Diary of the Plague Year: Day 15 30 March 2020: A thing worth doing …

It is a bitterly cold day with a freezing wind. Just finished writing a proposal for an AIR at UCD. I probably don’t stand a hope in hell but feel I have nothing to lose.

Watching the film on Vermeer was curiously sustaining considering he is such a magician. You should really feel like giving up in the face of such mastery but curiously it has the opposite effect.

There have been times when I have just felt like throwing in the towel. Sometimes it feels like too hard a life, full of petty frustrations. So it is important to keep reading about artists/watching films like this – for one thing Vermeer himself died in debt and was more-or-less forgotten about for years. And for another, because had I ever given up and had afterwards seen that film, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown at the realisation of what I had lost.

What I mean is, and to put it simply, I want to live in a world where how light falls and how you put down a small blob of paint or a brushstroke really matters. And what is exciting and really important is the juxtaposition and relationship between two colours. However badly you do it. Because a thing worth doing is worth doing badly.

Off to the studio which in weather like this is the only warm room in the house.


Diary of the Plague Year: Day 9 25 March 2020: to Work

On the radio: Cello Suite by Bach, Alisa Weilerstein R3.

Black Dyke Band playing Rusalka – Song to the Moon. Fabulous.



My painting shed. Just started a new series, The Silk Road. One finished called: The Silk Road: Persian Iris. I am really enjoying myself despite everything as it the first time I have had the time and space to simply get on with work without worrying about getting a part-time job/doing a part-time job and can just concentrate.  It makes all the difference.

The weather continues cold and dreary so have ordered more firewood from good old Conor as I especially do not want to run out at this time.  The fire is very comforting.

Have started a one-day fast God help me.

Had SingalongaLudwig in the shed to the Choral Fatasie.  I felt a bit sorry for my neighbours, the cows, who probably thought it was the dying screams of some strange wild animal.  Came in to find a Beethoven sonata just about to start on R3. Synchronicity.



Diary of the Plague Year: Day 8 24 March 2020: more from The Black Notebook; Barnett Newman

‘The driving force of modern painting has been to change, to reconstitute the painting medium from a photographic technique of realistic rendering into a medium of pure expression. Modern painting is an attempt to change painting into a poetic language, to make pigment expressive rather than representational.

It is in poetry that the problem of handling a realistic tool, a tool that permits of realism without being realistic, has been solved. In music, the pure abstract element of tone has made it easy. Sometimes attempts have been made in music to imitate naturalistic sounds, but those attempts are unnatural and not very usual. It is easier and more natural for music to deliver its message, to present its concepts, in terms of the abstract nature of notes of sound. In music there never is an attempt to relate sound to any conventional prejudice, or natural sound, whereas in literature and in painting it is natural for us to associate the word or the painted object with the thing in nature, to combine its evocative nature with its appearance. In poetry, however, the element of music contained in it has permitted the artist to approach the abstract handling of the language usual in music, so that we have learned to react to the words themselves. The whole drive of poetry, therefore, and in recent times of painting and prose, has been in the direction of music, to divorce the languages of literature and of painting from the conforming dichotomy of meaning inherent in their media so that they would function purely and abstractly in the manner of musical notes.

…since the important truth underlying the creation of any art form and determining any style concerns man’s relation not with the universe but with himself.

Selected Writings and Interviews
Barnett Newman




A Diary of the Plague Year: Day 8 24 March 2020: more from The Black Notebook; Vincent

To struggling painters everywhere (and we are always struggling):

“However hateful painting may be, and however cumbersome in the times we are living in, if anyone who has chosen this handicraft, pursues it zealously, he is a man of duty, sound and faithful.”

Vang Gogh

I think Vincent deserves a page to himself.

A Diary of the Plague Year: Day 5 21 March 2020:

Yes, indeed it is raining again. Just had breakfast of porridge and honey before going in to Clon to collect my work from the framer before they shut indefinitely.  A lot of businesses are going to go to the wall during this crisis. It is a terrible thing. I hope Kate comes through.  She is lovely and her frames are wonderful. She also supports a lot of artists through the gallery and frame shop.

The Loft Gallery, Clonakilty:


Just put these works on Facebook.  I am usually not keen on FB but an artist called Matthew Burrows has started a great initiative called the ARTISTS’ SUPPORT PLEDGE. It is way for artists to support each other which we always like to do.

@matthewburrowsstudio Yesterday I instigated the
#artistsupportpledge within hours I had multiple pledges and hope to be able to report the first completion today. It’s a simple concept, you post images of your work you are willing to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping.) Every time you reach £1000 of sales you pledge to buy another of the artists work for £200.
This creates a small but dynamic market were all can contribute whatever their level of success. This is a culture dependent on the honesty and generosity of our artistic communities at every level. So make a pledge, post your work with the #artistsupportpledge Please repost this and make a pledge. I look forward to seeing your work. @matthewburrowsstudio #supportartists #art #culture #kunst #generosity #artists #artworld #artcommunities #artistcommunities.

I have listed the following works:

A series called China Club 8.5 x 8.5 inches, acrylic on linen:

China Club

Something Comes and Something Goes 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic on linen:

Something Comes and Something Goes

Summer Palace 11 inches x 15 inches, acrylic on linen:

Summer Palace


Some words: A tear in the fabric.