Art Diaries

“I like to use my paintings as a mathematician uses his blackboard” – Stephen Nolan

A little Statement about the Two Larger Green Paintings that I have been painting for most of the last year….

Well what exactly are these two larger green paintings in the greater scheme of all things other than a pair of large scale oil paintings that are predominately green…. beyond that I am not really qualified to say what they are, I mean: I don’t even know where they will end up come the end of the year? and what on earth will they do whenever they get to where they are going? But beyond me not wanting to see them thrown in a skip, is it really any concern of mine where they end up and what other people think when they look at them??

Because for me at that stage the paintings will have served their main purpose, I like to use my paintings as a mathematician uses his blackboard… they are a 2 dimensional space, a true blank canvas if you will, where I can think things through. To put it another way, I like to spend my time in the company of my paintings thinking about things of no importance to anyone but myself; my vain hope being that at some point during the day I will have come to some sort of understanding, however fleeting, where a myriad of diverse thoughts coalesce to make some sense of it all; and that maybe as a byproduct of this process I will have depicted in paint something more permanent of this brief moment of clarity before it dissipates all too quickly back to from whence it came – even if it is rarely the case that anything of interest sticks this wee lie is just a little something I like to tell myself as a way to get through my more insecure mornings in the studio.

In a way it is possible to draw some parallels between these paintings and a second year history student’s third rate essay on some documentary that they have recently seen on BBC4, they certainly can be compared to documents of some sort, attesting to what little I understand of the world around me. I was always inquisitive about how the world works and I like to read history and formulate in my mind the nature of things – whilst happily jumping to wild conclusions about how and why things came about to be as they are. But a natural laziness combined with the inconvenient truth that I am a shockingly poor essayist [see enclosing text as case in point] conspire to rob me of a convenient outlet with which to communicate my ideas, but from a young age I have found painting an enjoyable if somewhat convoluted way of expressing thoughts out into the world and ergo I paint…

Because at the end of the day ‘paintings’ is what they are…. all of the preceding drivel simply describes some of the crutches that I use in the hope that maybe they will act as an aid in creating a more interesting piece.. but a wise man once told me that it is impossible to paint a picture about nothing, because even to try is to make a decision, and any paintings that result of this choice will be either interesting or unsuccessful. For me, I have always enjoyed using paint… I enjoy the making of things and I like to create things that have a look and feel of weight and quality, even if I am alone in thinking them beautiful, but it is something that goes back to my earliest days on this earth and I suppose it will be with me for some years to come. It is my own personal way of communicating, even if I sometimes find it hard to understand what exactly it is I am trying to say.

“New Ross Municipal Town Plan” – by Stephen Nolan

“Nolan Wexford Harbour Admiralty Chart” – by Stephen Nolan

“Hook Head Lighthouse” by Stephen Nolan

Words and Art: Stephen Nolan

Article Commissioned by: Rebecca Nickolls @becknickolls @artistscribbles

Support the artist and see more of Stephen Nolan’s work here:



Twitter: @Stephen_if

2 replies »

  1. I care for Stephen Nolan’s paintings very much. They provide purchase–in a climber’s sense, and in the way a large animal finds temporary grip on an icy road, or as an endangered species searches for a place to be at home (where it will do its own work, as all living things are free to do [is it an ideal of art only?]). So few, in their time, feel they needn’t be in a rush about the limits of time. To figure things out, without the destination in mind, may well provide example through which a mindful meditation begins to communicate with the exertion which requires results but in whose atoms one moment after the other is like one foot in front of the other. The beauty of what’s left (“nothing”?) is striking in its scores and scratches, in languid entrails left from curves emboldened by washes; something like presence, remarkable transferable and thin–definitive and thicker as we move back and forth from soil to bone–presence. If I could have a map of my intimate and public life, I would want it to be one resembling Stephen Nolan’s. –Peter Money, Vermont


  2. The language/text doesn’t add anything to the mark making of the images which I appreciate; the colours refer to the earth and landscape of Ireland – map-making? A guide, a journey. An emotional connection for me. Well done and good luck for the work ahead.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s