Mannin Beach

I made a trip to Ballyconneely last week, a short drive south of Clifden. I brought my camera and made a quick detour to Mannin as the weather was so good. I normally associate the end of November with a certain gloom – receding light, rain and bitter cold but here we are, into December and still there are clear bright days. There was real warmth in the sun on this morning and the sea was calm and inviting and empty, except for a few bird tracks in the damp sand. Here’s the approach from the field below – the mossy grass is still vivid and bright. It’s deliciously spongy underfoot, feels a bit like an expensive carpet.

 

Mannin beach - the approach

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Bens mountain range is clear in this one.

 

Mannin beach from the approaching field

 

 

 

Here’s the cover photo again. There was hardly a breath in the air – the water was completely still and a perfect mirror for the pastel sky. All this blue seems infused with pink.

 

Beach at Mannin

 

 

 

A last look down the beach.

 

Mannin beach

Sea Paintings on Canvas – Next Stage

To day, I worked on two of the small paintings I started recently. At the risk of repeating myself, I am showing you the paintings as I left them. The first began like this.

 

House at Mannin, stage 1

 

 

I added lots more colour using ink and paint together to get it to this stage (below).

 

House at Mannin, stage 2

 

 

I left it to dry completely before working on it again. Then I touched up the house and added some charcoal to give the effect of rain in those clouds (below).

 

House at Mannin, stage 3

 

 

The next photo is of the same scene but it is the larger 8 x 8 inch canvas which began like this.

 

House at Mannin, 8x8, stage 1

 

 

I really attacked this with colour (below) in an effort to emphasize the dominance of the elements in this landscape and the insignificance of the house as a manmade construction within it. This is how it felt on this particular evening – the power of the natural landscape over everything.
I often think about this in relation to how it feels to live here in Connemara and I remember being quite struck by it when I settled here first. We are at the mercy of the elements here in a way that one is not living in a city. I suppose it is the effect of the wide expanse of the sky and the exposed, mostly treeless spaces combined with the force of the Atlantic weather.

 

House at Mannin, 8x8, stage 2

 

 

I used a combination of acrylic paint and ink and I used my hands instead of brushes to make strong gestures with the colour to achieve a kind of drama. It’s not finished yet but I am reasonably happy with the sky so far. I will let it dry and return to it later.

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.

The Coral Strand

I have mentioned the Coral Strand recently as it has been a source for some of my work. It is a most unusual beach as its name implies and I feel that it deserves a special mention here.
It is located a couple of miles south of Clifden and is accessible from the main road that connects the town to the coastal village of Ballyconneely. The strand looks like any other in this area as you approach it and as shown in this photo below.

 

Photo of Coral Strand 1

 

 

However, when you step on to the beach expecting to feel the silky sensation of sand between your toes, the prickly Coral is immediately obvious!

 

Photo of Coral Strand 2

 

 

This ‘Coral’ as it is known locally, is in fact a type of red calcium carbonate forming seaweed called ‘Maerl’. Mannin bay where the beach is found, is largely composed of the skeletons of Maerl that live on the sea bed and thrive in the unusually shallow, sheltered waters of the bay.

 

Photo of Coral Strand 1

 

 

Each piece of Coral is distinctive like a very small clean bone and it mingles with tiny shells and plants in this unique and protected area.

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.