Monday 26 April 2021

A Little Update

I haven’t posted in a bit so heres something of an update on what I’ve been working on. 

I’ve had quite a productive lockdown, mainly focused on paintings. I’ve been able to have something of a studio clear out due to the Artist Support Pledge on Instagram, which also allowed me to purchase some amazing works from artists that I love. 

Much of the paintings have been a continuation of my work from last year, looking at contemporary landscape painting around the border region in Northern Ireland. I was interested in ideas about Brexit and issues with rising paramilitaries in the news. I tried to portray stillness in these paintings, and focusing on creating unassuming little vignettes of life on the border, including aspects like old burnt out vehicles or the side of a road, or some signage in them. My dad just informed me that a Give Way sign that I included in one of my paintings had recently been stolen. Great.

I had a painting of a UVF flag included in the Beep painting prize, down in Swansea, although I was unable to attend the exhibition in person due to all the Covid stuff and didn’t want to risk it. The curator, Jonathan Powell, has invited me to partake in an interesting new project about borders, which I’ve just finished up. This should come to fruition later on in the year. Watch this space! I've had a few other digital exhibitions too, check out this screenshot from one last year:

As a response to riots a few years back, I started making a 2D game a bit like a GTA/Lemmings crossover where you have to kettle protesters into a specific area. Unfortunately, a recent upgrade on my computer has made the build a bit unstable, so maybe I’ll spend a day or so soon and work out the kinks and get something usable out of it. Heres hoping. 

I was commissioned a while ago by a friend to do a painting of a famous uilleann piper from an old photograph. This started me on a series based on historic pipers, using black and white photographs as a source. I found it a good challenge to paint these portraits. Pipes, fingers and faces are all hard to capture. I guess I couldn’t have picked a harder subject matter, but I’m very happy with how it’s going.

As a piper with a love of poker, I had an idea many years back to make a deck of cards based on famous pipers/makers. I found my initial idea in an old sketch book while moving house, and I felt that it would be a great time to try this again. The initial inspiration was from a deck of cards that we used to play with when I was a teenager: The Millennium Deck. This had a different portrait on every card of famous politicians, scientists, musicians and artists from the last millennium. I’m about half way through this one, drawing some of the most famous pipers using Procreate on my iPad. I can’t wait to see this finished as a deck of cards. I don’t imagine I’ll sell many but its something I’m doing for the passion of it, and a product I’d love to see in my life. Very niche!

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of music stuff on the side, working slowly on a Celtic Rock Opera which was a lot of fun, but nowhere near finished. I’ve also recorded two albums of Uilleann Pipes, one doing covers of classic Nokia ringtones on historic pipes, and another of straight up traditional solo piping but recorded on an old cassette recorder that I had since I was a kid. This one is coming out soon, just getting the CDs printed at the minute. I think I’ll release on the next Bandcamp Friday. The ringtones album I’m sitting on for now. Seems like not a great idea to release two strange and somewhat novelty albums at the same time. Well, the ringtones is more of an EP experiment.

I’ve also been working on making a mod for the original Half-Life, trying to recreate some of the old buzz from the single player campaign in a condensed way. I have about 80% of the map sketched out, just need to get some play testing done to see how it flows and then I can make changes if necessary. I’m approaching this one a little differently than normal, building very rough brushwork on the maps and then using Procreate to sketch the details in from screenshots, so I can then make the environments a bit more believable and inhabitable. I wanted to make something along the lines of Half-Life: Uplink, that is, a short 1-3 hour game but tight and fun. I’m a big fan of short games, cant be bothered sinking 40-60 hours into a AAA title these days, I just get bored. 

Ok so thats been a busy year for me, more stuff coming, so watch this space.