August 15, 2016

And now for something different...

A few years back, driving west on R340, the wonderfully scenic twisty road along the Connemara coast from Galway towards Carna, we passed over a narrow inlet and up ahead saw a road off to the left winding down to a pier. 

Now, I never saw a pier I didn't like. So we turned off the road and doubled back past one of those ubiquitous—and very effective—signs warning us not to drive into the bay, down to the long
concrete pier which sloping gently into the water. There I found two amazing piles of shells, one mostly clamshells and the other mostly oyster shells. They were so closely packed that it looked like an art installation, carefully assembled by hand. After four years I've finally done the painting I first envisioned that day, that magical gathering of gorgeously colored shells.

While trying to come up with a name for the painting, I learned that we had been in the townland of Cill Chiaráin, which means, "Ciarán's Church." The sixth-century Saint Ciarán spent many years here. Thus, "St.
Ciarán's Shells."

July 7, 2016

Which came first, the pony or the frame?

Just a couple weeks ago I came across this frame, dusty and damaged, in a favorite antiques shop in Greene, NY.  We had just arrived for the summer at our upstate NY headquarters, our cottage by the lake. The price was ridiculously low but I would have spent a lot for it. The three frames that had been rather sloppily nailed together could have been easily taken apart and I'd have had three beautiful frames for the price of one. But the frame as it was was just too gorgeous to mess with. I took it home and wiped it down with a couple of Wet Ones and then slapped on a coat of satin Poly and, presto, a million dollar frame.

The inside dimension of the frame was 16 x 20 so I knew I could easily get a beveled mirror that size and I would have an instant classic. But it was 16 x 20 and the one primed empty canvas I had in the studio happened to be 16 x 20, so I decided to do a painting to fit this frame.

I wanted something simple and bold enough to compete with the powerful impact of the frame. When in doubt paint a white horse, so off I went. 

February 26, 2016

Reflecting on Gougane Lake

 Gougane Barra is surely the most calming, spiritually fulfilling location in all of Ireland for Karen and me. A couple of years ago I painted the haunting moss-covered trees of the nearby Gougane Barra National ForestNow I'm back
"Reflecting on Gougane Lake" is a depiction of the shoreline one morning after two days of steady rain.  The lake had risen high enough that the water partially covered the lowest hanging branches of the willow tree behind the ruins of St. Finbar's monestary.

 The day was clear, the water eerily still, and it was hard to distinguish between what was real and what was reflection. One clue: a small floating swan feather drifted slowly... on the water... on the sky?   :-)

 Finbar's Rowboat

Another souvenir of Gougane Barra, this old painted rowboat is tied up to the lake shore and is available to the guests of the charming Gougane Barra Hotel. Although it probably never belonged to St. Finbar, whose monestary was located here about fourteen hundred years ago, it would truly be  a spiritual journey to row it around this gorgeous lake. Although we didn't take it out for a row, I sure wanted to take its image with me when we reluctantly drove away. 

If you're ever in the southern half of Ireland, do yourself a favor and visit Gougane Barra, in the mountains of Cork east of Kenmare, at the head waters of the sacred River Lee.