Simply put, I returned to full-time oil painting in January 2017 and after a year of painting, I had painted 50 paintings of Joyce or 'En Plein Air' paintings of Dublin which included my best work to date. So what to do with all these artworks? Open a gallery!
Captivated by something new, Nowlan wants to bring colour to the B&W Joyce. Creating colourful oil portraits based on James Joyce's black and white photographs from the early to mid-twentieth century era. These B&W photographs from old film cameras “excite my imagination, what was his life like?" David. Nowlan was intrigued by the monochromatic depictions of Joyce; how they failed to reflect a man that the world has experienced through his writings which are awash, aflame with image, colour and rich textures. A man who has been instrumental in revolutionizing literature and our perceptions of the world. Joyce's writings are spectacular, the words and language expressed and Nowlan wants to explode the colour of his writings onto the canvas.
In each contemporary impasto portrait, woozy colors and aggressively sculpted surfaces appear from the canvases as if ready to walk off them. This work has a convergence of interrelated art genres of contemporary representational, impressionistic and realism. The artist shares a desire to add colour in exaggeration of artistic constraints, to create something new.
David said. Every year in Dublin on that date Dubliners celebrate ‘Ulysses’ one of James Joyce's books. So this Irish artist needed to be painted in colour. James Joyce is remembered in photography mostly B&W portraits from the early twentieth century. This man's writings were incredibly colourful, now his portraits will reflect this.
Nowlan vision is the opposite of what a camera does. A photograph tends to flatten an image, reducing all relationships of color and shade to a stiff mechanical pattern. His skills lie in his ability to probe in and around his subject. With a highly sensitive eye, he sees nuances of value and hue that the camera and most people can never see. More incredibly, he is able to translate his highly nuanced vision into a painted image. He paints surprisingly loose, painterly manner-something I never would have expected. He makes initial marks to find the scale and proportions of his subject. Then he applies a broad underpainting of colour to capture the desired hue and value. At this stage his paintings look almost abstract, consisting of a pattern of large colour shapes.
Nowlan’s characteristic brushwork of large strokes of different colours means by this phrase is that Nowlan applies paint in broad, loose facets, often leaving areas of bare canvas in between. In subsequent additions the open areas are gradually filled in, creating a breathing lattice-like structure of paint. The magic occurs in the finish.
A versatile painter and his artistic output includes cityscapes, landscapes and still life’s, but he feels compelled to paint the most classical of artistic subjects: the human figure and now moving onto Joyce.
“Joyce was born less than 1.8 miles from where I grew up...
and we were nearing Bloomsday, 16th June,”