About the Artist
I was born in Dublin and I painted from a young age. I studied History of Art at Trinity College Dublin. I spent this time looking at art in books and visiting Galleries. I was particularly interested in Impressionists and Post Impressionists, Gaugin, Matisse, Pisarro, Degas, Van Gogh and Klimt being favourites for their brilliant use of colour, composition and motif. I also greatly admire Japanese art and its strong simple colours and compositions had a strong influence on some of these painters. I obviously also adore the old masters, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velazquez, Michelangelo etc. This was the background to my art which has probably had a quite a traditional effect on my work.
I am self -taught as a painter. Early on I mostly practiced with watercolour and gouache and then began to use chalk pastels. My first proper pictures were in pastel on paper. I love chalk pastel for its vivid and subtle range of colours. It’s particularly effective for drawing country and garden scenes where there can be so many shades of green. It’s also lovely to work with because it’s easy to sketch with lines and then blend areas of colour. It’s a delicate, subtle and bright medium and reasonable fast to use. Now I work in oil usually on linen and sometimes canvas. Linen has a lovely strong grain for painting on and using a transparent gesso and primer I often allow the grain and colour of the linen to come through in my work. I paint using brushes or palette knives and a mix of both. For me oil is the ultimate it can be built up, layer upon layer and I am often very slow painter and this is possible with oils and not with other media.
My subject matter comes largely from what I see around me. My inspiration now is almost entirely from the spectacular surroundings where I live in South Kerry the sea, beaches, coastline, rock-pools, hillsides, trees, plants and gardens. I like to paint outdoors when possible and almost always begin a landscape or garden painting on the spot and then work on them a little at home (I always work where I live rather than in a studio) and return to the same spot and work on them again. This process is often unsatisfactory because the sky and weather change and sometimes the seasons! A lot of my landscapes are painted over a few years partly for that reason. Nowadays I try to at least get the sky finished in one go. For seascapes and anything with water the sky really affects how the water looks too. In summer when the days are long and the days are drier I get a lot more work done. Sometimes I paint abstract or imaginary pieces and these are quite different in style to the rest of my work.
The main focus of my painting is colour. When I paint I source my colours as closely as possible to the scene I’m painting. I continually match the colour on the brush to what I’m looking at. The landscape in Kerry is wonderful for colour because in winter it’s full of purple, red and ochre and in summer all the shades of green come out. I try to paint every day when possible but often don’t. I nearly always paint in daylight as colours in electric light are so different. Generally it takes me months and often years to finish a painting. Occasionally I can paint a good picture straight off and that’s great because then it looks fresh and simple too. I discard a lot of work probably about half of it. It used to be about 4 out of 5 paintings so it’s improving!
I’ve always wanted to be a painter. Making decisions around how best to do it is challenging for obvious reasons like finance and also issues such as development of style. Having said that being a painter isn’t exclusive and I have lots of interests and incorporating these into my art is partly what it’s about. The lifestyle of being a painter suits me perfectly
I can work where I want. Spend time in the garden on the beach in the hills in places where I enjoy being and looking at beautiful things. Although even if I didn’t like the lifestyle I believe I would still be a painter. I also like that it’s creative and expressive and I feel it’s something I can improve at as time passes and I can work at it wherever I am.
At present I am exhibiting work in the Purcell Gallery Kenmare.