CAFÉ No.47, Donaghmore recently hosted it's first ever two day painting workshop with local artist Stephen Gallagher.
Although he spends most of his time in Australia, Stephen returned to Donaghmore early last year fuelled by a passion to share his love for Canine Portraiture amongst his own local people.
It was while living in New Zealand a number of years ago he received the sad news that the family dog Ozzie had passed away. Being an artist he decided that the best way to keep his memory alive would be to paint a portrait of his beloved pet. Once posted online, other people requested portraits of their own dogs.
This has led Stephen to create specially commissioned works for clients all over the world including Canada, North America, Ireland, Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia.
His most publicly recognised success came in June 2017 in Australia with his first solo show 'A Portrait: 100 Brisbane Rescues' where Stephen set himself the challenge to paint 100 different types of canines as a way to raise awareness and help promote dog adoption.
The exhibition also toured throughout Brisbane in September and November. The project attracted national TV and press including a prime time appearance on 'The Project' on Australia's Channel 10. Another exhibit is due to launch in Brisbane later this year.
Stephen's work employs the 'alla prima' technique also known as the direct method, bringing a fresh and alive aesthetic to his paintings. It was taught to him by award winning Iranian born artist Mehrdad Tahan whilst living in New Zealand.
The technique has been practiced since the creation of oil painting by famous historical artists such as Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent and Vincent Van Gogh.
Since returning home he has displayed his work locally as part of a group of Mid-Ulster based artists in an exhibition called 'The Village Art Gallery' in Donaghmore. Stephen participated in this twice last year in May and December 2018.
His workshop at Café No.47 has been kept intimate so that he can give his personal time and focus to each individual student as he is the first to recognise it may be someones first time to pick up a paint brush.
Ultimately however he wants to share his love of art and for dogs by providing other people the opportunity to capture their own pets on canvas.
Lorna from Co Down, who attended the workshop spoke of her enjoyment: “I found everyone so friendly firstly. Stephen is so great at getting across his method. He's good and clear with his communication. I found it very relaxing and an enlightening experience.
“Also I enjoyed the delicious treats that Rachel at Café No. 47 offered us, it's a wonderful setting with a great ambience.”
Speaking after the latest workshop, Stephen said: “It's been incredibly rewarding for me to be able to share my technique whilst experiencing how other people are enjoying the creative process of bringing their pets to life.
“I've been amazed at how people have interpreted my technique in such a way that they bring their own personalities to canvas. Ultimately art is about self-expression and these people have achieved this fully in such a short space of time.”
Following a successful debut this past weekend a second weekend workshop has already sold out for next month.