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.

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.

New Heron sketch

I returned to the subject of the Heron to day. I approached this one in two stages. The first photo shows as much as I did at the first sitting – I decided to leave a white space for the Heron rather than working it over the background as I did with the last piece.

 

Painting of Heron, Stage 1

 

 

I completed the sketch when the first layer of paint and ink was completely dry. I also worked in a little more charcoal and some white chalk highlights when the second layer of paint was dry.

 

Painting of Heron, Stage 2

 

 

There is always the danger of overworking a piece that requires careful detail as with the heron in this case, but I am reasonably happy that I haven’t done that here.

White horses passing by

I took these photographs on my phone last week on Mannin beach which is just south of Clifden. It was the last day of school so my three daughters and I headed for the beach in the afternoon with a picnic. Mannin hosts a hard to rival string of beaches along its coastline near the village of Ballyconneely. We spotted these white horses in the distance when we reached the shore.

 

White Horses 1

 

 

They had spotted us too and lost no time in moving towards us.

 

White Horses 2

 

 

Such a beautiful sight, almost surreal against the backdop of sand and sky.

 

White Horses 3

Sunshine, the beach and a Heron

The sun has been shining here in Clifden since the week end, the temperature reached 19 degrees in some areas, which is almost unheard of for the month of March. Are we warming up quite literally for a long hot Summer? Others may dispute this but the last really hot Summer that I can remember in Connemara was in 1995. We usually get a mixture of fine days and wet days/weeks, the latter standing out more in my memory for the last couple of years. Let’s hope 2012 will be a good one. There is no place finer than Connemara in good weather, it’s a bit like being in the world’s best holiday destination all Summer long, for free!
To day, I grabbed my camera and drove out to Ardmore beach ( below ), just outside the town, where I took some pictures and was lucky enough to spot a heron.

 

Photo of a beach

 

 

Here it is looking along the shore line. It stood perfectly still for what seemed like a long while.

 

Photo of a Heron

 

 

Here’s a close up. I love the reflection in the water, I’m going to have fun with this in paint..

 

Photo 2 of a Heron

 

 

And then it moved and I noticed a companion in the distance..

 

Photo 3 of Heron

 

 

One last picture looking back up the beach, a glorious day.

 

Photo 2 of a beach

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.