Island Paintings

I’ve begun a series of small paintings based on my trip to Inishturk and Caher island recently. It was such a thrill for me to have the perspective of the islands from the sea – all that blue/black/green in the foreground with a gorgeous slice of land in the middle of it all. I decided to work small and quickly rather than give myself the pressure of a large canvas so I chose acrylic paper, small pieces – 3″ x 4″ and 5″ x 7″

I prepared several sheets with a wash of blue and white.

 

Stage one of island paintings

 

 

 

Next I outlined some rough compositions and I used acrylic paste for texture.

 

Stage two of island paintings

 

 

 

 

Once the paste was dry, I went in with lots of colour – some charcoal first for the cliffs. I used paint and ink applied thickly and thinly in turn to maximise the effects that these two materials bring when used together. I worked quickly and back and forth between several pieces. The one in the cover photo ( also below ) was the last piece I worked on. I think it works best because I had figured out what I was doing by this stage. This is what it looked like when wet below.

 

Inishturk from the sea by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

 

Here is the same piece when dry – the paint has settled so the textures are clearer. The colours will brighten when I coat the surface with an acrylic varnish later, which will not effect the texture.

 

Finished Island painting

 

 

 

 

Here’s another piece – the first photograph below shows what it looked like when wet.

 

Small Turk painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

The same piece when dry below.

 

Finished Island painting

 

 

 

 

I’ll be taking a break from painting and blogging soon as I have a job for the Summer months which I have already started. I’ll post more about that in a little while..

 

 

Inishturk

I joined a group led by Clifden archaeologist Michael Gibbons on a trip to Inish Turk and Caher Island this week. We set out from Cleggan harbour at 9.30am and headed for Caher island first, north east of Turk. It is tiny, uninhabited and difficult to access. The remains of an early Christian monastery survive on the island which is an ancient pilgrimage place and is still visited for this purpose today.

 

Map of the islands - Turk and Caher

Map of Inishturk and Caher Island 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we were unable to land on the island as there was quite a big swell even though the day was warm and calm. This was what we saw as we approached – the water was deceptively still, almost black and oily in appearance but it rose up suddenly in bursts which crashed heavily on the rocks at the shoreline.

 

Caher island just offshore

 

 

 

We turned around then and made our way back to Inishturk, stopping first to marvel at the base of these cliffs – a rupture of black basalt and granite. The light was incredible – it sparkled off the water and diffused as it rose, trapped in the black curve of rock which rises sharply from the water. I wish my photography skills were a bit better – this is my best picture.

 

Cliffs at Inishturk from the sea

 

 

 

We travelled over to the pretty harbour of Portdoon next ( cover photo ) where we disembarked and started our hike. The island is 5km long by 2.5km wide and we covered a good deal of it in the five or six hours we spent there. The landscape is an eye popping mix of undulating hills and valleys with ancient walls and field systems and dramatic cliff top walks. There’s a spectacular view of the Twelve Bens mountain range in this next one.

 

turk 1

 

 

 

The diamond shaped hill in the centre distance ( below ) is Croagh Patrick, an important pilgrimage mountain in county Mayo.

 

The landscape at Inishturk

 

 

Me in hiking mode below.

 

Photo of me in hiking mode

 

 

 

These sea stacks are known in Irish as ‘Buachaill mor’ and ‘Buachail beag’ ( Big boy and small boy ). The cliff views were spectacular and a little scary.

 

Inishturk cliffs viewed from the island

 

 

 

This next one is known locally as the sphynx – an incredible natural sculpture.

 

sea stacks at Inishturk

 

 

 

As we completed the loop back to Portdoon, we began to hear the sound of the sheep and their new lambs which dotted this part of the island – they were very willing to pose for photos..

 

Sheep on Inishturk

 

 

 

Lamb at Inishturk

 

 

 

Lastly, I stopped to take a picture of the post office which also operates as a Bed and Breakfast.

Every single islander we met along the way greeted us warmly and stopped for a chat. I was struck by the thought of living among such a small close community – just forty inhabitants today. This island is less known and travelled compared to it’s neighbours Inishbofin and Clare Island which attract large numbers of tourists in the Summer, but it is no less beautiful. I hope to make a return visit before the end of the Summer.

 

Inishturk post office