Sunday, 30 October 2011

Some new Roughs

 A CHUAN ÁIRITHE - One Particular Harbour
 FEACH ANOIS MÉ - Take a look at me, Blind Rafteirí
 DIGGING, from the poem by Donald Hall
A BOAT SONG, from the Latin, written by Columbanus

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A rough draft of An Ridire

Taken from the poem "AN RIDIRE do Phádraig O'Snodaigh," by Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic from one of my favorite Gaeilge poetry book Barra Taoide. Phádraig O'Snodaigh is an Irish language activist, poet, writer, publisher and former president of the Gaelic League. He is the father of Aengus, a Sinn Féin TD, Rossa, Rónán and Colm of the band Kíla. Together they have inspired a host of my personal artworks.

The Big Bang of Inspiration

Three years ago last month, I had retired, was trying to find myself's future and took my family on a cross country, 7-month long road trip across the United States. While we were in Las Vegas for Nelson Stewart's (of the Rogues) wedding, we discovered we were pregnant for the second time and through the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite and the amazingly surfable California Coast we prepared for the coming of our Katrina Hope. Then, while we were hiking on the Columbia River, Heather began spotting and later that day, our dreams ended - Katrina finding her way out into the world long before she was able to live in it.

Devastated, holding her in our palms, we knew our gypsy roaming had come to an end, though a long journey still remained between the Oregon Coast and our home in Maryland. We began pushing hard to get home, carrying our Katrina with us, stopping as seldom as possible. Then, as we were passing through Butte, Montana, a need for coffee and a different view took control and steered us off the interstate.

We made our way through the town looking for a coffee shop and instead found Cavenaugh's County Celtic Shop and decided to pop in for a look about. There, among the tartans, t-shirts, wedding ensemble and knick-knacks of green, we found a delightful woman who distracted Liam and talked with love of Celtic music for two hours while we strolled through the shop. As we were getting ready to leave, she offered us two CDs to lift our spirits on the way - Kíla's Gambler's Ballet and Tog E Go Bog E. As we got in the car, back to our heavy hearts we put in Gambler's Ballet and as the first strains of "Leath ina Dhiaidh a hOcht" began to roll off of Ronan O'Snodaigh's tongue, we were transfixed. We found something better than the burden we had been carrying.

There are times when joy enters your life, but you can't realize it. Walking past a beautiful bloom, hearing a lovely laugh, feeling a friendly touch - but when it seems all joy is gone, perhaps it just shines too brightly not to be noticed. In that moment, the incredible fluidity of the music wrapped around us and shone like a beacon home. I opened the cover and read the liner notes as we went down the road. How appropriate that the first tune is about wandering about the home after a great jubilation. On the next few days of riding mile after mile Gambler's Ballet played over and over. It had struck a chord within us - we found the joy that comes with birth and life. Our second child would not be nothing but mournfulness. In the years to come I painted pictures of what she would have been  - how she would be in my heart. Much like the lyrics in "Leath ina Dhaidh ..." we woke up from the party, and found substance in the ashes. We so looked forward to her birth, and despite her death we found a way to keep that moment of elation in her moment of existence. For a moment we held her in the palm of our hands. We woke up after the party of expectations before her birth, and found memories of her life to come in the ashes that remained.

Kíla became an integral part of our existence after that ride. Today, our third child, Norá Iascí sleeps to "Soisin" every night and "Gambler's Ballet" is our 'reset button' - a help over a bad encounter, the sound of the beginning of a new journey. Since then we've added the rest of their discography to our collection, including Colm O'Snodaigh's "Givings" which contains my favorite song "Is Tú Mó Ghra." Ronan's "Garden Wars" sits always on my desk as an inspiration to my art and Liam forever wants to hear the soundtrack to "The Secret of Kells."

Per chance, per luck, per divine intervention, Kíla came into our lives and are inexplicably irremovable from it. We share their sounds everywhere we go and rarely do I sit down at my illustration desk without the chance of feeling their melodies surround me. I second Bono's thoughts that "Somehow you get the feeling Kíla lit the fuse for the big bang,” and there in that explosion of energy I find the inspiration to create my own works of joy.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A New Rough Draft and a new (almost) finished illustration

 Curiosity - from a poem in "The Scottish Cat" literature collection; and the draft headed to Vicky Mark, a dear friend and gorgeous woman.
An Lon Dubh - The Blackbirds. Still some polishing to do, but one of the favorites of this series so far.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Maybe I'll get in the habit of this

 Mo leabaidh deán suas Ri fuaim na h-atair eachd áird - In my bed lay me down to the sea's lofty roar This is an illustration for Easkey Britton, a world traveling, awe inspiring Irish surfer and a fellow barer of my daughter's name, though we went with the Gaeilge Iascí. Note the surf boards against the house.
 Winter begins to waken the sea's great roaring wave - inspired by "The Hag of Béara." An ancient Irish poem.
Since I've managed twice in a week to post rough previews of my work, from my illustration desk as it were, I thought it only fair to give a wider view of where I do my work these days, though everything is in traveling trays and the board comes up so I can take it all out to the garden for inspiration.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Rough Preview of Current Works

 Nead an Pighíead - The pigeon's nest, if I remember correctly. I have a little Gaeilge, but very little
 An Colm Ar An Ngeata - The Pigeon on the Gate
 Is tú mo Ghra - Its you I love, from Colm O'Snodaigh's album GIVINGS, and possibly my favorite song ever
 Barra Taoide - High Tide, inspired by the Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic poetry book of the same name
 An Grian Ract
 Ruelaj - Seduction, from a Roma traditional tune
 Graide og an le agugá - Bibouac of the Dead
 An Sheachtad nara Cnuichidh - Snow on the Hill
 An Lion faoi blat - The flax in bloom
 An Geangan glas - the green branch
 An Sean Mhointean - The Old Bog Ground - Inspired by the Iron Age Bog Man of Ireland, found in County Offaly
 The Prayer of Origen

 Rinnce An Leanbh - Dance the Baby

 The Scholar - Scholaire
 Caoineadh - Lament
 Bradan Beo - The Quick Salmon, from a poem by Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic
 Seoithín - Hush
 Mo Muirnin Sa Codhladh - My Darling Asleep
 Gligín Airgead - Silver Bells, from a compilation of stories. Ancient Druidic Bards were given branches ornate with silver bells as a symbol of respect. Then in the 1970s, bells were placed around the necks of Irish school children who were caught using their Gaeilge.
 Deoc Dlenna - Draft of Ale
 Trasna na Tonnta - Over the waves
 An Callín Deas Donn - The pretty brown girl
 An Sean Duine Sugach - The Jolly Old Man
 Ronan Og - young Ronan
 Cumann Na Gaoideaige - The Gaelic Club
 Amuig ar an Fairge - Out on the Sea
 An Taoi Seách Luinge - The Sea Captain
 Caint Na BhFaoileann - Speech to the Seagull, from the same titled poem by Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic
 Baintreabhach an Lasgaire - The Fisherman's Widow
 Athas do lá is bláth ar chrann - Joy for the day and the flower of the tree This phrase came from a small sketchbook I keep where I will write down turns of phrase and lines of poems that interest me, but I unfortunately didn't record what the source of this was, and haven't located it ... yet.
 Lus na Gaioighe - Plant of the Wind (Wood Anemone)
 Blat nah Oige - In the Bloom of Youth
 Fear as Conamara - The man from Connemara
 Celeis - The Sorrow
 Kyrie Eleison - Lord Have Mercy, from an ancient Liturgical song
Gort an Tobair - Spring Garden