I have relocated my work space ( which has been a make do corner of our living room for the last couple of years ) to the top floor of the gallery building. Continue reading
I drove out towards Moyard with my camera this week in search of some seasonal colour – the luminous green of new growth and some pinks and purples from the bog flowers. I did not find what I expected – yes there is new growth but it does not seem as striking to me as in other years and the bog flowers are certainly not in abundance yet. Perhaps it is still too early and there is no doubt that we have had very little sunshine so far this year. Continue reading →
Cover photo: James Hanley (RHA), Carey Clarke (RHA), Gavin Lavelle and Una Sealy (RHA) outside the Lavelle Art Gallery, Clifden
We’ve had some interesting visitors to the gallery recently – old friends and acquaintances that we don’t get the opportunity to meet often enough. Pictured with Gavin outside the Lavelle Art Gallery are RHA ( Royal Hibernian Academy ) artists James Hanley, Carey Clarke ( former president of the RHA ) and Una Sealy. They were part of a group of fifteen artists that were here for a life drawing residency, organised by mutual friend and RUA painter Rosie McGurran. Continue reading →
Cover Image ‘Wild Garlic’ by Mark Furniss Photography
This post can also be viewed in the April edition of the Connemara Journal
The end of March saw the clocks put forward, giving us the welcome pleasure of longer daylight hours with the boon of drawn out days ahead. It’s as if the impatience of early spring is finally sated by the adjustment to summer time and new life is in abundance all at once. I swear that fresh buds and leaves sprung forth over night in my own back garden. The manipulation of time always strikes me as an enormous intervention, albeit a welcome one. Who are we to decide such a thing? Continue reading →
I have been working on two small seascapes over the last number of days. The surface is a heavyweight paper, prepared with gesso and mounted on canvas board. They each measure 15.5 cm x 10.5 cm. There is something satisfying about working on paper, its texture is fine and chalky compared to canvas and the surface holds the colour very well.
I approached these two paintings differently in that I finished them in one sitting, alternating between the two. I worked with the material in a more deliberate way, playing with the fluidity of the paint – sometimes thick, sometimes very thin. I allowed the inks to react with the paint, moving the imagery around until I arrived at something close to the effect I was looking for. This method reminds me of working with clay – creating a vessel on the wheel and then distorting it, trying to capture the fluidity of the material while it is wet. In these paintings, I tried to capture the energy and movement of the sea but also it’s darkness and it’s danger. I’ve called the first ( pictured again below ) ‘Ink Dark Sea.’
The second painting is titled ‘ Steel Blue Swell.’ I’ve indicated a hint of land in the distance but I did not worry too much about a horizon line.
The use of red and a hint of gold breaks the dominance of the blue.
It’s the first week of March and temperatures have dipped again with no real sign of spring in Connemara just yet. This week saw our first real snowfall with spectacular drifts on the mountains and a heavy smattering of white along the valleys and roads. We’ve been hearing about the icy weather around the country for a while but our proximity to the coast has kept us just above freezing point. Continue reading →
I got back to this piece recently, having started it before Christmas. Here is the painting as I found it below – the main shapes have been loosely defined with blocks of colour, mostly blues and yellows.
I looked up the photograph I had been using for reference – it was taken out along a road near Killary, about this time last year. I love the complimentary colours – the blue of the water and mountains against the orange landscape and I used this in the painting. The pool is the focus and this lovely dark blue that reflects the sky. I decided to leave out the poles.
Next I applied some coloured inks with another layer of acrylic paint to add more depth.
I added more colour around the pool shape in the foreground at this next stage below. It has become a little muddy and there is too much blue in the painting. I leave this layer to dry before continuing.
Here’s the finished piece after a little more work. I’ve defined the grasses with clearer brushstrokes to make them seem more fiery and I’ve changed the colours of the road.
This piece is available to purchase on our gallery website at lavelleartgallery.ie
I’ve been looking at the work of Henri Matisse and particularly the way that he uses colour and pattern. I like the contrast in his paintings – where he uses dark colour ( almost black ) to outline shapes. This still life ( below ) for example is vivid and bright but full of contrast.
Blue Still Life by Henri Matisse
I also like this one – the green vase at the centre with it’s delicate pink flowers are framed by a bold use of primary colour (red, yellow and blue) – it’s such an unusual combination. There’s lots of dark areas too on the table and in the sleeping figure.
Still Life with figure by Henri Matisse
I have much to learn! This landscape of mine below is influenced by elements of Matisse’s style – the strong colours and the use of pattern in the foreground to describe the gorse bushes.
Lakeside Gorse by Deborah Watkins
Cover image and poem reproduced with kind permission from Angelica Dooley, Brigit’s Garden
Anyone familiar with my this blog will know that I am a great fan of Brigit’s Garden, the Irish wildflower sanctuary founded by Jenny Beale and designed by Mary Reynolds. Consisting of four interlocking gardens inspired by four celtic seasons – samhain (winter), imbolc (spring), bealtaine (summer) and lughnasa (autumn), the gardens incorporate a myriad of native Irish plants, a woodland area, lake, wild flower meadows as well as specially commissioned sculpture by Irish artists. It is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year but I think it is exquisite in early summer ( when the wild flowers are in full bloom ) and also in winter.
There is something about the winter garden that is compelling and moving. The image of the sleeping woman formed out of the earth and the bronze figure ( made by Linda Brunker ) at rest on the island have I believe helped me to appreciate the beauty of this season. I should explain that I have not always appreciated winter, especially since moving to Connemara almost twenty four years ago. Growing up in Kildare and the suburbs of Dublin, I had a fairly indifferent attitude towards the winter months but this is simply not possible in Connemara, where the climate has a kind of physical, elemental force. I struggled with it for many years, particularly as a young mother battling with the practicalities of moving small children around in bad weather.
The winter garden under snowfall reproduced with kind permission from Brigit’s Garden
What is it about this sleeping woman – rendered out of the earth and so delicately portrayed in bronze – that is so captivating? When you walk out onto the island, she seems so peaceful by the curve of the water, under the simple lines of the trees that for an instant you worry, in case she might be disturbed.
Close up of sleeping woman from Stream
Perhaps it is simply that she reminds us that there is a time for rest, in nature and in life and that this is natural and necessary. There is comfort in this tranquil interpretation of winter because it offers us calm and reassurance.
Thank you to Angelica Dooley who had given me permission to reproduce her beautiful haiku.
You can visit the garden website at www.brigitsgarden.ie
Lay down your sweet head
and rest while winter rages.
Charge your weary soul.