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
Clifden came alive this Easter and although the rush has subsided, there is still a good energy about town as visitors continue to arrive and the sun continues to shine. People started arriving on Good Friday and by Saturday, the town was full. There was a fantastic energy on every street – people sipping coffee out of doors, restaurants busy with their new bills of fare, shoppers bustling in and out of doorways and not a free parking space in sight. 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.
( I am sharing this post from my painting blog deborahwatkinspaintings.com )
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.
This piece was written for the current issue of the Connemara Journal, out now.
The 2014 Sea Week Festival celebrated its 30th year this year with a series of events that brought the village of Letterfrack on to the national stage. It began on the 17th October with a visit by President Higgins who opened the Letterfrack Poetry Trail and Small Works Exhibition in the National Park.
President Higgins and his wife Sabina at the launch of the Poetry trail with Leo Hallissey and David Keane, photo by Aoife Herriot.
The Connemara Environmental Education and Cultural Centre commissioned nine poems by nine of Irelands most eminent poets for the occasion. The poems are carved onto plaques made of native larch, designed by Conservation Centre Letterfrack. They are mounted on slate from the old industrial school and strategically placed around the National Park, Connemara West centre and village of Letterfrack. Some of the poems are specific to their site while others are more general in nature. Together they make for a most enjoyable and thought provoking walk for the community and for our visitors. The poets are Theo Dorgan, Paula Meehan, Rita Ann Higgins, Joan McBreen, Moya Cannon, Michael Gorman, Louis de Paor, Mary O’Malley and Eva Bourke. Letterfrack is a thriving centre of education today but it has always acknowledged its troubled history in a spirit of openness that is respectful to those who lived here in less happier times. If you haven’t been on the Poetry Trail yet, go out and enjoy it soon, it is well worth a visit.
President Higgins views the work with David Keane, photo by Aoife Herriot
The Small Works Exhibition is an annual event that is a gem of an idea brought into fruition by Leo Hallissey, the driving force behind this festival. It has become an integral part of Sea Week and it is unusual because the artwork is shown anonymously, allowing the viewer to decide what he or she likes without being influenced by a name. It is also unusual because each painting is made available for sale by the artists at the knock down price of €90.00 or €120.00 for a framed piece. The generosity of spirit at the heart of this collective makes it special and this is shared by the artists and by everyone who purchases an art work.
One of the artworks at the Small Works Exhibition
‘The Move away from the Coast’ – painting at the Small Works Exhibition
David Keane prepared this years brief which was entitled ‘Time and Tide.’ Artists living in the community were asked to reflect on the fragile nature of existence on the edge of the Atlantic, bearing in mind the impact of last Winter’s storms. The show was skillfully curated by visual artist Mary Hession and artist and wood turner Angie Williams – no easy task with literally dozens of artworks encompassing a wide range of styles. President Higgins took time to view each piece before he shared a few words with the assembled crowd. The president and his wife Sabina were presented with a hand bound copy of poems from the trail, transcribed by the poets themselves as well as two beautiful productions from Artisan House and a wooden bowl made by Angie Williams.
President Higgins and his wife Sabina with Mary Ruddy from Artisan House and wood turner and artist Angie Williams, photo by Aoife Herriot
These two events were highlights for me but they were just part of a rich and varied programme that celebrates the sea through music and dance, walks, workshops, a spectacular ‘After the Light’ parade and much more. Congratulations and thanks to all those involved for making this years festival such a great success.