Bog Cotton

I noticed a few strands of bog cotton while taking pictures out on the Bog Road. It usually appears later, around June so these were just a few sparse stands. Later it can be seen in gorgeous delicate swathes between the bog heathers.


Photo 1 of Bog Cotton



This is the single headed variety of bog cotton which likes damp ground but not ground which is completely water logged. There is a many headed form which grows in pools of water and draws up water through it’s stem. This variety uses its leaves which are long and rolled in to needles, to conserve water.


Photo 2 of Bog Cotton



I love it’s hairy delicateness and the way it swishes in the breeze. It holds a promise of Summer which is welcome as May has been unusually cold and wet so far..


Photo 3 of Bog Cotton

Bog Pool

Here is another photograph taken from the Bog Road, between Clifden and Roundstone. The road itself is like a ribbon of tarmac that bumps over the surface of the Bog ( top right of photograph ).
I’ve used the pool in the front of this picture as the inspiration for the painting below.


Photo of a Bog Pool



This piece is similar to one I finished recently but I’ve made the water a stronger feature in this one – I am going to do several more paintings about this area because there is much to work on. I’ve used straight lines to delineate the pool in the foreground where the cut earth has been flooded. I love this play between the uniform lines or human marks left by the bog cutting and the wildness of the place which ultimately takes over.


Painting of Bog Pool



I worked this in one sitting while paint and ink were wet. I really enjoy the way that these two materials interact with each other and I feel that they lend themselves well to this subject.

Bog Paintings Series


I’m working on a series of paintings of the bog at the moment. This is a photograph I took out on the Bog Road, between Clifden and Roundstone. I like the strong direction of the Bog furrows across the land. Also, the combination of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the distance with the water in the middle distance, make for a rich composition.


Photo of bog between Clifden and ROundstone



I’ve used all of these features in the painting below.  This one is done on a heavy weight acyrlic paper. I forgot to take a picture at the early stages so this is how it looks after quite a bit of work.



Painting of bog between Clifden and Roundstone



As you can see, I’ve deepened up the colours considerably ( these rusts and reds are truer later in the year ). I’ve also allowed the lake to bleed in to the bog, washing it away visually. I’ll come back to this one when the paint has dried but it doesn’t need too much more work.

New Bog Paintings

A supply of paint and canvas arrived in the post last week and so I began some new work enthusiastically with my fresh supplies. I have been thinking about some of my old paintings of the bog which I worked quite heavily with paint, something I haven’t done for a while. I decided therefore to apply as much colour as possible at the first sitting and try to build up several layers.
This piece is on a 5 x 5 inch canvas. The composition is based on a section of road that connects Clifden to the village of Roundstone called the ‘Bog Road’. I applied the paint thickly and loosely once I had sketched in a rough compostion with charcoal.


Painting: Bog Road, stage 1



Once the first layer of paint had dried, I added more colour, especially to the foreground on the right (below). I felt it needed red but less roughly applied. I also added more green and gold here in small strokes to descrice this little gully at the side of the road. Then I altered the line where the land meets the sky slightly and added a touch of colour to the clouds as they seemed a bit flat..


Painting: Bog Road, stage 2



I left the rest of the painting much as it was. I was keen to strike a balance with this one – not to overwork it (as I am inclined to do sometimes) and to use plenty of paint in layers, in sympathy with the subject.

Seascape Canvas in Stages

This is a small seascape on canvas ( 4 x 4 inches ) carried out in a few stages. This is as much as I did at the first sitting. The sea and land take up less than a third of the painting, so the sky is the dominant feature.


Seascape canvas, stage 1



The photograph below shows the canvas as a whole at the next stage, having added more colour to create the headland shape on the horizon line and more depth to the sky.


Seascape canvas, stage 2



The last photo is taken straight on and shows the final inclusion of some red paint to the headland. I have flattened the perspective slightly in the foreground by dragging the paint downwards, which has the effect of allowing the viewer to look under the water.


Seascape canvas, finished



I’ve decided to leave it at this point. I feel that it is finished even though the paint layers are thin. What do you think?

Connemara Sheep

I took these pictures of Connemara sheep recently. This is a typical sight here – the sheep often feed and rest near the roadside because the tarmac surface is warm. They wander freely and graze on what they can find among the bog grasses. This one ( below) has just noticed me.


Photo of a sheep 1



This ram is giving me the eye because there are lambs around..


Photo of a sheep 2



How rugged and handsome these weather worn creatures seem in relation to their East coast cousins who appear plump and coiffed by comparison. Another ram decides to ignore me ( below).


Photo of a sheep 3



Then I spot a ewe with her lamb. They move quickly when they become aware of my presence so I take as many pictures as I can. It’s breezy and I’m finding it hard to keep the camera still so some of my shots are just out of focus. I keep all the images however as they will be useful as reference pictures.


Photo of a Ewe and Lamb



Photo of a Ewe and Lamb 2


The lamb stays close to it’s mother as they retreat across the heath together. These images remind me of Henry Moore’s beautiful sheep drawings which I will share in another post.

Finished Sea scape

I’ve been working on this one for a while now. This is where I left it …


Mannin painting, unfinished



This is the finished painting below. I’ve added more buildings and telegraph poles to the landscape to make this a seaside community under the eye of the storm, rather than just a lone building.


Mannin painting, finished



I’ve given the sea a bit more substance with more paint and I’ve used some more gold in the clouds. Finally, I’ve used charcoal to darken the surface a few degrees.

Recording the stages of work on this blog has been an interesting process for me and sometimes I wonder if I should have left the painting at an earlier stage. I am often tempted to darken things towards the end of a piece. What do you think in this case?

Clifden – 200th Birthday Celebrations

Clifden is celebrating an important birthday this year and there’s lots going on!
200 years ago, a landlord named John D’Arcy founded the town on his private estate. The town plan was triangular in shape, consisting of two wide streets which converge at Market Square and are connected by a narrower street at the lower side. When I look at old photographs of the town, it is astonishing to discover how little it has changed over the generations.
A website has been set up to mark the occasion and highlight some of the events that have been scheduled for 2012. It’s well worth a look, particularly if you are planning a visit to the area.
This photograph below shows Market Square as it was in the 19th century. Anyone who is familiar with the town will recognise Foyle’s hotel in the centre right of the frame and and E.J. Kings pub on the far right. The town is virtually unchanged as it is captured here ( apart from the very recent developments in Market Square ). I find it hard to reconcile the images of the people who have been frozen in time, long since gone.


Photo of Clifden in the 19th Century

Image from the Clifden 2012 website gallery and courtesy of the National Library of Ireland
Click here to go straight to the Clifden 2012 website



The second photo below is of Main Street in the 20th century – perhaps you can guess the year by looking at the cars. Once again, this street and many of its buildings are instantly recognisable.


Photo of Clifden in the 20th Century

Image from the Cifden 2012 website and courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland



This final image is Clifden as you might find it to day. We are looking down at Market Square – Main Street is on the left of the frame and Market Street on the right. It was taken during last years St. Patricks day parade. It is an image bursting with colour, celebration and community and to my mind, shows Clifden at its very best. Note the brightly colored buildings – this is very characteristic of the town – each year the ladders come out and shop fronts are given a fresh coat of paint for the tourist season ahead.


Photo of Clifden today

Image from the Clifden 2012 website and courtesy of Terence O’Toole

Spring flowers in Connemara

I took some photographs in the old graveyard in Clifden last week and among them several close ups of the wild flowers on the woodland floor. I included a photograph of the bluebells in a recent post but these were just the most visible plants. On closer inspection, I found a medley of colour and just at my feet!
This first picture is of the wild fuchsia, a plant that is truly synonymous with Connemara and far superior in my opinion, than its cultivated equivalent. I searched for an open flower and found only buds, but how beautifully they hang like ruby earrings. This amazing plant is the longest flowering of all and is found in hedgerows all over Connemara from early Spring right through Summer until the early Autumn.


Photo of a Fuschia



The next photo is of the Celandine, the Lesser Celandine to be precise. This is a personal favourite, more delicate and humble to me than the buttercup or the primrose.


Photo of a Lesser Celandine



And one more picture of the bluebell, just to complete this trio of primary colour.


Photo of Bluebells



Lastly I have a picture of a dandelion clock, still perfectly intact and below that, a delicate white flower that I was unable to identify – help me out if you can!


Photo of a Dandelion clock



Photo of unidentified white flower

New Heron sketch

I returned to the subject of the Heron to day. I approached this one in two stages. The first photo shows as much as I did at the first sitting – I decided to leave a white space for the Heron rather than working it over the background as I did with the last piece.


Painting of Heron, Stage 1



I completed the sketch when the first layer of paint and ink was completely dry. I also worked in a little more charcoal and some white chalk highlights when the second layer of paint was dry.


Painting of Heron, Stage 2



There is always the danger of overworking a piece that requires careful detail as with the heron in this case, but I am reasonably happy that I haven’t done that here.