I am a week into my own painting time at Ballinglen Arts Foundation
in County Mayo, Ireland. It's very quiet here now in contrast to the camaraderie and intensity of the seven-day Oil&Wax Workshop that I taught here when I first arrived. The workshop was a great success, with plenty of time for day trips, drawing exercises, slide talks, and enjoying each others company at meals and at the pub. Most importantly the week provided enough time for the paintings to unfold and the process to be understood, and for the experiences in the dramatic and beautiful North Mayo landscape to be processed through the artist's work. (If this sounds appealing, plans are underway for two sessions next October/November--both an intro class and an advanced level--so if you are interested and not yet on my mailing list, please sign on here
, and you'll receive info with my winter newsletter.)
Above are several of the paintings I've done in my first week here, and they speak of the richness of the experience so far, and of my emotional response to the landscape. There are changes happening in my work--starker contrasts, and stronger colors, including some that are outside my usual range.
I'm feeling so moved and intrigued by this place and very grateful to have a month ahead to explore. The landscape right around the village is mostly gentle green farmland--rich with texture and color--and similar to what I know from previous trips to Ireland. But North Mayo also has some very distinctive geography. There is extensive bog land, soft and quiet, and stark with few trees. Along the coast this landscape ends abruptly at the edge of spectacular sea cliffs, ancient rock incredibly varied in its forms and colors. For example, near Ballycastle (where Ballinglen is located) is Downpatrick Head, a spectacular sea-stack that separated from the mainland about 1400 AD. Below are a few photos that show the character of this wild, rugged coast as well as the more gentle aspects of the countryside.
Here is a photo taken at the fossil beach at Easky, which we visited on the last day of the workshop:
Although these are specific images, my process while painting is an intuitive search through memories and emotions arising from experiencing this place. When the painting goes well, I'm intrigued by the mystery of this process--the way the essence of my experience comes through without conscious effort to express it.