This Summer In New York.

What can I say about my eight year collaboration with Jeffery F. Barken?

I first met Jeff in 2007. He was a student hitchhiking around Ireland. My Aunt picked him up and brought him home. We sat and talked about our hobbies, studies and plans for the future. I could tell even then that Jeffrey was more serious about his writing than most kids his age.

We stayed in touch and, a few years later, he contacted me regarding his new idea for a magazine called, a global project that would facilitate collaboration between different artistic disciplines. I’d never heard of anything like it before.

I suppose the work we have since embarked on together can be viewed as a trilogy.

The first completed collaborative project on was Mackerel. Jeff wrote a story inspired by his time in Galway and I painted two corresponding oil on canvas pictures. The result was a three dimensional, interactive experience. Jeff wrote the story in short installments and I sketched the action and experimented. The final paintings were organic in their conception and by the time we finished the project we better understood each other’s work and creative process.

Sketch- Mackerel
Painting under construction – Mackerel
Shoal- Finished painting for Mackerel. 

Around that time Jeff started sending me more of his writing, including a novel titled Idle in September. The story chronicled the lives of several young musicians. They form a bluegrass band and tour the US in the aftermath of 9/11. These were the characters that would stay with me for the next few years. Jeff never published Idle, but he continued to develop his characters and prose in a series of short stories that he published in May 2013, entitled This Year in Jerusalem. I was delighted to contribute a series of India ink and acrylic illustrations to the book that he designed.

Cover for This Year in Jerusalem

Our work on This Year in Jerusalem was more organized than the Mackerel project and I was fascinated by the notion of bringing these characters to life. By using the same characters, sometimes likeable, sometimes severely flawed, somehow always sympathetic, in many different, yet interconnected stories, Jeff created his own little universe. The trials, joys and troubles these actors experience never actually end, they go on to live in Jeff’s other works. Their collective journeys through the heartland of the USA, the Middle East, and finally New York City comprise a creative saga.

An illustration from This year in Jerusalem.

So that brings us, along with Ari Shultz, Miles Fletcher, Ethan Mav and other prominent characters to the sinister world of All the Lonely Boys in New York.

All the Lonely Boys In New York – Cover

For which I was honored to design the cover and illustrations. The cover was by far the most challenging of the three projects. How does one sum up a story Like All The Lonely Boys In New York in one image?

Illustration from All the Lonely Boys In New York

 The book is at once personal, intimate and immense. A scathing social commentary on the 21st century, distilling many complex ideas into a deceptively simple story. Eventually we settled on a scene from the last page. The importance of which will resonate with anyone who has read the book.

Illustration from All the Lonely Boys In New York

For the book launch and subsequent exhibition in New York on June 25th, Jeff and I will be collaborating with a wonderful collage artist named Dara Lorenzo, who has incorporated my illustrations into her collages.

So we go back to the roots of the project: Jeff has prompted me to engage and interpret his work, Dara, in turn, has indulged my art. This exciting concept for encouraging artistic collaboration on a global scale is the magic behind

What a journey it’s been! I’m glad to have been there from the beginning and see this talent take shape.

Posted by Di at 5:05 AM No comments: Links to this post

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Unveiling My Portraits.

Today is YomHaShoa. It’s been three years since I started this project. But I was finally able, last week, to publicly display my portraits of Irish Holocaust survivors at the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin at the old Synagogue. It was a wonderful event and I’m so glad I could be part of it. The four paintings had to come home with me for safe keeping but will be available for exhibitions for the rest of the year.

There is a temporary exhibition at the Museum, of sketches and prints,  for the next four Sundays.

Taking with Jan Kaminski, one of the survivors I painted.
Photo credit: Fionán O’Connell
The temporary display at the Museum.
Photo credit: Fionán O’Connell
Holocaust Survivor Tomi Reichenthal with his Portrait.
Photo credit: Fionán O’Connell
The Four Oil Portraits.
Photo credit: Fionán O’Connell

This is a tribute to some of those who survived and built their lives in Ireland. Four members of the community immortalised in portraiture, whose lives have served as an example that the human spirit can stand against brutality. Their portraits tell the story.

A portrait makes people take notice. We automatically ask ourselves who the person was and why an artist chose to paint them. My goal in painting these four individuals was to provoke exactly these questions. If one person sees these paintings and wonders, asks or reads then I will feel I have done something worthwhile.

There may be a time in the future, when the war is no longer in living memory, when we no longer identify with our history. But a portrait can last for centuries and a story can live forever.

Zoltan Zinn-Collis as a child. Pastel sketch. 
Edit Zinn-Collis as a child. Pastel sketch.

We will not forget you.

The statistics lie like bones
They blow on the wind
like a flock of birds they reshape themselves
into something we can understand
a seven digit number.

We will not forget you.

We are not ink on paper

we are not to be quantified in ledgers
and be it in their millions

or one alone

every soul
 should be remembered.

We will not forget you.

One in the line at the corner of his eye

Two in the curve of her mouth when she smiled
Three in the hands that lifted a child

Four in the movement of shoulders at work
Five in the eyes that saw

Six in the mouth that spoke.

We will not forget you.

Diana Muller 2015.

Posted by Di at 8:46 AM No comments: Links to this post

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Landscape Series.

This summer in-between various other projects (including the summer gallery in Kenmare.) I’ve been working on a series of landscapes in oil.

Derryquinn Cove

I’ve often thought that if one were to paint this part of the world people wouldn’t believe it was real. It’s the kind of landscape the impressionists would have killed for. More wild than pastoral, with ruins and famine-era stone walls scattered through it. Sometime in the early spring I was walking up a local hill, looked out over an almost obscenely beautiful visa and thought.. “ What am I doing not painting this right now?”

Heron at Dawn.

So these are scenes from areas within walking distance of the studio ( the fine weather also meant I could get outside to sketch which was great.)

Walking, Late july.

There is no way to capture the real beauty of this part of the country though. You’ll just have to come and see it for yourself.

Posted by Di at 4:22 PM No comments: Links to this post

Labels: Art, Cp. Kerry, ireland, Landscape, Oli Paintings, Parknasilla, sneem.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Everyday Tales.

After a fairly long break from the medium I have turned my hand to ink again and expanded my range of Everyday Tales Prints. They’re not up on the website yet so the first look is here. ( Below. )

When people see them they are sometimes surprised that they are mine.  My usual style is expansive, complex and colourful, and couldn’t be further stylistically from the stark minimalism of these small pictures.

I have never believed that artists should constrain themselves to one style, medium or subject. It makes it easier for an agent or gallery to market your work if you do, but I suppose art and economics never have gotten along very well.

What I have found is that the only way I can avoid boredom and stagnation is to challenge myself, and what is artistic style really but the artist deliberately putting constraints on themselves, a set of specific obstacles in their own way?

When I first started on the little pictures It was during a stressful and depressing period just after I had a flare up of a chronic eye condition. I was lucky, my vision was permanently affected, but not as badly as it could have been.

However it did make me worry for the future ( the disease is usually degenerative) and question a lot of my feelings about art as a visual medium, and my own motivation for creating art. After a period of not painting at all, I one day found myself doodling this:

There’s something about the image that is familiar. But I’m sure I never saw it anywhere. Something poignant and iconic but at the same time almost cliché.

Big Bad.

The theme is obvious: Childhood. Snippets of memory, that almost hallucinogenic imagination mixed up with ordinary activities, illustration from story books, those moments that meant nothing at the time but stand out retrospectively.

They are red, black and white always. These are the most primal and basic of colours, highly symbolic and applicable to a myriad of things, mythological, psychological and historical. They can’t be anything but a kick in the stomach for most of us.

It is interesting how varied the interpretation is. Some people are charmed by them and buy them for their children. Others find them utterly sinister and scold me for having made them.

I have no desire to stop painting in oils and make them my life’s work, but they act as a palate cleanser of sorts. I’m able to see clearer after having worked on them. When every line counts and every colour has meaning it gives one perspective.

Red Ball

Posted by Di at 9:54 AM 3 comments: Links to this post

Labels: Art, Brushwood studios, buy prints, colors, colours, diana muller, everyday tales, fine art, folk art, illustration, ireland, irish art, pen and ink, style

Monday, March 10, 2014

The end of Hibernation

It’s been a long winter and on the first sunny day of spring I have emerged from the studio, blinking like a mole in the sunlight.

Whats that yellow thing in the sky?

The winter months are my most productive painting time, art projects ( more on them in future posts) are well underway and my hibernation is almost over.

But for now I observe that it has  been a very literary start to 2014.

Illustration from  This Year in Jerusalem.

This Year in Jerusalem Has sold out its first edition, with positive reviews in JNS, Hebrew magazine Saloona,   The Times of Israel, and a mention in  the Cornell Chronicle

I’m delighted to have been part of its creation. And will soon be working on a cover for Jeff’s second book.

Closer to home, when not painting the winter away I’ve been writing.  I’ve had two poems published in the latest edition  of THE SHOp  a magazine for poetry.

Jo-Annes book  Battle For Cedar Creek, now had a website, interesting content coming soon.

And last but not least my Father has written a thought provoking piece for Live Learn Evolve.

Happy Spring everyone!  Lets hope this continues for a while.

Posted by Di at 11:32 AM No comments: Links to this post

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Summer Shenanigans.

So another Summer has passed by like a tornado. Leaving the wreckage of me in it’s wake…

From Baltimore to Israel via Kenmare!

This particular tornado was a fun one. It began in June When Jeff Barken came to visit and we launched our book with a reading/signing at the Bookstop Cafe in Kenmare. The book is now avaliable at Amazon and prints of selected illustrations are up at my print shop.  You can read about our collaboration at monologging.

Ourselves at the book signing.

To Dublin!

Then, much to my surprise and delight, Lucy Gaster the producer of a Sky Arts TV show contacted me and asked if I wanted to sell my work at a big art fair at the RDS. So off I went with my Aunt Jo to Dublin.

Myself at the RDS

The show, to be broadcast in November. Is the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year reality show. I wasn’t competing on the show myself but had an excellent view of the proceedings from my table and  got to meet  Frank Skinner, who is a gentleman and Pauline McLynn who is absolutely lovely (and game enough to pose for total strangers in the almost nude.)

Across from me was an increasingly exhausted and very patient Lethal Bizzle. Who sat unnervingly still for a whole day.  Watch the show and you might see me in the background cowering in fear  as the cameras roll by.

I also had the chance to catch up with filmmaker/author Tomi Reichenthal. Whose portrait I’m painting as part of this project. (The painting is nearly finished Tomi!)   He had just come back from the Galway film festival where his latest documentaryClose to Evil, got a standing ovation.

To Killarney AND Dublin… Again!

After that was The Gathering: An Exhiition of Kerry Artists. The brainchild of Jimmy Deenihan. Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs. The Exhibition opened in Killarney, then moved to Dublin, and will hopefully go international from there.  Here is the beautifully produced catalogue. 

The exhibition is currently on display at The Copper House Gallery  in Dublin. Limited edition prints of the work are available through them.

I painted Vapor Trails for the exhibition. This is what I had to say about the painting:

I think that anyone who grew up in rural Ireland, particularly the Southwest, will identify strongly with the landscape. The bogland is more than a pretty view or an unusual ecosystem. Its an environment that gets into your soul, if you live in it you are bound to explore it. Even though it can be uncompromising, hazardous and difficult to reconnoiter. It appeals, and maybe contributes to, our sense of curiosity and adventure. 

Some of my earliest memories are of stomping in the bogland around my home in a pair of oversized wellies. I don’t think I’m the only one. The child in the foreground is pointing at a contrail. A lot of us leave, but no matter where we go we’ll always be bog babies at heart.

To Limerick!

From here its on to Limerick and another group exhibition: Building Resilience, which is part of Mental Heath Awareness week.

 This painting is going to be on display:

It’s called ‘ A Happy Land Far Away’.  Centenarian cartoon fans may reciognise the title as a variation of Krazy Kat’s catchphraze. The landscape and theme of the painting are an homage to George Herriman, whose strange art has always appealed to me. His battle with his own identity and the clues to his internal conflict pepper his work.

Back to Kenmare! 

Then back home to exhibit at the Kenmare Lace Festival on October 5th. ( Painting revealed soon.)

All in all it’s been a wild ride.


Posted by Di at 12:11 PM 2 comments: Links to this post

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

“This Year in Jerusalem.”

Over the past year American author Jeffrey F. Barken and I have been working on our second project; This Year in Jerusalem. An illustrated book of interconnected short stories.

You may remember Jeff from Mackerel, our experimental interactive collaboration of last year. This time we decided on something more traditional.

Now that I can finally sit back with some objectivity and truly look at it, This Year in Jerusalem really is a great book. The story of two friends, divided by geography and betrayal. Set in both Israel and the USA, it’s a story of family and forgiveness as much as one of politics and division.

It’s was, of course, a challenge. The short story genre can be tough to illustrate without spoiling or diminishing the story arch. Illustration is usually associated with children’s literature, this is very much the opposite.  Some of the themes are  uncompromising and upsetting but all in all it was an immensley fun and rewarding experience.

I decided to go back to basics in term of style and medium and went with black and white sketches in ink with a bamboo pen. I think it suits the subtle yet gritty descriptive language of the book.

Illustration from the story The Draft Dodger. 

We relied heavily on Skype to complete the project and have been in such regular contact that it’s been easy to forget that we haven’t been in the same room for about 6 years. So I’m delighted that Jeff and his wife Avi will be here for the book launch on the 12th of June at I pm at the Bookstop Cafe in Kenmare where we will be signing copies and I will have limited edition prints of selected illustrations.  Everyone welcome.

Author: Sudheerjaat

jaat hain hum

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