Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Over the years I've painted poppies many times and in many different formats. Alas! I did not see any poppies while I stayed in the gardens at Birr Castle; it was the wrong time of year so there won't be any in this new body of work.

I've taken time away from painting in the last two weeks to review many of my photographs and paintings. I'm looking for something, but I don't know what. I'm hoping this process will help me come to terms with whatever it is I'm supposed to discover about my work. Following is a sequence of work from 2007 back to when I first started painting seriously. If anyone has any words of wisdom in what they see, I'd appreciate hearing them.

Progression #2 (2007) 10 x 34 , paper, photo transfer, acrylic paint, mediums on canvas

Poppies are one of my favourite flowers. I love their tallness, fragility of petals and boldness of colour. I love them at every stage, before bursting into bloom and spent. The seed pods have sculptural qualities that always make me want to paint them in a very stark style. The seeds themselves are prolific which account for the tenacity and spreading quality of poppies. Wild poppies, fragile and supple, create such delicate dots in the vastness of country fields.

Connections (2006) 16 x 16in. photo transfer, paper, acrylic paint, acrylic mediums on canvas

Connections is my favourite painting of this subject matter. Unfortunately it graces someone else's wall now, not mine. There are times I'm sorry I've put a work for sale. This is one of my biggest regrets.

Emerging (2005) 18 x 24, paper, acrylic paint and mediums on canvas

Big, bold and beautiful. What's left to say?

Cycle (2004) 12 x 12 in. acrylic on canvas

This was one of my first paintings executed long before my current interest in creating complex surfaces using many layers and different materials. Some of the same ideas are expressed in Connections, but in a totally different way. What a difference two years can make.

Displaced (2003) 7 X 12 in., acrylic paint and gel on canvas

I always feel a little sad to see a flower removed from its natural environment, but I selfishly continue to let my desire for their beauty overcome this reluctance. This following text is written vertically on the right.

Plucked from nurturing soil and forced to rethink the notion of home.


self taught artist said...

well, this is quite the bouquet or art today...I have no words of wisdom, only impressions of what i see.
The first piece strikes me as antique and Victorian. You have a way with some pieces that take me to a place and time that I can only imagine. I feel like I'm looking through a frosted window of an old abandoned home, inside everything is torn, disused, dead but then I see color and life and beauty.

I like cycle the most and i think it has to do with the crispness the blondish background and how it is obviously art but looks like it could be part of a an old science type book.

i have often heard artists say that about selling work and the ensuing regret even years later. I have never felt is always such a feeling of freedom to let another piece go and unclutter my world and give me more space to create more.

Margaret Ryall said...

Thanks for the positive comments Paula. I know flowers aren't your favourite content in art. I am definitely attracted to pattern, the effects of the passage of time and "oldness" and I like to try to put all those things together in my work. I find beauty in odd places. While this work is about flowers and their beauty goes without saying, I also find a rusted piece of metal, an eroding statue or a torn curtain just as beautiful and evocative.

Cycle, which you liked, was created at a time when my interest was stripping away background distraction and looking at everything close up. I guess the pared down backgrounds have given way to the opposite. Cycle is also the first piece I did that had a time sequence thing happening in it that required (in my mind) separate canvases attached.

Whatever the approach (focusing on the object and ignoring the background or layering lots of information around the image), they are all ways to draw the viewer in and to "control the viewing situation".

Nancy Natale said...

Margaret, I like your progression painting most of all because it seems to be about the essence of the flower. I think you should make more work with the things you like such as rusted metal and stop working on flowers for now. Or think about what it is you really like about the flower - the rich color in the midst of all the green, the form, the fragility? Can you express that without painting the flower itself?

Or, instead of looking at your own work, look through some art magazines and tear out work you like (best to own the magazines first). Maybe seeing what you respond to will help you see what you are looking for in your own work.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I hope that you will continue to find it interesting.

Margaret Ryall said...

All good comments, some of which I have already tried. I have a very good sense of what I like/what attracts me and why I want to create work. I have created other work apart from flowers which I should post, to give a more representative view of my work. I

I am an obsessive reader of art magazines/books and an online viewer, so I see lots of art. Interestingly enough, I am just as happy working abstractly, but I don't seem to go there very often. Right now I am struggling with how to express the themes from my garden experiences less literally. I think that is why I am reviewing my work and not making a move to paint in the last while. Too much reading of blogs these days , but I am enjoying it and connecting with the work of other artists.