A Printmaker in Lockdown: Frank Kiely RE



"I have a daily sketching practice that I post on social media. It began when on a visit to Dublin witnessing my nieces constantly taking selfies of themselves and uploading them online. I thought it was excellent that young people were being creative and making visual images that they were sharing with their friends. I did think it was a bit repetitive as it looked like they photographed the same side-angle-pouting-face every time. I thought it would be amazing if people started to do daily sketches and post them online instead so I decided to draw a selfie every day and post it on social media for a month. That was in 2015 and I have continued posting a sketch everyday since.



These daily sketches have continued.  In 2017 I decided to produce them in watercolour using a brush, in 2018 I continued this but made it harder by having to paint directly from life. Since 2019 I have been drawing with pen or a marker.

I've sketched random people out in public, photographed friends from which I produced sketches and occasionally used images from the Media. This project was not about getting a likeness, I was interested in the marks I could make by using a black marker pen only. I did  not overthink the image, it was to be a quick, spontaneous image drawing in anything from 5 mins to about a maximum of 1 hour.




When lockdown was imposed in March, I was unable to sketch people I saw out and about. People became worried and paranoid because of the pandemic so I did not think it wise to even try.  I decided to turn to social media and sent out a call on Instagram and twitter for people to send me selfies. They did not come flooding in. It was hard to get photos at first so I used faces I found in the background of old photos. There were a few occasions when i had nothing to work from so I turned to drawing from photos of relatives and friends who had passed away. But in time I got a great response for people from many parts of the world. It just took me to contact them directly and from the help from some good friends who encouraged people they know to send photos. Thank you to everyone who has sent me photos to keep the project going. I hope you enjoy the selection of sketches presented in the Printmakers in Lockdown show at Bankside Gallery. The project is still running and I still face the challenges of getting new people to draw every day."



Born in Ireland in 1974, Frank Kiely studied at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, The National College of Art & Design, Dublin and The Royal College of Art, London.

Painting, printmaking and drawing are Kiely's main forms of expression. He paints in acrylic and watercolour and is well known for his large scale screenprints, digital media and etchings.

Kiely has had many solo exhibitions in Britain and Ireland.


See @frankkiely on Instagram for all his sketches