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).
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.
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.
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..
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.
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..