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Copper Knot WIP

There’s a painting I’ve been wanting to re-do for a while now.  I started the original because I had a lot of leftover orange paint from a previous painting.  What a terrible reason to start a painting!  Anyway, I’d been wanting to do something with a knot that I’ve been toying with for years.  (I was playing with it in 2013.)  I wanted to make the knot the star of the show rather than it being used to frame or decorate something.  I ended up with something a bit seventies; somebody even called it “funky”.

justknotpaintingEver since I finished the painting, I’ve been wanting to paint out the orange ring.  Also, I had wanted the central knot to look 3D but it never happened.  On the plus side, I like the colours in the outer stripes, they remind me of ice cream somehow.  So, what have I been up to.  Well, rather than slap some more paint over the top I thought I’d try out some ideas in Manga Studio.  Here’s pretty much the original colour scheme but with a 3D knot using my newly-acquired skills at imitating old copper.justknotorigcoloursAnd here’s where I’ve tried to limit the colour palette slightly and add some texture.

justknotsnewcoloursIt’s still looking a little too funky for my taste so I’m going to keep experimenting.  I’ll probably do a cut-down digital version composed mainly of the copper knot.


Durrow Drawing

DurrowCarpetI’ve started copying out some of the designs from the library book by Harbison that I mentioned in an earlier post.  The one in the photo is a “carpet” page from the Book of Durrow (click on it if you want to see more detail).  The main reason for copying the picture by hand, rather than photocopying it, is to get to grips with what’s really going on in the design.  This makes it easier when I come to make my own designs.

Crazy Monks

My blog has been quiet recently because I’ve been doing research for my next project (which I mentioned in my previous post).  I’ve been looking at a lot of images on the Internet and reading about the use of symbolism in Christian art.  There’s not much to show for it except a head full of ideas.  Here is one of the ideas that made it as far as my sketchbook.


One of the styles I was considering was to make the image like an old stained glass window.  At the moment though I’m thinking about using the style of the old Celtic manuscripts.  Here are some cats and a peacock that I copied from a book about the Book of Kells.catspeacockSketch

As you can see, the monks who illustrated the Book of Kells weren’t going for realism.  I love the colours on the first cat.

I borrowed a book from the library that had a black and white photo of a page from “Cormac’s Psalter”.  Here is a copy I tried to make of it in my sketchbook.  (I guessed the colours.)


Unless you look closely (try clicking on the photo) it’s easy to miss the craziness of this piece.  For example, the mouthless heads at the top right are particularly baffling.  I love the interwoven laces in the background.  I tried to use this kind of random lacing in my “Deep Peace” drawing (behind the words “PEACE” and “TO YOU”).

Peace to You in 2014

I wish you all deep peace in the new year.


This is a piece I did a few years ago.  I wanted to decorate a piece of calligraphy in a similar style to the Book of Kells.  The verse is part of an old Celtic blessing which goes:

Deep peace of the running wave to you,

Deep peace of the flowing air to you,

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,

Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you.

Here is a close-up of one of the knots:


I’m Done With Magpies

Since you last saw them, the magpie and wyrms have been causing trouble.  Now that the dust has settled I think it was the frame that started it.  When I put the original design in the frame it just didn’t look right at all.  Maybe I should have bought a different frame but instead I tried a different background.  And another.  It’s been driving me crazy.  I got so tired of it today that I just gave up and glued it.  I can’t change it now.  My daughter said it looked alright so I’ll just have to trust her.  Most times when I work on something I go past the point where I can see it objectively any more.  All I see are the details and not the overall effect.  I suppose that’s why I ask for feedback here*.  Do you experience this problem, dear reader?

framed*Thanks for all the feedback so far, by the way.  It has been much appreciated.

Getting Knotted – It’s a Human Thing

In case you haven’t been following this blog, I like knots.  I crochet and I like to draw Celtic knots.  I have also experimented with the type of knots found in Islamic art.  African - Right Side of a Double-page Illuminated Frontispiece - Walters W5563B - Full PageNow, thanks to a couple of Internet friends, I have found two more styles of knotwork which are very similar to Celtic interlace.  The first – Croatian interlace – evolved on the same continent.Hrvatski pleter  The second – mizuhiki (水引) – evolved in Japan.
Mizuhiki plant
It seems that wherever there are human innovators there are also complex knots.

Magpie & Wyrms – Is this any good?

I’ve been working on the background for my “magpie and wyrms” piece.  The first background I had planned didn’t work.  I was beating myself up about this when I stumbled upon a new idea.  It was inspired by a programme about autumn colour in Japan which I was (mostly not) watching during the beating-up process.  I would really appreciate any constructive feedback on this (the picture, not whether I should be beaten-up ;)):


I want something a bit vague and “messy” to balance the hard lines of the magpie and wyrms.  The leaves look a little like flames to me, which ties in with the dragons, I guess.  The magpie and wyrm pieces aren’t fixed yet so if you don’t like it I can try something else.

The Wyrms are Woven

From this:


To this:

afterweaveThe thicker paper was harder to weave but I managed it eventually.  The up-side is that the thicker paper means that the pieces stay locked into this knot shape without glue.  The one I made with thinner paper falls apart quite easily.

Weaving Paper Again

I have been (slowly) working on my first piece for the Mayo Artist’s Show.  I was going to do one of my usual 2-dimensional knots but then my earlier experimentation with paper-weaving took me in a slightly new direction.  I thought it might be interesting to blog the work as it progresses.   Here is the original old sketch that the new work will be based on:

The final piece is going to consist of the knotted wyrms and the bird.  The dogs are okay but they don’t fit into the “story” of the picture.  I think I want the bird to be a magpie so it might change slightly.  The heads on the wyrms will be changing too.  The first step was to transfer the knot to graph-paper and experiment with the wyrm heads:
The next step was to separate out the wyrms and divide the long wyrm to eliminate overlapping parts:
Now the wyrms can be woven:
Next I transferred the wyrms to better paper:
I messed up one of the long wyrm pieces so I had to do that one again:
That’s it so far.

The Mayo Artists’ Show is Coming Again

The Mayo Artists’ Show is a biennial exhibition that is open to all artists in the county of Mayo in Ireland.  Artists can submit up to two pieces of art without providing evidence of any of the credentials that exhibitions usually require.  This is great for me because I don’t have any art qualifications and I’ve never sold a piece of art in my life.  I managed to get two pieces into the exhibition last time, and one the time before.  Here they are (sorry about the rubbish photography):

Enemies at Dinas Emrys smallcornucopia smallbikes small

The first one is called “Enemies at Dinas Emrys” after a story about dragons.  It uses Celtic Interlace and stylized dragons.  The second one is called “Cornucopia” and was produced by spraying paint through a piece of crochet and a few pieces of my childrens’ construction sets.  The third one is called “Two bikes, two lights” and is a painting of the pattern made by…  Can you guess?!  The colour doesn’t show up very well in the photo; it’s actually more green than it looks here.

Well the show is coming around again so I’m planning two more pieces to submit.  This year the entries have to be less than 20cm in any direction.  This suits me very well because I naturally work small and have to make an effort to make my art big.  I’ve decided to do one with Celtic interlace and one with origami and possibly some Japanese calligraphy.  I hope I can get them ready in time for the submission dates (14th-16th November).