thank you, dear Phantom reader, for your time and patience. And remember to

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