7 conclusions about making art

Don’t people change over the years! It’s interesting sometimes to look back – and to see where you’ve come from.

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I was doing this recently and I have to say that it opened a bit of a can of worms. I have reached a few conclusions alright but first, what you see above is a slideshow of paintings that I’ve done since I graduated from art college in the year 2000. 

When I started off, I was making abstract paintings with the emphasis on the emotional impact of colours. I loved it. But d’you know, a certain art critic wrote a scornful article about them and let me tell you, that affected me for a long time afterwards.  (I kept at it anyway and I’ve received some better reviews since then, thankfully). Anyway, when I became involved in the anti-war movement some years later, I found that I couldn’t say what I wanted to say in abstract and I (reluctantly) began to make more figurative work. Then, during the Celtic Tiger years, I began to make work that referred to the Homeless. In truth, it was really about the search/ yearning for ‘Home’. More recently, my thoughts have turned to emigration and to the Irish Diaspora and I started on a series of ‘empty hearths’. I was up in Donegal, and I couldn’t help noticing the number of abandoned and derelict houses.

So that’s what I’ve been at. Some people may be surprised that my work keeps changing but it’s simply because I’m interested in what’s happening in the world around me. I don’t think that artists should lock themselves away in ivory towers but still, I think you need a quiet studio for painting.

And now, to my conclusions. First: you must follow your muse;  if you get an idea, you have to try it out, you just never know where it might take you. Second: you really shouldn’t let those critics get to you;  just keep on going your own way. Third: (and this is not mine) but a wise tutor once said: “Rule number One: Don’t Panic”. Fourth: Art just ‘happens’ – you could be struggling away in the studio for ages but then, out of the blue, art just ‘happens’. Fifth: Plans, hah, you can make plans and it’s no harm of course but – things just ‘happen’. Have you heard of Synchronicity? Sixth: You can’t please everyone, don’t try! Seventh: Make sure that you spend more time working in the studio and less time reading stuff like this.

However, I would love to hear your comments so, if any of you out there in Bloggyland has advice for me, it’s ok to spend a little time here (!) And there’s more detailed information about all my work at www.eoinmaclochlainn.com

Slán go fóill, eoin


  1. Hi Eoin,

    Your 7 points could be ‘The Artist’s Manifesto’.

    Re point 5, I think planning encourages us to focus on where we want to go while along the path, its important to remain open to opportunities, synchronicity and serendipity.

    I like the quote by Price Pritchett:
    “If you send a rocket towards the moon, about 90% of the time, it’s off course. It finds it way to the moon by continually making mistakes and correcting them.”

    I read this as nothing is straightforward, we have to keep moving forward towards want we want.


  2. Great to see how the work has changed over the years Eoin, as a response to “what’s happening” in the world around you.
    Very interesting post


  3. In the world I live in, dominated by concrete business plans, key performance indicators and critical success factors, all focused on getting jobs done and targets met, I am hoping against hope that someone with an artist’s eye and mind can take the space to listen more deeply to what is happening in our society, with time to follow threads of thought that emerge slowly, organically, from that listening and to create something new for the rest of us mad rushers-by to observe and learn from.



  4. Eoin, Buíochas as do thaithí agus do shaothar a roinnt! Mar a deir Batman “The true crimefighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt.”



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