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?

New canvases

I’ve started some paintings on canvas. These usually develop over several sittings so I’m recording the progress (or otherwise!) as I go.
While it is possible for me to finish a small painting on paper in one session, I find that the canvas surface demands much more. I usually apply a base colour followed by a rough sketch of the composition in paint. I often work on several at one time so that I can explore different ideas during one sitting. Here are three pieces I have started. Once again, the theme is the sea.

 

New Canvas 1

 

I covered the canvas with a metallic gold paint in this piece above before outlining the composition roughly. This next one (below) is of a house near Mannin Strand.

 

New Canvas 2

 

 

New Canvas 2b

 

I’ve cropped all of the images except the one above so that you can see the canvas in three dimensions.
Many painters choose not to paint around the edges or paint a neutral colour there instead. I prefer to continue the line of the composition loosely around the edge.

 

 

New Canvas 3

 

This one is a larger version ( 8 x 8 inch canvas ) of the last piece which measures 4 x 4 inches.
I was able to fill in more detail with this one while the paint was still wet, although the piece is still quite basic in its form and range of colour. I will come back to it once this layer has dried completely.

Evening Sea – More sketches in paint

Here are some more of the Sea paintings I made recently. The photographs describe the paintings as they developed. The first group of three include the beach, but it is essentially the same viewpoint as the photos and painting from my last blog post.

 

Beach Painting, stage 1

 

 

Beach Painting, stage 2

 

 

Beach Painting, stage 3

 

 

These next two photos are of another piece in progress. I have used less paint in this one because I’m working with a lightweight colored paper which cannot take too much paint or water.

 

Landscape painting, stage 1

 

 

Landscape painting, stage 2

 

 

I quite like the energy in this one although again, I may have allowed it to become too dark.

Evening Sea – In Paint

Last week, I took a short drive south of Clifden to the Coral Strand, which is near the village of Ballyconneely. It was evening and the sun was setting against a menacing sky which threatened for a while and opened into a downpour just as I was leaving. The dark blue and turquoise colours of sky and sea against the peach coral sand and golds of the evening sun were truly spectacular. Here are a couple of the photographs that I took;

 

Photo 1 of Coral strand

 

 

Photo 2 of Coral strand

 

The top photo was taken slightly earlier in the evening. The rain storm is visibly brewing in this magnificent cloud, which seems unnaturally solid and bulky in the way that it hangs over the land in the distance. I tackled the subject in paint, as you can see below and tried to keep my focus on colour and atmosphere. The first picture shows the initial sketching out of the composition in charcoal and acrylic paint.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 1

 

 

I’m using a heavy acrylic paper here. I’ve added more colour for the next shot.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 2

 

 

I’m always in danger of going too far with these because I’m working quite fast and layering wet on top of wet.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 3

 

 

Looking back I like the piece at this stage ( above ). However, I took it further as you will see below and it has darkened considerably.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 4

 

What do you think about this one? It was still wet when I took the photograph. Did I take it too far?

Sunshine, beach and Heron in paint

Last week, I spent some time on Ardmore beach, near Clifden and I took some photographs which I blogged about. Over the week end, I returned to these and made some sketches in paint.

 

Painting of Seascape 1

 

 

I used acrylic paint, ink and charcoal here on a heavy acrylic paper. The colours are not strictly true to life but I love this combination of blue and brown and I think the two together look exactly how the sea smells, if that makes any sense at all..

 

Painting of Seascape 2

 

 

The paint is thicker here in places. These sketches are still wet as I photographed them. They were done in one sitting – I might have a look at them again when the paint is dry and make some additions. Here’s one below of the Heron. It is done on a light weight coloured paper.

 

Painting of Seascape with Heron

 

 

I will add some chalk or white pastel to this one when it is dry just where the rocks have bled in to the sea on the top half of the sketch.

Sketches in paint 2

These sketches are all based on the same scene, along the coast just outside the village of Claddaghduff, which is about seven or eight miles from Clifden.
In the vein of loose painting, I completed them very quickly (if they can be called complete). One is on a colored paper and the other two are on a heavy acrylic paper.

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 1

 

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 2

 

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 3

 

 

I enjoy working on a colored ground or paper and it is not quite the same thing as paper that I have colored myself, although I probably need to work on this. Psychologically, one feels more free straight away and I think this usually shows. It has something to do with the daunting hold a blank white sheet of paper has on the mind – it scares us a little. This really should not be the case for someone like myself who has been putting paint on paper since childhood but I do think that it is so.
The other point about these colored papers is that they are very light and not really designed for heavy applications of paint. They tend to buckle especially if larger in size than about A5. This does not bother me especially but may be off putting for a potential buyer/owner of the piece. What is your opinion?

Sketches in paint 1

This photograph of a grouping of trees is not far from Clifden castle, just outside the town. I took it from quite a distance so the image is a little unclear.

 

Photo of trees

 

 

The trees in Connemara are few and far between, mostly Hawthorn which are slow growing and can withstand the harsh weather. They have a tendency to grow in the direction of the prevailing wind as in the photo and appear quite striking. Here’s my sketch below –

 

Painting of trees

 

 

I chose to straighten the tree in this instance but I am making a mental note as I type to return to this subject again soon. It is done on a blank water colour paper, postcard size. I’ve used a little charcoal to highlight the shadows and I’ve allowed the paint to fall down the page where it was thin.

Sea sketches

I made some quick sea sketches in an effort to loosen up my painting and allow it to be more expressive. To this end, I chose coloured paper, acrylic paint, ink, charcoal and large brushes.

The subject matter is the sea, its dangers and its allures. I was thinking specifically about a stretch of sea between an island called ‘Inish Bofin’ (just off the coast at Cleggan, about seven miles from Clifden) and it’s neighbour ‘Inish Shark’.

 

Sea Sketch 1

 

 

Sea Sketch 2

 

 

Bofin has a population of about two hundred inhabitants while Shark was abandoned in the 1960’s, due to lack of support from the government of the day and also due to the hazardous waters around it. The two islands once shared life as sisters. The Shark people regularly made the journey over to Bofin, particularly on a Sunday, so that they could attend the church there. The stretch of water and most direct route between the two is known as ‘The Sound’ and is particularly dangerous due to a cross section of currents and shifting sands near the shore. The islanders rarely took this route because of the danger and some of the men that ran the risk, paid for it with their lives.

 

Map of Inishbofin

http://homepage.eircom.net/~inishbofinisland/map.htm

 

 

When looking over to Shark from Bofin, the waters of the Sound sometimes appear almost black and it meets the Bofin shore at a deceptively idyllic beach known as Tra Gheal ( which means bright or silver beach ).

 

Photo of man looking out across a bay

http://www.inishbofin.com/photo_gallery.html

 

 

The island is a tonic for the senses, everywhere you go the sea is just there, the sound, sight and smell of it. There is for me a wavering sense of awe and trepidation about this particular spot as the knowledge of those who perished there unsettles its astounding beauty.

I plan to continue working on a series of sketches about the Sound which may turn in to paintings later.

Loosening up

It takes me a day or two to get in to a painting rhythm once I have broken my routine. I have been looking over some of my work, particularly these sea paintings I did about five months ago. I plan to return to this looser style of working on paper as I can get lots of ideas out quickly and it is a good way to get back to work after a break

 

Sea Painting 1

 

 

Sea Painting 2

 

 

Sea Painting 3

 

 

These pieces were done on acrylic paper. I used acrylic paint, ink and charcoal and varied the way in which the paint was applied. It is very thick in areas such as in the foreground of the middle piece and thin elsewhere. I like the way the charcoal leaves its mark on the paint and for me it adds darkness and character to these pieces.
I plan to return to this looser style of work and use these materials to bring some expression back to my work.

The Sea

The sea is a constant source of inspiration here as we have stunning stretches of beautiful beaches and coastline to enjoy.
The Atlantic ocean is completely different to the Irish Sea on the East coast of Ireland where I grew up. It is wild, cold, often dangerous and always beautiful compared to the temperate waters of the East coast.
I have done a number of sea paintings on paper with paint, ink and chalk, to give the effect of the waves. Here are two examples below;

 

Sea painting 1

 

 

Sea painting 2

 

 

I was thinking about Japanese sea prints when I was doing these. The famous one below is called ‘The Waves at Kanagawa’ by Hokusai. It is part of a large collection of Japanese prints in the Blackburn Museum in Lancashire in England.

 

Print: The Waves at Kanagawa, by Hokusai

 

 

Hokusai (1760-1849) is possibly Japan’s best known artist but this image is not at all typical of what was being done at the time. Traditional Japanese art would not have painted the lower class fisherman, seen here riding the waves in their boats. Neither would they have been concerned with perspective, used here to show Mount Fuji in the distance. Hokusai was influenced by Dutch landscapes of the time and his unique use of colour and flattening of images went on to influence Western art. European artists such as Van Gogh, Manet and Degas would have studied this style and made elements of it their own.
In my paintings, I imitated the use of perspective by making the waves the focus in the foreground and and suggesting a typical Irish island shape in the background.