Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season's Greetings

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Thanks especially to all my regular readers for stopping by the blog.
Here's a sketch of one of my favourite pictures from A Christmas Carol.
If you look very hard, it almost looks as if it's really snowing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Old Sketch on an Envelope

This little drawing on the back of an envelope turned up the other day.
It's a portrait of a lovely Welsh guy I used to know, named Dale Evans. We shared college digs for a year when I first went to Brighton Art College.
We were about twenty then.
I think it's a pretty good picture, maybe I should do more drawings on envelopes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Robert Dunbar's Christmas Book Choice

Robert Dunbar was very kind to me in his round-up of recommended Christmas books.
You can listen to his interview with RTE's Pat Kenny here.
Many thanks Robert.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"What Kate Did Next"

On Saturday night I went to see a wonderful play, called "Terminus" by Mark O'Rowe.
I was invited along by one of the play's stars, a terrific young actress named Kate Brennan.
That's Kate on the right hand side.
She is from a very well-known Irish acting family, and it's great to see her doing so well in the family business.
Kate has developed into a very powerful performer, but she was already impressive twelve years ago, when my friend Ann Kavanagh suggested she would be perfect to model for the central character in the book I was about to start work on.
It was in large part thanks to Kate, and Maya Jussek, who modelled for her grandmother, that "When Jessie Came Across the Sea" worked so well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Academic Tradition

We had a full house last night for my talk at the National Print Museum in Dublin.
Many thanks to everyone who braved the cold to come along.
Unfortunately the recording didn't go to plan, so instead, I will chop the talk down, and do it as a formal podcast when I get the chance.
In the lecture I touched a little on the subject of the academic painting tradition, and how it came to be inherited by American illustrators like Howard Pyle and NC Wyeth.
Here's another of my academic studies.
This one is of Mike holding the studio brush.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Illustration: The Cinderella Art-form

"Saturday Evening Post" cover by Norman Rockwell 1922

Here's a reminder of the talk I will be giving to-morrow evening.
I hope to be able to record and podcast it at some future date for anyone who can't get along.

"Illustrator PJ Lynch will give a lecture entitled Illustration: The Cinderella Art-form at The National Print Museum in Dublin, on Thursday 3rd December 2009 at 7.30pm. Admission is free.

He will discuss how in the area of children’s books, authors are generally, and thoughtlessly privileged over illustrators. And how in the visual arts arena, illustration is very often categorized as being at best, a lesser, junior art-form, and, at worst some sort of low brow craft, tainted by commercial motivations. Lynch asks if the boundaries between disciplines are breaking down, and whether contemporary illustrators can rise above the limits imposed by tired old definitions."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oppenheim Platinum Award.

Walker Books and Candlewick Press have brought together three glorious Christmas stories that I have illustrated ,"The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey", "A Christmas Carol" and "The Gift of the Magi" in a wonderful three volume slipcase, lavishly packaged and produced.

Andwe have just heard that the PJ Lynch Classic Christmas Collection has won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Two Paintings of Tony

Two more of my paintings of Tony.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Here's another more finished study of Tony.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rapid Sketch in Oils

Here's a small oil sketch that I did of one of our new models, Tony. I only had a half an hour on this one, but I think the rapidity of the brush strokes works pretty well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Nutcracker Book and Exhibition Launch

I will be at W5 in Belfast tomorrow, November 14th from about 2pm, for the launch of the Nutcracker display and the book that W5 have made from it.
There is a fee to enter W5 , but if you are in the area, and you have children aged between 4 and 15, it is a wonderful place to visit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Still Life of Old Books

I haven't posted a still life for a while.
Here's a slightly different one of a couple of old books.
It still has that quiet, uncluttered quality that I aim for with the still life paintings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

PJ Talks

I am delighted to be taking part in a very cool event called Offset 2009 here in Dublin this weekend.
I'm afraid the whole thing is already booked out, which is a tribute to the organizational abilities of the organizers, including my pal BrenB.

However, I will also be giving a lecture entitled Illustration: The Cinderella Artform at The National Print Museum in Dublin, on Thursday 3rd December 2009. Admission is free.

Here's the blurb.

"Making use of historical and contemporary examples of Artist/Illustrators as diverse as Michelangelo and Leonardo, and Picasso and Bono, Irish illustrator PJ Lynch will explore the changing definitions of Art and Illustration, and will discuss why the distinction between 'fine art' and 'commercial art' seems to be so crucial in the 21st century."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Emperor Giuseppe

I've posted at least one study of Giuseppe before. Here's another more finished painting.
I think that setting the figure within his context always makes for a better picture than a study of a figure floating in space. Of course you need plenty of time to do this.
I enjoyed rendering the fairly swanky chair too, and altogether, I liked the rather imperial look that Giuseppe has in this one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Nutcracker

This is the cover of the Nutcracker book that W5 are publishing to coincide with the launch of the exhibition's second run starting in mid-November.
Just like last year, W5 will be showing all the original art and drawings that I did for the giant walk-through display.
I'm delighted that the book will also be available to a wider audience from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life Painting of Des

I was very pleased with this recent painting of Des.
He's great at holding a standing pose like this for several hours without complaint.
I particularly like the little passage of loose brushwork describing his right hand. My usual habit would be to delineate each finger, but I've been leaving my paintings a little bit unfinished recently, and I think they are all the better for it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Pictures of Angelique

Here's another great drawing from my life drawing session, where the artist has included me in the background.It's always interesting to see how another artist tackles the same subject that I've been painting, and Oisín Roche has really surpassed himself with this charcoal and pastel study. He has included an extraordinary range of colour and tones, and has tied the whole composition together masterfully.

The painting that you can see me concentrating so hard on is shown below.
A rather more pedestrian effort than Oisín's, I'm afraid, I wasn't having a good morning.
The model is a very nice French girl named Angelique.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fairy Kiss

Here is a giff showing a piece which is the latest of all the 3d layered experiments that I have been doing.
If the picture doesn't move a little bit, just click on this link, and you should be able to see it working.
I was asked by Helen Maguire to design an image of a fairy blowing a kiss for the cover of her book of poetry entitled The Fairy Kiss.
The really intriguing thing for me was that the cover was to be reproduced in an advanced lenticular 3d process.
Helen works with 3d artist and photographer, John Mitton, and when she showed me their amazing 3d work, I knew I had to have a go. The giff gives just a rough idea of how the 3d image will look when printed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The RUA Conor Prize for a Figurative Work

At last week's opening of the RUA's Annual Exhibition in Belfast, I was thrilled to be awarded the Conor Prize for a figurative work for my painting of Clown Johnny K.
The prize commemorates William Conor (1881 – 1968). Described as "Ulster's best-loved artist", Conor was perhaps best known for his drawings of working class Belfast people, so I am particularly honoured to have won the prize bearing his name.

The RUA’s Annual Exhibition runs from the 2 – 31 October 2009 in the old Northern Bank on the corner of Waring St and North St, Belfast.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Balor of the Evil Eye

I was selecting some images for an article in Fantasy Art Magazine, a Chinese print and on-line publication.
Here's one of Balor of the Evil Eye from "The Names upon the Harp" that I hope they will use. It is my favourite illustration from that book and, of all my book illustrations, I feel that this is one where I got the technical balance between tight descriptive painting and atmospheric mark-making just right.

Friday, September 25, 2009

RUA Annual Exhibition

I was lucky enough to get a couple of my paintings into the RUA Annual Exhibition this year.
One is a nude study of clown Johnny K, and the other is The Man in the Purple Suit.
The exhibition is at the Northern Bank in central Belfast from the 2nd October.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Painting of Giuseppe

Giuseppe is a terrific Italian model who can really hold a pose.
I was very happy to have left this painting with some nice blocky brushwork still showing, rather than over-working it as I have been known to do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Self-Portraits

Here's is an interesting comparison of two of my self-portraits.
The first was done when I was twenty and the second twenty seven years later. Boy that makes me feel old!
I obviously spent a lot more time on the first one, and I do think it's a pretty good drawing, but although various parts are well observed, I don't think the face quite fits in the head properly. The second is a twenty minute sketch, and I think I prefer that looseness and immediacy.
Away from the technical side, it is with very mixed feelings that I look back on young PJ starting out on his artistic career, so full of potential, and enthusiasm. And to compare him with the older man who has experienced all those years between the two of them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Books '09 Festival

I was scheduled to be artist in residence for the Books '09 Festival at the National Gallery of Ireland.
Unfortunately, it looks as if that won't be happening.
I had been asked to do a large oil painting in the atrium of the gallery during the two days of the festival. It was a scary prospect, but I agreed to do it. Unfortunately, some of the "powers that be" at the National Gallery must have feared that I might go bonkers and start splattering oil paint all around me, so they stipulated that I was only to use dry media.
Whilst I was still happy to do what I had originally agreed to, alas I was not in the position to do a crash course in pastels, and I didn't think chalks would create the desired effect. So that residency is not going to happen this year.
It's a great shame as it would have been nice to create something in such august surroundings, and I think the pressure of working in public might have pushed me to do some good work.
I might yet do a talk of some sort with slides, and I will post details if we can arrange something.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Poison Glen, Donegal

I chanced upon this video by Enya, which was filmed in a beautiful and rugged part of Donegal with the very intriguing name, The Poison Glen.
I know the area pretty well, as for several years, I used to spend New Year's Eve there with a friend whose house was right at the end of the glen. The view of the lake from her house was very inspiring, and I based this illustration from Marie Heaney's "The Names Upon The Harp" on it.

It's nice to hear Enya's magical music, and to be reminded of "Na Leatha Geal M'óige", the bright days of my youth.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rosemary Hetherington Wins Children's Books Ireland Award

I wanted to mark the fact that this year's Children's Books Ireland Award went to my old friend Rosemary Hetherington, children's librarian in Dublin City Council’s library service, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books.

“Within the libraries, in classrooms and alongside parents and teachers she has worked tirelessly to promote children's books over the years - and continues to do so. It is precisely this kind of dedication - which can be a hidden feature of the work that goes on day after day - to ensure that as many children as possible encounter and come into contact with books that this award seeks to recognise” commented Jane O’Hanlon, Chair of CBI board.

I would like to add my sincere congratulations to Rosemary, who was delighted, I am very pleased to say, with the original illustration of mine from A Christmas Carol that CBI generously presented to her.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Book based on the Nutcracker Exhibition at W5

Those lovely people at W5 in Belfast are putting together a book based on the Nutcracker exhibition that I designed last year. We always talked about a book of the show as a possibility, but now it is going to happen, it is a somewhat surprising bonus.
The Nutcracker show will be on again this year and the book will be sold by W5 but, I'm afraid, I don't think it's going to be widely available beyond Northern Ireland, well not this year at least.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"The Nightingale and the Rose"

Here's another multiplane picture from college days.
It illustrates the climactic scene from Oscar Wilde's fairy tale, "The Nightingale and the Rose", and below is the illustration I did for the same scene in "Oscar Wilde: Stories for Children" which I illustrated about five years after leaving college.
It is interesting to compare the two pieces. I think it was a good move for me to ditch the experimental medium. Funnily enough though, I am looking into doing a 3d illustration with an Irish company that has developed amazing 3d print technology.

Again, I have to say that, much as I love Oscar Wilde, the subject of a little bird sacrificing itself on a rose thorn is something I would think twice about presenting to my own kids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Multiplane Snoopy Picture

Whilst I'm still on my nostalgia trip, here is a photo from a project I did when I was at Brighton College of Art.
I was fascinated with the art of Disney movies, and particularly with the Multiplane camera that gave movies like Snow White and Pinnochio a stunning sense of depth.
I created my own multiplane set-up by painting the central action on an acetate cel, and the foreground and background elements on watercolour paper. Then I raised the various planes a few inches away from each other by jamming them in between piles of books on my desk. Lastly I lit the scene in different ways using anglepoise lamps, and took lots of photographs.
I'll try to find a coloured version and I'll post that too.

There's a bit of a creepy flavour to some of my work from those days. I don't know what was going on in my head.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Model-Making at Art College

I used to love sculpting little figures, and, in this case, I coloured and dressed the figure, and set it in a little set that I had made.
I think I did this when I was doing a Foundation course at Jordanstown in Northern Ireland, and it shows one of the diverse directions that my career might have gone in if things had panned out differently.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Unused Decoration from “East o' The Sun, West o' The Moon”

On my recent attic rummaging I found several interesting items.
Here's a little crest that I did for “East o' The Sun, West o' The Moon”.
I remember I had an idea that I wanted the book to be lavishly decorated in the style of Gennady Spirin. However, when I tried to emulate his beautiful design elements, I found I just didn't have his skill, nor the application to do it anything like as well as I wanted to.
Luckily, the designers at Walker books steered me to work to my own strengths, such as characterization, and story-telling in my illustrations.
I'm glad this little fragment didn't make it into the finished book, but it's enlightening for me now to look back on the creative process, where what gets left out is sometimes as important as what is included.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Painting from my School Days

Another rummage in an attic turned up a few old student pictures that I had all but forgotten about.
Here is a watercolour I did at school of a good friend of mine called Dermot Morrisey. It was a very early effort using photographic reference.
Dermot was a tremendous guitarist and a very funny guy. Somehow he ended up in a career in law enforcement.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Still-Life

Here's another one.
The originals are just 15 x 20 cm.
It's a great size to work on, as it discourages one from getting too fussy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Port Bottle Still-Life

Here's another one.
It's a great looking bottle of port that I caught my eye.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Still Life

It's always hard getting back to work after a holiday.
I did a few little still-life paintings to get the old drawing arm going again.
I like the looseness of the handling in this one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Clown Johnny K revisited

Here's another life painting I did of Johnny K.
Mick O'Dea's very fine study from the same day's painting is in the present show at the RHA in Dublin.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Ghastly Griffin from The Bee-man of Orn

Here's a detail from one of my preparatory sketches for The Bee-man of Orn that I felt deserved to be looked at a little bit more closely. You'd hardly notice this chap in the final book as he appears as a small part of a much bigger picture.
I love drawing mythical beasts, and, before too long I hope to create a book all about them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

At the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry

I had a really great time at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry. Above is a shot I took of a typical enthusiastic attendee of the festival.
Many thanks to all of you who travelled down for my events.
It was an honour and a pleasure to be interviewed by my old friend Robert Dunbar, who confided with us afterwards, over dinner, the very exciting news that he was about to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College Dublin for his enormous contribution to children's books in Ireland over many years.
Many congratulations Robert.

It was lovely to hang out in beautiful West Cork for a couple of days with other friends, such as Niam Sharkey, Sarah Webb and Martina Devlin. I am very much looking forward to getting to work on an unusual kind of portrait that Martina has asked me to do.
Thanks again to all of the festival organisers, particularly Sinead Collins and Ian McDonagh for making it such an enjoyable experience.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Female Life Painting: Alicia

This is a life painting I did of Alicia. She has a very intriguing look about her. Reminded me a lot of the kind of models that Gwen John painted so beautifully.
I look forward to painting her again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Snow Queen

This October Andersen Press are publishing a new edition of my version of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
It was originally published in 1993, so I think it was overdue for a re-vamp.
Andersen have completely redesigned the book and I have digitally reworked the image of the Snow Queen on her throne for the new cover.
I had always wanted this to be the cover image, so many thanks to Klaus, Beccy and everyone at Andersen for making a little dream of mine come true.

West Cork Literary Festival 2009

I'm doing a couple of events at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry next week.
I will also be exhibiting a selection of original art at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry.
There is a great line-up for the festival, and Niamh Sharkey will also be exhibiting original paintings.
I hope to see some of you there.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Horses and Tortoises, Stories from Africa"

I was very honoured to be asked by Katy FitzPatrick of the Hugh Lane Gallery, to launch "Horses and Tortoises, Stories from Africa".
Here is a picture of me with a very talented bunch of authors (including my old friend Siobhan Parkinson on the far left) illustrators and organisers at the launch in the Sean Scully room of the gallery.

"Horses and Tortoises, Stories from Africa" is a collection of 10 short stories for children, written and illustrated by women from the African Women’s Network, with assistance from writer Siobhan Parkinson and artist Felicity Clear. The project is part of the Hugh Lane Gallery’s community programme, and the purpose of the book is to provide a resource through which Irish children can learn about traditional African culture. It will be sent to every primary school in the country, as well as to libraries, but won’t be on general sale – unless a publisher takes it up. Enquiries to Katy Fitzpatrick, education curator, tel: 01-2225553.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Daniella," Female Life Drawing

It was a nice change to do a life drawing rather than a painting of Daniella.
Some of us were chatting afterwards about how important it is to understand the anatomy of the human body to do a good life drawing. Of course there are many different approaches to drawing the figure, but for me, when I'm doing a drawing like this, the underlying structure is almost insignificant. It's all about the light, and shadow, and the texture of whatever is before me.
That is not to say that you treat your subject as if she were a pile of pillows. No, the interaction in the life room should ensure that the model is always respected as a person, and treated in a professional way.
For me, that is where a small element of portraiture becomes crucial. It takes the exercise onto a different level from a still-life drawing or painting.
A good understanding of anatomy is essential however, for a representational artist or illustrator when they are creating a figure from the imagination. A great example is John Watkiss, who was at Brighton Art College a year or two ahead of me. John's knowledge of anatomy is extraordinary. He has since created comic books, and gallery art, but you would be most familiar with his work, albeit indirectly, through his inspirational studies for the Disney movie, Tarzan.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"PJ Painting Bruno" by Blaise Smith

A couple of weeks ago at life drawing Blaise Smith, included me in the background of his drawing of our young model, Bruno.
I was painting away very intently in my dungarees, and luckily I had no idea that Blaise was drawing me or I might have become a bit self-conscious.
As well as doing a lovely figure drawing, I think he captured my concentration very well in just a few strokes.
It's also really interesting to see two renditions of the same model from different angles, each tackled in a very different way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Technique of Illustrating Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Fairy Tales’

The National Gallery of Ireland has been given a wonderful gift of of ten superb original colour illustrations by Harry Clarke (1889-1931) which were executed for Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Fairy Tales', published in 1916 by Harrap & Co. in London.

The jewel-like colour illustrations, all in pristine condition, have been in a private collection since the 1920s. They were recently purchased and presented as a gift to the National Gallery by Lochlann and Brenda Quinn.

As part of the Gallery's Summer Lecture series celebrating the acquisition of these wonderful illustrations, I will be giving a talk on "The Technique of Illustrating Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Fairy Tales’", with particular regard to the Clarke paintings of course.

Tuesday 16th June

Talks are free and take place in the
National Gallery's lecture theatre. No booking required.
For information, contact Education: 01 663 3505

So if any of you are up and about in Dublin early next Tuesday, do come along.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stony River Farm Blog

For any of you who are aspiring writers, I can really recommend Susan's Stony River Farm blog.
It's always really entertaining and very informative on competitions, grants and outlets where writers might get published.
This week she has everything from links to a first novel competition, to someone who's looking for stories in 55 words or less.
And lots of personal and funny stuff too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life Painting of Angelique

Here's another life painting.
In this painting of Angelique, I tried hard to keep a very harmonious colour palate.
It's a slightly awkward pose, but I'm pretty happy with how this one worked out, especially in the way the light falls across the model's face.