A gift of art is the gift that keeps on giving

‘When we buy from local crafts people we keep our money in the community, where it gets put back into other local businesses’

Michelle Duffy: (€250)

Whether they live in a mansion or maisonette, most people have somewhere to hang a beautiful piece of art – and as the pandemic had such a negative impact on those in the creative sector, now is the time to support Irish artists while purchasing a painting or drawing which will be the gift that keeps on giving.

We spoke to five artists from around the country to find out what sort of work they produce, where they get their ideas from and why it is important for us all to support home-grown artists.


Mel White lives between Dublin and Clare, and as a keen traveller her work is inspired by places she has seen and events she has experienced.


“I consider myself as a pop artist but some of my works go in the direction of figurative abstract. I use real life photographic situations taken on my travels as inspiration and exaggerate them in an animated form with vivid colours, trying to highlight the controversiality from a particular place or region.

My original paintings start at €270 and go up to €2,800 for large scale, and I offer commissions from €680 and will paint on pretty much any surface – including skateboard decks, walls and clothes.

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Rob Stears works as a full-time artist and illustrator from his home studio in Dublin 15. He describes his style as "fun and cartoonish" and gets his inspiration from the world around him.

“I work digitally, sketching a piece out first before completing it using clean lines. There is usually a joke or visual gag in there so when I’m trying to get a joke across it’s often best if the image isn’t too busy. Other times I like to create something more complicated with lots of tiny details so the viewer can keep coming back to see something new.

Despite 2020 being a very challenging year, one huge positive to come out of it was the fact that people made every effort to support Irish artists and designers when it came to shopping online during lockdown.

“When we buy from local crafts people we keep our money in the community where it gets put back into other local businesses, which is so important as we saw so many small businesses close their doors and if it weren’t for public support we could have seen a lot more closures.”

Prints range from €10 to €50. Custom illustrations from €150

Instagram @robstears ">www.robstears.ie Instagram @robstears


Aoife Dowd is originally from Carna, Connemara, but lives in Oughterard, Co Galway. She works as an art teacher in Scoil Phobail Mhic Dara secondary school and paints in her spare time. Her inspiration comes from her surroundings, and she believes art is not only at the heart of our identity as a nation but supporting the sector will benefit the country as a whole.

“My artwork would probably be described as vibrant and impressionistic. I paint mostly landscapes in oil and like to use strong and bright colours as I love the energy they convey.

Inspiration for my paintings come from my surroundings and the ever-changing moods, colours, light and vibrancy. I hope to capture more than just a scene in my work and to draw the viewer in through a vibrant use of colour and textures as I want to create a sense of wonder, spirit and curiosity.

Rob Stears: Santa on a roof Christmas card (€3.20, Etsy)

I believe that Irish artists and crafts people are a fundamental part of our culture and identity as they inspire and connect people regardless of ethnicity, religion or age. And Irish art can help drive the economy through tourism, local shops, galleries, and visitor centres. So it is very important to support and promote the arts which have always played an integral role in our rich cultural heritage.

At present, my paintings range from about €300 - €900 depending on size and medium. I also sell fine art prints of most of my paintings from my website, starting at €85 for an A3-size mounted print.”

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Mel White: Dub & Proud, prints start at €50, and the original is €2,500


Michelle Duffy lives in Garrison, Co Fermanagh, works mostly with acrylics, and she also "dabbles" in watercolour and mixed media pieces.

“I’m lucky to be able to work around the kids and their busy schedules, and have a borderline obsession with sunsets and water-based scenes. My style is realism and I generally paint from photos I take from my travels around the country. My inspiration comes from sunsets and lake-based scenes as Fermanagh has many lakes and rivers to explore and I’m lucky to also live quite close to the Donegal/Sligo coastlines so the west coast offers the perfect place to absorb the many stunning sunsets all year round. I have gallery space in Garrison, so I do try to paint as often as I can.

“There is an absolutely fantastic Irish arts scene with so many talented people capturing the landscape in their own unique way. And I always love meeting other artists and creative folk who appreciate the beauty, which is all around us, and how we can share this gift with others.

"My paintings start from around €95 for around A4 size. And you can find me at my studio on the Main Street in Garrison or on Facebook Instagram Twitter and linked In at Camlake Canvas."

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Gerard Byrne lives in Dublin 6 and has been painting for three decades. He says his oil painting is "distinctive for its vibrant palette, expressive brushwork and focus on contrasts of light and shade" which is why he is regarded as a contemporary impressionist.

“I can often be found setting up my easel to capture urban street scenes in Dublin city or seascapes along south Co Dublin coastline.

Gerard Byrne: deep turquoise Dalkey Island, (€9,000)

"I'm inspired by my close surroundings as for me painting is about revealing the beauty hidden in the everyday. I'm especially drawn to period architecture and nature, and the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin have been a source of inspiration to me for years, as have my travels abroad. In 2019 I accepted an invitation to become the artist-in-residence at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

My oil paintings range from €2,000–€25,000 for the large-scale pieces, with the majority in the €8,000 to €10,000 region. My charcoal sketches range from €2,000–€10,000, with the majority of artworks around €4,000 to €5,000. Limited edition range from €350–€700.”

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