Saturday, 16 June 2012

I'm moving!

I'm moving my blog to a new location, the new address will be

The idea is that my blog will become part of a website about my work and it will contain more information, photographs and slideshows. Hopefully you will find it interesting and easy to use.

Thanks to you all for your support so far - I hope you will like the changes I have made. 

See you soon with my next post on my brand new blog... I should be up and running in the next few days so watch this space!


I have moved most of my subscribers over to the new blog with your permission but I was unable to find a contact email for all of you so I invite you to sign up to the new one if you'd like to continue following..

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Summer Evening at Streamstown Graveyard

I went for a drive yesterday evening towards Claddagduff, north of Clifden and stopped at this graveyard on the way. It is situated on the side of a hill beside the road and looking out to sea at the mouth of Streamstown Bay. You can enter the graveyard through sturdy metal gates or by stepping over a traditional step style in the wall (below) as I chose to do.

This is the view on the other side of the wall (below). This graveyard is still in use and is an interesting mixture of ancient, weather beaten stone remnants and modern headstones.

These next two photos show the view moving West as the bay wanders out to the Atlantic. The smooth edges of this grey headstone (below) stand erect among the scattered stone blocks whose carved linkage with the past ( if there once was any? ) has long since been eroded.

As the evening drew on, the shadows grew longer (below). I read what I could of the modern stones and found familiar local names - King, Coyne and Casey.

I left wondering if the beauty of a place such as this makes any difference. I think that perhaps it does - as a better final prospect for the living, compared with some anonymous square field and for those left behind who might draw some kind of peace from such a setting.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Landscape - Dark Pool

This is a landscape on canvas (5" x 7") that I have just finished. It is based on an area between Clifden and Roundstone known as the 'Bog Road' which offers impressive views of the 'Twelve Bens' mountain range.

The photograph below shows the painting after the first sitting. I have used quite a lot of acrylic paint and ink to get it to this stage. The pool in the centre is the main focus of this one as you can see.

Here it is from a different angle - I've brought the painting around the edges of the canvas (below).

I wanted to make the piece darker in terms of colour and mood when I came back to the painting. These bog pools have a bottomless watery darkness about them that I am trying to convey here. I got it to this stage (below) but now I am not happy with the sky or the mountains in the background.

I returned to the piece when the paint had dried and attempted the background again. I decided to introduce some reds and purples to the mountain range as there is too much blue in the piece above. Here is the painting as I have left it (below).

In an effort to create more drama and movement, I allowed the grasses and water to spill over the front side of the canvas (below).

I am happier with the piece now and I think that the red mountain range is an improvement. I hope that I have managed to create this dark mood I am looking for. What do you think?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Painting - Oughterard landscape II

This is another landscape based on the same area as the last one from Oughterard. I enjoyed using this lighter palette of colours and wanted to use them again.

This is the initial sketch (below) made in charcoal on a heavy weight acrylic paper.

Here it is (below) after the first application of colour. I like it's freshness at this stage and I lose this a bit as I try to give the piece more depth. I really enjoy working with the wet paint and ink like this and look out for any happy accidents as the two meet.

This is the painting as I have left it (below). I have added more brown to convey the bog furrows underneath the heath and the grasses. I reduced the red a little but left a streak of it visible which I think gives it some direction and focus.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Painting - Landscape near Oughterard

This landscape is based on a place near Oughterard, County Galway not far from the Bog I painted recently. It is also a bog but unworked for some time and now covered in a layer of grasses and heathers. Here's a photo I took of the area and below that the painting as it began - a rough sketch in charcoal.

This is the next stage - I blocked in some areas of colour loosely with a wide brush. I decided to use green and pale pink which is what I see/remember when I squint my eyes. I'm also thinking about this combination of colour as I saw it while taking photographs of some wild flowers near my home ( see 'Wild Fuchsia and Nature's Colours' ).

This is the next stage (below). I took this photo just after I added the green ink to the pink acrylic paint and it has bubbled as it has made contact with the paper! I want to add depth to the landscape here but also retain these broad strokes of pink as much as possible. I am trying to suggest the taller grasses with the pink and green mixture at the base of the painting but without doing it too literally.

This is the piece as I have left it (below). I added more paint to the mountain and lake in the background. I also gave the painting some more contrast with brown ink and just a little more red.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Conamara Bog Week Exhibition

I visited an art exhibition in the National Park in Letterfrack this week as part of the annual Bog week celebrations that are held here. This year, four artists were invited to contribute to a show with the theme of the Boglands in mind. The artists in question are all living locally so just as the exhibition champions the Bog week festival, it also recognises and salutes some of the artists who live and work in this area.
This year Bog week celebrates the work of Laura Cull, Gemma Coyne, Jay Murphy and Bernie Dignam.

Bernie Dignam is a textile artist and printmaker whose tapestries and woven batik and silk hangings resonate a long tradition and colourfully portray the subject.
Jay Murphy presents a variety of work for this show which includes some large paintings of old boats in mixed media as well as some small square landscapes on board in rich pastel hues.
Gemma Coyne has produced a series of photographs as well as a video installation. Her photography captures her placement of wood and felted objects in the natural landscape. All of these artists have paid homage to the theme in a sympathetic and creative way through their work but I have singled out the paintings of Laura Cull here as they resonated with me especially.
Here is an example of one of Laura's paintings below.

I love the sinuous lines and delicate colours of these. They are so strongly evocative of the Bog but in a light and ethereal way. They make me think of precious remains - perhaps those uncovered bog bodies or some ancient fabric belonging to an old chieftan.

Here are two more paintings below - similar textures but this time with vivid greens and browns.

These green paintings seem tangible and organic - perhaps some piece of ground observed under a microscope. They connect well with the blue shadowy paintings and bring diversity and depth to the collection of works on show. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and it continues over the holiday week end until June 4th. Go see if you can!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Summer's here!

We have been enjoying some exceptionally fine weather here in Connemara. Temperatures reached the mid 20's and higher last week which is rare for this (or any?) time of year here.
One sign of Summer's arrival is the appearance of the Summer wild flowers and they seem (to me) to have sprung over night - clover, buttercups, pink grass heads and marguerites, my favourite of all.
Here's a photo of a clover head, such a lovely colour - somewhere between crimson, pink and purple.

I love the feathery summer grasses, the smell of them, the rustling sound of them and when you look closely, their delicate colours. Here's an example and below that a couple of seed heads.

Finally, I've included some pictures of the Marguerite, one of my all time favourite wild flowers. Their name makes them human - my daughters affectionately call them 'Big Daisies'. There is a lovely field of these flowers beside the local National school but unfortunately for me, behind a high fence ( photo below taken through the fence ). I resisted an urge to climb in to the field, deciding not to risk injury to myself or my dignity and the possibility of creating a spectacle in view of my daughter's teachers!

These close ups (below) were taken a few metres away at the roadside which is dotted with these perfect flowers at the moment. Long live Summer!