I haven't done a blog post for a while but no better time than now as I launch my new Ireland Road Trip print collection and give you a little insight into how it came to be.
The idea to paint beautiful scenic spots from around Ireland has been on my to-do list for some time. I knew it was going to be an awesome project but as time went by and other projects got in the way it got put on the long finger. It didn't help that there are SO many gorgeous Irish beauty spots I just couldn't make up my mind where to begin.
So a couple of months ago I took the bull by the horns. The clincher light bulb moment was when I realised the answer to where I should start was right under my rather prominent Magee nose. Sure wasn't it the Wild Atlantic Way that my family used to holiday when we were little kids?? So that is where I've started my collection, painting some of the key Signature Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way which is special to me and I have painted them in gouache.
Ireland is a wonderful country to do a road trip. There is a crazy abundance of beauty to behold in every county in Ireland, and because our green isle is relatively small it's quite possible to take in a lot of splendid sights in quite a short length of time unless you get distracted by other things like the general craic that you may come across along the way.
My parents were great for road trips and in the old days they used to pack us four young Magee's into the car and head off down the country on holidays in the summer. The Atlantic west coast was their favourite spot. My Dad had a dear friend from Limerick he called O'Connor, and we would often meet O'Connor and his family down in Kilkee, Co. Clare. (His name was Joe but he was always 'O'Connor' and likewise he called Dad 'Magee').
We used to stay in a hotel called the Atlantic which is long gone now. I was very young in the Kilkee days so probably the late '60's (oh God I'm old!!). I remember the excitement every year when Mum and Dad would buy us shiny new buckets and spades even though we probably had a load of them already but every year was like the first time, they had to be brand spanking new. Same with the little fishing nets with the bamboo handles.
Dad had us convinced that we would catch crabs and shrimp at the pollock holes. Ah innocence. I was very young but I do remember sitting at the end of rock pools for hours sweeping my net in the water catching nothing but perhaps a slight chill. We would then walk along the sea front and I have clear memories of people selling bags of periwinkles you would eat with a pin which fascinated me, along with the word periwinkle which I clearly thought was a cute word and actually I still do. We never tried them however, we bought 99's instead.
As you know I like drawing cars and particularly VW's. At this point I'd like to mention that my dear old Dad, the great influencer, had a thing about Volkswagens and drove these cars all the time. In the Kilkee days he had a white VW like this.
Then we got a VW minibus JUST like this.
We thought the VW bus was the business. There weren't many people in our town driving these at the time and us Magee kids got some slagging but we didn't care. We would drive around the countryside and our little heads could see everything we were sitting so high up. The dog would come with us on holidays too and she would sleep inside the bus at night. Therefore you will notice a few VW's appearing now and again in some of my Ireland Road Trip illustrations because I really just had to.
We took our minibus to Achill Island in Co. Mayo a few times and we stayed in a little guest house in Keel. The lady there, who I think was American, would bake us fresh doughnuts served hot and sprinkled with sugar, oh God they were beyond delicious. Memories of exploring the deserted village, the ruins of cottages abandoned during the famine. Also the beautiful powder white sand on the beach, rippling waves, and the dog racing along the sand like a lunatic which we especially loved because she wasn't normally the most active.
And oh! the absolute gore of seeing a dead basking shark hanging upside down on the pier, but anything gross or gruesome like that was always made better by a visit to a shoe shop anywhere, in any town. I used to pester my parents to let me try on shoes as it always helped me feel better because strangely enough I was shoe-crazy at that early stage in my life (maybe not so surprising if you take note of the red socks and white sandals 'look' in the photo above. I was probably just a desperate child trying to find a decent pair of shoes!).
Driving to the stunning Keem Bay and walking on that beach is truly etched on my mind. The road approach, the cliffs, ending up at the most beautiful beach I've ever laid eyes on like somewhere you might see in the Caribbean. I have included an orange VW bus in my Keem Bay illustration which has a little family inside just like us!
Thanks for reading my blog post you have great patience! I'll leave it at this and the hope that you enjoy seeing my new illustrations and reading some of my childhood memories. I look forward to adding more paintings of this beautiful green isle to my collection very soon.
I try to blog once a month but I skipped July because we headed over on a much needed holiday to Marbella in Spain which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Our accommodation, location, food, company ticked all the boxes, but my favourite thing about the holiday was the sunshine and brightness. When we arrived home to Ireland I really noticed how the light was down a few notches, like someone had turned down a dimmer switch.
Ah well, I wasn't able to take home the sunshine but I did take home some design inspiration which I came across in Old Town Marbella. We went there for a meal one night and I spent a good while walking around the shops and took some photographs.
You can see the Rock of Gibraltar from the beach in Marbella and next stop is Africa, so it is not surprising that there is a certain Moroccan/North African influence in some of the designs you see.
Some of the shop displays were an assault to my creative senses most memorable being the fabric patterns in this shop which they used to make all sorts of products from clothes, pj's, shoes, bags etc. The colours and patterns were truly beautiful and initially wanted to buy everything but in the end I settled for taking a few photos.
Then there was the scarf shop which was like an aladdin's cave, even the vintage display cabinets were hand painted beautifully.
Roll on Summer 2018 where I hope to give myself more time to buy a few of these gorgeous things!
For the past few months I've been taking part in the Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Bootcamp which I am absolutely loving! Each month we receive an assignment to design something for the art licensing market which could be anything from abstract backpacks to floral journal covers. This month we had to design a mug with an historical twist.
Ellis Island New York
The first week we were told to research, study photographs and sketch the people who arrived in Ellis Island New York, the place where emigrants from all over the world landed with hopes and dreams for a new life in the promised land of the United States.
It was interesting to learn about Ellis Island especially since so many Irish people arrived there and made America their home. However, looking at the old photographs and the people's faces (in particular their eyes) made me quite sad. Each and every person had left loved one's behind in their native countries, in a lot of cases they would never see their families again.
I felt this assignment would be challenging because I thought to myself, who would want to drink out of a mug with sad faces on it?
Hair styles of Ellis Island
I was surprised when we found out that the Main Assignment was to design a mug focussing on the hairstyles of Ellis Island! This could be the actual hairstyles, what they wore on their heads, or your own interpretation using your own style.
I looked at more photos and kept coming back to the hats of the time and started to focus generally on Edwardian fashion. I thought about the ships arriving at Ellis Island and then I thought about the Titanic and how it never made it to New York on it's maiden voyage from Cork. How nice would it be to design a tea mug with little Edwardian ladies, the type of passengers that would have been drinking tea in 1st or 2nd class on the Titanic?
And so I began my design using watercolour. I painted my ladies and also painted a ladies antique fob watch to add as an element in the design.
I am really delighted with the result! See my product 'mock-up' below :-))
Today is the 2nd May and I'm so delighted we can now say it's officially summertime in Ireland! Happily the weather has decided to fly it's summer wings also.
This morning I made the most of the glorious weather and sat outside having a cup of tea in the sunshine soaking up the gorgeous sights and sounds in my garden. I live on a country lane in Wicklow and love listening to the birds, enjoying the country smells and watching my dogs snoozing in the sun.
My garden is more of a shrubby garden and is quite easy maintenance. We haven't planted a huge amount of bedding plants and get most of our colour from the flowering shrubs and bulb plants we have scattered around.
After my cup of tea this morning I grabbed a basket and foraged around the garden for any colour I could find to use as inspiration for my designs and patterns. I wasn't that hopeful at first, but arrived back inside with what I consider the prettiest bounty of cuttings I've ever assembled. I intend putting this little project to good use with my paint brushes and look forward to sharing my results with you!
If you would like to follow my design progress with this project and other projects I'm getting up to just fill in the 'Sign Up' box below.
At last I've got down to blogging after a busy few weeks. I have started an online Lilla Rogers 'Make Art That Sells' Bootcamp which runs over five months with one assignment project to do per month. The reason I'm doing this Bootcamp is:
In March we had to design a Badass Backpack! The stipulations were that it had to be abstract and based on doodles and freestyle artwork from Week 1, before we knew anything about the backpack assignment.
'Abstract' art is outside of my comfort zone but I soon discovered that all the doodles and scribbles I have been drawing on every drawable surface since I was a child did not go wasted. This abstract thing came very naturally and I was very pleased with the final result! I learnt that there are other aspects to my creativity that I hadn't considered as potentially viable for my business.
I'm really looking forward to the April assignment so please keep an eye out for my upcoming blog posts if you want to see some brand new work and maybe something a little bit different!
My Badass Backpack Design...I hope you like it!!
If you'd like to see the March Bootcamp gallery of all the awesome designs created last month click on the link HERE