Wound

This is another painting in a series based on the sea. I used a photograph I took last year of a cliff for reference, as it is viewed from the water. It has a cleft shaped by the formation of the rock that has been deepened by the corrosive action of the sea. I begin by looking at texture and the directions in the layers of rock, so I am starting with a skeleton of the image, made in textured paste.

 

First stage of 'Wound' painting

 

 

 

Once this layer is dry, I add colour – lots of purple and grey for the cliff and tones of blue for the sky and sea.

 

Second stage of 'Wound' painting

 

 

 

 

Next I add browns, greens and yellow and just a touch of red at the heart of this cleft. I am thinking about the storms in Connemara and the destruction that took place earlier in the year. I am playing with the notion of the land as something human that can be hurt but I use the colour sparingly so that just the suggestion is there.

 

'Wound' painting with more colour

 

 

 

 

The colour settles once it has dried and I add just a few more details and another touch of red at the centre that I allow to bleed into the blue and the white paint of the sea. I decide to call the piece ‘Wound.’

 

'Wound' by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

I am curious to know what people might feel about this painting? Does it make sense as an image? Please feel free to leave a comment if you feel like it.

The Edges of the Land

I’ve been working on a couple of paintings based on the Connemara coastline. I used some photos I took off the coast of Inishturk for reference. I started out with some texture in the form of paste which I applied directly onto a canvas board, in an effort to get some movement into the piece as well as surface texture. I had last winter in my mind and the destructive nature of the water which changed some parts of our coastline dramatically.

 

Textured paste on board

Textured paste on board 

 

 

 

Next some colour – new greens just purchased ( mixed with a little brown ) blue, gold and white. I left the canvas to dry overnight at this point and continued working on some other boards.

 

First layer of colour applied to painting

 First layers of colour

 

 

 

Here’s the finished piece. I’ve added more colour in the form of paint and acrylic ink. This one took only two sittings after which I felt it was ready to varnish. I developed the next two canvases a little further as you will see in the next post.

 

Margin painting finished

Finished paining

Gavin Lavelle Exhibition – Clifden Arts Week

Cover image ‘Spiral Eye’ by Gavin Lavelle

 

This post is shared with the Lavelle Art Gallery blog which I write with my husband Gavin Lavelle. The Lavelle Art Gallery is a family business run by Gavin in Clifden, County Galway where we live. We have a brand new website that we have been working on this summer and you can visit it it here at www.lavelleartgallery.ie 

Gavin opened an exhibition of his work this week end for Clifden Arts Week. The display is located at the Station House on the Galway Road and it comprises of twelve new works. The large space is divided into three rooms, the accompanying rooms feature work by Irish landscape artist Joe Wilson and artist and wood turner Angie Williams. The diversity of material and colour make for an interesting exhibition that showcases the high standard of artwork being made here in Connemara.

 

Gavin prepares for the exhibition opening

Preparation for the exhibition opening. Wood turned forms by Angie Williams behind and paintings and drawings by Joe Wilson in the far room.

 

 

 

New works by Gavin include two large circular forms entitled ‘Spiral Eye’ and ‘Hive’ in which a myriad of pattern, beads and glass eyes form a kaleidoscope arrangement.

 

Spiral Eye - detail

‘Spiral Eye’ – detail

 

 

 

'Hive' by Gavin Lavelle

‘Hive’

 

 

The collection includes a small hand made triptych with a gold leaf central panel. There are several large collage paintings and a giant size map of Ireland.

 

Triptych central panel

Triptych central panel

 

 

 

Gavin collects his imagery from a variety of sources; maps, bird books, biology and botanical source books. He also uses vintage jewellery, beads, glass eyes and bones and twigs that have been painted or covered with gold leaf.

The compositions are all held within a structure, sometimes it is an adaptation from a classical painting or a real or imagined map. Larger forms are constructed out of wood into circular panels or domes. He uses antique boxes or specially constructed cabinets for smaller pieces.

Paint binds all of the strange, unconnected material together. A sensitive use of rich colour and contrast allows the imagery to flow in a seamless fashion in spite of its incongruity, creating an ‘alternative reality for the viewer’.

Of his work Gavin says ‘there’s a framework I have developed and a language that I use which can give the viewer enough scope to enter the paintings and enjoy them for themselves. Ideally I am happy enough with the viewer being engaged enough to meet me half way.’

Gavin Lavelle Exhibition – Clifden Arts Week

Spiral Eye by Gavin Lavelle

Spiral Eye by Gavin Lavelle

Gavin Lavelle opened an exhibition of his work this week end for Clifden Arts Week. The display is located at the Station House on the Galway Road and it comprises of twelve new works. The large space is divided into three rooms, the accompanying rooms feature work by Irish landscape artist Joe Wilson and artist and woodturner Angie Williams. The diversity of material and colour make for an interesting exhibition that showcases the high standard of artwork being made here in Connemara. Continue reading

Gallery Makeover

Hugh O’Donnell at work – July 2014

We’ve had an exciting and busy few months at the Lavelle Art Gallery this Summer. Our lovely old building on Main Street Clifden has been getting a makeover and it’s well underway. Work began in July with the inimitable work ethic of Mr Hugh O’Donnell who repainted the whole building in glorious Indian Palace yellow in just over a day. The gallery has been painted this colour since the early 1980’s and it just wouldn’t be right to choose any other, in fact bright yellow is a part of our identity that we are proud to preserve. Continue reading

Gorse – The Colour of Summer

I wrote this piece for the May issue of the Connemara Journal, which will be available shortly.

April brought unexpected heat as well as more predictable showers this year –  a boon of warmth and rain that has resulted in a rush of growth all over Connemara. My own back garden seemed to come alive with colour overnight – new leaves and blossoms swelled in perfect haste, you could almost hear the growth. The gorse transformed itself invisibly from a few scattered flowers into a sea of deep egg yellow that steals a little further every day. Also known as furze, the scent of this impressive plant is subtle but heady, something like the delicate sweetness of coconut. Along with our native fuchsia, it is the shrub that most people associate with this part of the world and it’s hardiness and vivid beauty describe this place like no other. It is also one of our longest flowering plants, coming into it’s own in April (although blooms can be seen much earlier) and lasting right though the summer and into early winter.

 

Roadside 1

Late summer gorse and heathers at the roadside in Errislannin by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

It is hard not to miss the gorse in Connemara at the moment, in thick banks along the roadsides and in great mounds and ridges that brighten the landscape. It is closely related to the brooms species of plant and they share similar characteristics with their dense slender stems and very small leaves. Gorse distinguishes itself with it’s sharp thorns ( which can measure up to four centimetres long ) and it’s bright showy flowers are always yellow.

 

Another photo of gorse

Gorse thorns and blossoms by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

Gorse has a long history as a fuel because it is easy to burn and it burns very well, reputedly giving off as much heat as charcoal. The ashes it produces are rich in alkali which are very enriching for the soil so it is often burnt down to improve the quality of the land, a practice which is hazardous in dry weather.

Historically, the bark and flowers have been used to produce a yellow dye and gorse flowers have also been used to add flavour and colour to whiskey. In homeopathy the gorse is used as a remedy to give people courage. It’s evergreen leaves and long flowering blossoms are a reminder of the returning sun after short winter days, it’s cheery colour a promise of summer.

November Landscapes

Cover image – ‘November Pool’ by Deborah Watkins

 

 

These landscapes were worked together. They are all done on 5″ x 7″ heavyweight acrylic paper. The one above is based on a view of the Twelve Bens mountain range from the Roundstone Bog Road. I’ve kept the mountains sketchy and light to make them recede a little and I’ve used lots of thick paint and ink in the foreground to describe the grasses and this large pool. I didn’t take photographs during the process  – they were worked quickly and sometimes I find that stopping to take images interrupts the session too much.

I’ve called this one below ‘November Red’ – the colour of the bog has been exaggerated but the contrast between the paleness of the grasses and the peat itself is there.

 

November Red by Deborah Watkins

‘November Red’ by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

This next painting was also worked quickly – I’ve used large brushes for the foreground and smaller ones to describe the hills behind. It’s evening so the colours are all quite dark. I’ve attempted to heighten the drama with this dark cloud shape that mirrors the swirling lines of the bog.

 

November Landscape by Deborah Watkins

‘November Evening’ by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

A little too much colour for November? Perhaps, but is is all fading now and quickly so maybe I’m just taking stock..

 

And then came the Sun

Derryinver, Connemara by Renee Plantureux

Yes! We’ve had our second dry day in a row. In a row! Great cause for celebration and excitement after the last few weeks of non stop rain. Our poor hens have been trudging around in the swamp that used to be our garden looking very bedraggled and forlorn. I can detect a spring in their step to day which is catching..

Yesterday I left the breakfast dishes in the sink I was so keen to get outside and enjoy the sun. I went to visit a friend in Moyard, a small townland nearby and I stopped on the Bog road ( above ) to take some pictures en route. It’s near the spot where I took the blurry rain shots in a recent post, just a little further along the road. Here’s some more photos – just look at that blue sky below!

 

 

Blue skies over the Bog Road

 

 

I remember taking some pictures not far from here last January and the sky was a similar bright blue colour. It’s striking when you see it reflected in the water pools as you can see in these next images.

 

Blue reflections on the bog

 

 

 

Blue Pool in the bog

 

 

 

I love the blackness of these turf stacks in the next shots, I suppose due to the fact that they are sodden with water.

 

Black turf stack

 

 

 

Just look at this next one, it’s more like black iron or lava than turf..

 

Close up of turf stack

Late Summer Hedgerows

The roadside is brightened with mounds of purple and yellow colour at the moment – the long flowering gorse ( remember when I took some photos of the first Spring gorse earlier this year? ) and the purple heather.

 

Heather and Gorse

 

 

 

The other colour that is starting to appear is the orange of the Montbretia plant. It has been visible until now as bright green clumps along the roadside.

 

Montbretia

 

 

 

 

The sight of the first few blooms makes me a tiny bit sad because it signals the beginning of the end of the Summer (what Summer I hear you say?) In a couple of weeks, these grassy banks will be bursting with swooping orange flowers. Here’s some more pictures.

 

Montbretia flowers

 

 

 

 

This next close up makes me think of Triffids

 

Close up of Montbretia plant

 

Welcome Back! Seascape in Progress

I’m back after my short break and I’ve returned to the sea to do some painting..

I started this one with the idea of setting up some kind of contrast between the bright shore line and the darker water out to sea. This is how it began below.

The sky takes up less than a third of the page so the emphasis is very much on the water. I’ve used a touch of red on the island shape and some charcoal in the foreground to suggest some rock shapes. The rest of the colour is a mixture of acrylic paint and ink.

 

Seascape first stage

 

 

 

This is the next stage below. I’ve used lots of bright colour near the shore line – turquoise, green and some pink. I find the colours of the sea seductive and inviting near the shore and I want to play this against the water further out towards the horizon where it becomes mysterious and dangerous.

 

seascape stage 2

 

 

 

The next image is exactly the same but taken a couple of days later. The paint has ‘settled’ and some of the thin layers in the foreground have shrunk a bit as they have dried. The colours have dulled a little too but I’ll bring them back later when I varnish the finished piece.

 

seascape - paint dry

 

 

 

This is the finished painting below. I tidied up the horizon line and added a bit more purple to the island shape. I also used some more paint and charcoal on the rocks. Once the paint was dry, I varnished the whole thing.

I’m happy enough with this one – it needed very little adjustment after the first sitting so I think it has an energy that reflects how it was made. I like the way the paint and charcol bled together in the foreground into these watery shapes that look like seaweed.

 

 

Finished Seascape

 

 

 

Do you think the contrast works here? What does the sea mean to you?