Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rush artist Jo's work marked by strong colours

Rush artist Jo Cummins has been painting full time for the past seven years after giving up her job in advertising to pursue her life-long passion.

Now she is showcasing some her new work in an solo exhibition this month for the Centre for Creative Practices.

Jo, who has just finished a joint exhibition with Monaghan artist Roisin Duffy at the Grange Gallery in Ballyboughal entitled 'People and Places', was approached by the arts centre a year ago to produce a solo show, having made a name for herself from her modern and unique paintings.

'I was asked last year to produce a solo show for CCP and obviously was delighted to get the opportunity to do a show by myself,' she says.

The month-long exhibition, entitled 'Observations in Colour', she says is a culmination of a year's work with an eclectic and interesting mix of themes.

'When they asked me to do it I didn't have a certain theme in my head that I was doing so I decided to do a mix of work. I painted whatever took my fancy, anything from political matters and subjects to just plain observations that I made.'

One of her paintings on display, called 'Moore Street' is a depiction of one of Ireland's most famous and historic streets, which has come under much scrutiny recently. The self-titled piece shows a very regular and everyday scene that the street has become known for, its fruit stalls and the colourful and lively vendors that occupy it.

'With all the recent controversy about the street, everyone has been saying how much the street has changed and how different it is compared to years ago. But to me I still see the same street as was there before doing the same thing. I still see all the fruit stalls and their friendly vendors and that's what I wanted to depict.'

The painting like the rest of the collection shows her love and fascination with colour. Much of Jo's paintings are acrylic based with strong bold colours throughout. She describes her work as a celebration of colour.

'I just love colour, particularly really bright strong colours. I think its very important. When I am painting I try to remove as much detail as possible from any scene so that the colour pops out as much as possible and then use vibrant colour and strong black lines.'

On her inspiration for her paintings she says she has one special place that always manages to get her artistic juices flowing.

'My favourite place to paint is the Paphos region in Cyprus with their fabulous blue skies which never cease to inspire me. I try to get over when ever I can. The colours there are just amazing and are unlike any I have ever seen anywhere else.'

'I also love the colours of the Irish coast and countryside where there is a depth of richness and tone not found anywhere else.'

She counts Picasso as one of her inspirations and all-time favourite artists and painters. Irish artist Ann Madden's work is also top of her list, describing her work as 'amazing and beautiful'.

Jo, who grew up in Dublin, began her love affair with the arts at a very young age and although she went on to study art at college it wasn't until much later, when she had her own family reared, that she decided to take the plunge and become a full time painter and make it a career.

'I've always loved to paint and always have painted but I have only began working full time as a painter seven years ago. I think its just in built in me. I just decided to do it. My family was basically reared, one of my children was off to college and the other was in secondary school so I though it was a good time to take the leap,' she says.

'I now have my own studio at home and love it. My family have been very supportive of my choice.'

However like many people around the country, the recent downward turn of the economy has had a big effect on business.She admits that it has been tough at times but continues to persevere through it.

'You get your good times and your bad times but it has been quite quiet since the recession, although I have been very lucky. I do a lot of exhibitions like Merrion Street and St Stephen's Green, which has let me build up a client base. People can come to me to me to commission pieces so that has helped a little, but I just continue to paint.'

Growing up she admits her family were not very artistic but were extremely supportive and always encouraged her. As a child, Jo's parents encouraged her to explore her passion after seeing her talent and interest in the arts from a very young age.

'No one else was very artistic, just me., but they saw how interested I was in it and how much I loved to paint so they encouraged me to explore it.'

Jo went on to study art for three years at the College of Marketing and Design (now a DIT) and began to work extensively throughout the creative profession. She worked in an advertising company as a graphic designer and illustrator and also did freelance work for newspapers before becoming a full time painter.

Jo's exhibition 'Observation in Colour' will open in the Centre for Creative Practices on Lower Pembroke Street on September 5 from 6pm till 9pm and will run until September 30. Entry is free. For more information on Jo and her work check out her website at

Fingal Independent

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