Island

Small and Large Notebooks and Pencils

 

I’ve been asked to submit a couple of paintings for this year’s Sea week group exhibition. This annual event takes place in the nearby village of Letterfrack and is a celebration of the sea through music, word and the visual arts.

This year the theme is the Island. I’ve been thinking about how I see the islands ( in a literal way ) as a shape on the horizon line from the mainland, as a two dimensional shape on a map and sometimes as coloured images from space ( with the help of google earth ). I wanted to combine these ways of seeing so I took some photographs of the islands from the mainland and then looked at maps and other imagery (below).

 

photographs and map collected by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

 

I love this map by Tim Robinson – every town land, hill, island, inlet, mound and tomb is here. Every scaled inch is marked and has a name. I am drawn to the familiar shape of Omey island which is connected to the mainland by a strand at low tide.

 

 

Photograph of map by Tim Robinson

 

 

 

 

I begin by sketching an outline of the island as a shape on the horizon and then I flatten the perspective so that the shape extends underneath as if viewed from above. I like the resulting image as it also looks like a shape that is under the water like an iceberg.

 

Outline of Island shape by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

 

I used a broad brush to fill in colour – paint for the island shape and strand and blue inks for the water. The composition is similar to a painting I made called ‘Tinkers‘ after the novel of the same name. The choice of colour is similar and both allow the viewer to see water from different perspectives..

 

Second stage - Island painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

 

This is the piece as I’ve left it below. I filled in some details as if we are now seeing part of the island from the above. I put in Lough Feichin ( wonderful name! ), the large lake in the middle of the island and Tra Rabhach above it as well as some of the other beaches. I used brown ink to darken the water in places, I enjoy the way the inks react with the paint, especially where it has been thickly applied. I’ll return to it in a couple of days and see if it needs anything more.

 

Finished Island Painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

Looking at the painting now I think that choosing this removed perspective is appropriate for me as someone from the mainland. I love to visit the islands when I can but I know that there is something about the isolation and the restriction of movement that I would find difficult..

 

Omey Strand

Omey Island is a tidal island near Claddaghduff, north of Clifden. I drove there on a fine evening recently when the tide was out and I could walk across the strand. It is hardly noticeable as an island from the mainland until you get down to the beach. This is the view (below) looking across to Omey from the edge of Claddaghduff village.

 

Photograph of Omey Strand

 

 

It is possible to drive across the beach to the island at low tide and there are road signs along the way to guide you! It’s a strange sight in the middle of the strand and you have to remind yourself that the sea can cover a car here at high tide.

 

Photograph of road sign on Omey Strand

 

This is the view out to sea a little further along (below). The brightness of the open sky and glistening sand was stunning. I had the feeling I was in a desert and that I was absorbing a tonic sized portion of vitamin D that would last me a month.

I wanted to freeze the moment so that I could conjure it up again in my mind later and perhaps on some dark November evening when I will need to be reminded of such things.

 

Photograph of Omey Strand

 

 

This is the same view from the edge of Omey which is flanked by an idyllic stretch of golden sand and soft cushiony grass.

 

Photograph of Omey Strand from the Island

 

 

I returned back across to Claddaghduff making a mental note that I should allow myself more time on the next trip. Omey island has much to offer in terms of its natural beauty and its archaeological discoveries.

On my return, I took some photographs of the beach. There were some recent pony tracks in the sand (below).

 

Photograph of pony tracks in the sand

 

 

These next images reminded me that this place would be under water again in a couple of hours.

 

Photograph of Seaweed on  Omey Strand

 

 

 

Photograph of Seaweed on Omey Strand