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The Artist by The Artist: Helen Magee (aka Hairy Fruit Art)
A little about me… I don’t have a cosmopolitan artistic background (I wish I did!) but I do hail from a family of artists, so art is in the blood so to speak. I was somewhat surprised when I excelled at art in my leaving certificate but at that stage I had chosen a different career path, which had nothing to do with art.
I took up regular oil painting in the ‘90s when I got married, setting up my easel in the little porch of my first little home, down at Greystones harbour. I sold almost every oil painting that I have produced over the years, and I do regret not taking more photos of them.
Portrait of Penny by Katherine Magee (2010, oil on canvas)
My earliest, and the principle artistic influence in my life was my mother, who is a wonderful oil painter. I grew up on the smell of oil paint and by default not only learnt skills, but developed a love and appreciation for the arts.
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (1889, oil on canvas)
My favourite artist ever by a million miles, although not a very original choice, is the legendary Vincent van Gogh. This man fought so many personal battles in his life yet he produced so many joyful, vibrant works of art. He gets my vote for everything – his colour pallet, impasto technique, themes, compositions, illustrative style… just everything. When I study his work it gives me an immediate desire to create ,and very few artists have that effect on me.
A few years ago I travelled to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to view a special exhibition of his evening works which was absolutely incredible and I got to feast my eyes on this and many other works in the flesh.
Hockney is Britain’s most celebrated living artist, he is a painter, printmaker, stage designer and photographer but he has really put iPad art on the map too, which is very interesting to me. He was is one of the earliest adopters of this modern medium despite his age (he is in his late 70s) and I greatly admire his avant-garde approach to all his work. He is known for his bold vibrant colours and landscapes and has exhibited his awesome paintings, including his iPad art prints, in exhibitions worldwide – the most notable exhibition being A Bigger Picture, in the Royal Academy of Arts in 2012.
This is a photo of one of David Hockney’s standing in front of some of his iPad prints at this exhibition. These were part of his Arrival of Spring Series. I find his work inspiring, and if you haven’t heard of Hockney before, look him up and be inspired.
The Personal Favourites…
Greystones Harbour by Helen Magee (2008, oil on canvas)
I have dug out a photo or two of some of my oil paintings. My favourite way of producing oil paintings is to use a pallet knife. I love working impasto and lashing loads of paint on the canvas, mixing paint on the canvas, and seeing clearly the texture of the paint in relief. It’s tricky to produce detailed work like faces or delicate features with a pallet knife, but that’s never stopped me trying! This is a large commission piece I did of a panorama of the old Greystones harbour and although the photograph is poor, it’s a painting I’m very proud of.
Cap Ferrat by Helen Magee (2009, oil on canvas)
I painted this picture of David Niven’s house in Cap Ferrat in France and it is hanging in my home – not so much because I think it’s really my best work, but because Cap Ferrat is my favourite place in the world, where I honeymooned, and also spent many happy holidays over the years with my family.
Daisy I (2013, digital watercolour)
In the last two years I have plunged into a new artistic world and medium and have developed a passion for creating art and design for print. It all began with a Christmas present from my husband of an iPad – I wonder is it the biggest regret of his life! I have to say I was totally ignorant about digital art and never considered it as a medium to try out. It all happened by accident one night while watching TV; I got curious and downloaded an ‘art’ App, and with my finger on the iPad screen, I drew this Daisy.
It was such fun I was hooked and I said to myself… somebody might like to buy this! Call it ignorance, or naivety, but I had no idea how to take this daisy from the iPad screen and transform it into a quality piece of art on a wall. It was a learning curve for a traditional oil painter like me. After a bit of research and help from some great local people like Cherry Lane Gallery & Fine Arts, I got myself producing prints of my work. And so it goes that Hairy Fruit Art was born – art, illustration and design for print. I produce limited edition print collections and have a passion for all things pretty, vibrant and whimsy. A lot of my personality comes through in my work. I now have an insatiable desire to put my digital hairy fruit art ‘on things’, and am working on producing other products with my designs in the future.
True artists of any discipline are created to create and are happiest when they are using that God-given creative side of their brain. I feel so lucky to have been born creative; it is a great gift to have and I feel blessed. I don’t want to go to deep into this but someone once asked me how I felt when I took a step back and looked at a finished piece that I was really happy with. My answer was something like this… For me, creating a nice piece of art is similar to the joy of giving birth; the process can be intense and hard work, but the end result is hugely gratifying and joyful. You are left with something personally unique, something that you love and feel proud of, and something you can continue to enjoy and admire every day. No offence to my two children – they know that they are my most priceless creations!
You can check out Helen’s kitchen range here, the groovy La Touche Hotel print here, and how Ed Sheeran found his Galway Girl with a little help from Hairy Fruit right here.