Paintings in The ART Approach

The ART Approach is a technique in dentistry that uses simple tools and materials to repair teeth quickly, and I spent three years of my PhD researching new materials for it. ART stands for Atraumatic Restorative Technique, and the coincidence in the name was too good to pass up, so I decided to apply the ART approach to art – smaller paintings and simpler materials, but hopefully just as beautiful and interesting.

Once a week, every week, for most of a year I added a new painting, with subjects ranging from fairly traditional landscapes and abstracts to some things straight out of the research lab. The result is an interesting collection of paintings full of experiments and surprises; not many painters can use an electron microscope to look for inspiration so there’s sure to be something you haven’t seen before!

abstract acrylic painting of crystallisation

Wet precipitation is the process that gives us stalactites and stalagmites, teeth, and many other interesting things. Dissolve the right ingredients in water (wet), mix them together in the right way, and all kinds of solids can form out of the liquid (precipitation). I use it all the time to make nanocrystals like the ones in our teeth, and many other people use it for many other things, but exactly how atoms go from bouncing around a liquid to lining up neatly in a crystal is not entirely understood. In my head it looks like this.

Wet Precipitation 1

acrylic landscape painting of dusty valley in bright sunlight


Wicklow, the garden of Ireland. Rich farmland, rolling green hills, tree-lined rivers…and the odd dusty valley that would convince you you’re in the wild west when the sun is blazing down on it. I asked the man with no name to sign it for me but….


Gare Benedictins

acrylic painting of gare benedictins limoges


This time last month I was in Limoges, in central France, for the 13th conference of the European Ceramic Society. The conference includes a presentation competition for young researchers, and I was lucky enough to represent Ireland in it. As well as meeting some clever people and learning a few things, I had a chance to explore the town a bit. Gare Benedictins is the central train station, a beautiful building at any time but all the better when the sky gets dramatic behind it.

abstract acrylic painting

The surface of our teeth is made of a hierarchical structure of very small and very organised crystals. Individual atoms are organised into 50-nanometre-wide crystal rods, which are organised into 4 micrometre wide prisms, which are organised into overlapping layers that make your teeth hard enough and tough enough to last a lifetime. It’s an amazing material and a lot of my research is about trying to copy it. Rather than waste any more words trying to explain, here’s a video that does a much better job!

Zoom in to a Tooth


red-acrylic painting of red clouds in sunset

I had planned something with a bit of science in it for the opening, but the weather we have at the moment deserves a painting I think. So here’s a nice bit of a sunset.

Remember, each painting in The ART Approach is for sale for one week only. Find it on eBay