HSE heroes and the next chapter.

Whats been happening over the last few months? Silly question I know. From gardening to painting HSE heroes.

Time is flying by. I can’t believe its been July since my last blog post. I really do need to get better at this.

This day last year we were off on our incredible trip to China, we had no idea what was to come next. Here we are in lockdown bounce around.

Lockdown, well to be one of the lucky ones, I spent most of it in the garden tending to the flower beds, resurrecting the greenhouse and in doing so nurturing the soul there was also some art done during Covid.

Although at first, it was difficult to gather the where with all to step into a creative zone. However, one brilliant initiative came onto my radar. It was set up by Tom Croft, a wonderful artist in the U.K. #PortraitsforNHS heroes was born. The simple but powerful idea was to offer a portrait for an NHS hero, free of charge, either nominated by a loved one or by the worker themselves. Tom asked if other artists wanted to get involved and my goodness they did. It grew legs. You see, I think kindness and gratitude grew these legs and to be an artist I knew it was a wonderful way for me to acknowledge and thank those in the front line.

Heres what Tom says on his website about the inspiration in setting up this initiative,

“So I thought about it. What is the point of a portrait? It is an artistic representation of somebody, in my case a painting or drawing. Ideally with a good physical likeness. Then if it’s a good portrait it can go deeper below the surface and say more than just a snapshot. Done well it can be a more considered overview of them as a person and give a sense of the essence of who they really are. Character and personality can all be captured or referenced in a successful portrait. No selfie, no filters and often not smiling. In the past portraits have been seen as a status symbol, or produced to celebrate someone, mark some significant achievements, milestones and potentially to elevate that person in the eyes of others.

It also immortalises people, as the portraits are likely to live far longer than the subjects.

So who should be immortalised today? Who should line the walls of galleries and have future generations look back on as the people who really made a difference and stepped up, in our latest darkest hour. The people who put self interest and self preservation to one side and literally risked their lives knowingly on a daily basis for our well being. The NHS workers. Absolutely.” Tom Croft 2020

I contacted Tom and asked his permission, as you do, for me to give it some legs and adapt the #PortraitsforHSEheroes for our HSE heroes,Tom was delighted and so many incredible artists got involved. It was such a nice way to spend some time during lockdown to distract myself in doing something for others.

Tom has gone on to develop an online exhibition and a book. So needless to say myself and Tom have been chatting and we think Ireland and the HSE should have similar. So plans are hatching for an online exhibition for Portraits for HSE heroes, watch this space.

More to follow on that.

Other news.

Other news, my exhibition in GOMA Waterford was wonderful, they treated me so well. Its a wonderful little gallery and super staff. You can go to my website and  view the Catalogue . A little gem in Waterford city. I have a body of work bursting through the studio walls, so I am open to exhibition opportunities, studio visits and online sales , cheeky! no reality. Check out my website for new work.

The opera festival is at a very reduced capacity this year, all online. Therefore the town which is normally buzzing for the festival is quiet. However, go check out some artists online and support them if you can. They really appreciate it.

In the meantime, stay safe, play safe and above all be kind to yourself,


In the studio.
In the studio. oil on canvas




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Storm Francis, I hear ya.

While storm Francis is playing with the construction of the studio roof. I am in the studio feeling inspired to keep the coffee going, the music on and not step back out until it stops sounding like the Wizard of Oz outside.

Arrived into the studio, coffee on and opened the laptop. Or should I say the black hole?  Admin if it could only be done with a paintbrush, it would be more enjoyable.

My exhibition is running at GOMA, Gallery of Modern Art, Waterford until 27th September. Its getting great numbers and some nice reviews. I will be doing an artist talk this Saturday at 1 pm, booking is essential due to restrictions. To book your bum on a seat go to https//tiny.cc/Bernadettedoolantalk  

I am delighted with the response to the exhibition both the footfall and how the work looks in such a great space, I’m delighted too for the gallery so do visit and support them if you can. In these strange times, we got to get creative and that has been demonstrated last weekend at Wexford Arts Centre with a couple renewing their wedding vows at a Pierce Turner gig.

Finally, I have got some catalogues to view https://bernadettedoolan.com/catalogue/ you can view as a turning book which I like but if you are like my husband who prefers the pdf. Let me give him a shout out as he is responsible for the website design etc with his team at TwoHeads.ie

I’m off now to finish online applications and take a look at some artists work that inspires me. Or make me ask the question, how? Jenny Saville being one.

Continue to get in touch with any queries.

Have a great Tuesday,




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The House That Built Me

It has been a very strange few months. The uncertainty, the unknown.

However, when I went into the studio all was good. It was great to finally hear that my solo exhibition was going ahead, even if a few months later. Here we are now, the day before the opening. I do hope you can make it to see what I have been up to these last few months.

The title seems very apt considering we were all staying at home.

The House That Built Me  looks to express where we have come from. The snapshots of being a child and how we respond to life events and in this way how it moulds who we are today. I came across the tagline from Barnardos, ‘Childhood lasts a lifetime’ it really does. I delve into aspects of my growing up, the house, the people the memories that built me. I feel it leaves a space for the viewer to resonate with their recollecton of childhood.

As acclaimed realist painter Bo Bartlett discusses his philosophy and art through the belief that your root feeds your crown. Theres no denying your past, no point living in it either. You can however reflect on it and how it has made you into the person you are today.

Singer/songwriter Miranda Lambert encompasses this perfectly in her song The house that built me,

‘If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory, From the house that, built me.’

Exhibition runs until September 26th.

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I am not worthy.

I am not worthy.

Limerick Museum, 4th – 28th February 2020.

A collection of paintings depicting aspects of childhood viewed through an adult’s reflection.  Through the process of reflection, I became aware of the power of words and suggestions when I was a child. It is said that children are like sponges, they absorb their environment and those in it.  The child always listening, captivated by every word, influenced by the power of suggestion.” I am not worthy” struck a particular chord with me, when I heard the mantra coming from my lips, after years of repetition. But one day I really heard the words that I had repeated without question.

This body of work is not about questioning anyone religion or beliefs, but more to do with how powerful words can be.  I did not like to be told I was not worthy, what if as children we are empowered by words that prompt us to love ourselves, believe in ourselves, be kind to ourselves.

I aim to capture the vulnerability and the strength that children have in abundance.  This is achieved through exploring the fragility of the child’s mind and the power mantras have on them. These mantras passed on in most part,  innocently from parents, school, church. We hear it, we believe it, we don’t but question it.

For me, I felt at an early age reciting prayers in school to be somewhat uncomfortable. I heard each line I was saying but some words felt very uncomfortable to get off the end of my tongue. “I am not worthy” was not an easy one.

It was not that I was brimming with confidence, it just didn’t sit with me, perhaps I was fearful that it might be true. Maybe I felt unworthy, who knows. All the more reason not to have a mantra that crushes you every time. I am not saying everybody felt the same, but I suppose I was never asked. Instead in church, I would lower my head and mumble a sound, believing that I could not lie I had to be in my truth.

It took me into my adulthood to realise that the power of the word on us at an early age can be damaging. In my work, the portraits depict this vulnerability that separates us from the crowd, that quietens our spirit, but only for a short time if we are lucky. We can tap into our strength, our feisty childish warrior to question these mantras that don’t fit with us. That our gut feeling is telling us that this does not feel right, to trust this gut.

The advantage of being an expert in childhood means we can remember what it means to be funny, carefree. This is how we developed our resilience by climbing trees and falling. How we fell down, dusted ourselves off and tried again. There were no failures just “That didn’t work this time, what can I do differently next time”. As adults we tend to be in our “adult” head, afraid to fail. Not trying, maybe because we believe we’re not good enough.

For the day that’s in it, Happy Valentine’s day. Be kind to yourself first and foremost, listen to the mantra you are telling yourself, does it fit?



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CHINA… Here we come

Exciting times ahead and delighted to be with a group of wonderful artists, heading to Hangzhou for an exhibition titled #youyi (friendship)
It has been good fun and lots of laughs already in the preparation. The works have already arrived in Hangzhou and we will follow soon.
Huge thanks Maurice Quillinan for curating and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and Culture Ireland also

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