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ballycastle, mid-wayI'm three weeks into my time at Ballinglen Arts Foundation, and the time has unfolded in ways that encompass all of my favorite aspects of North Mayo. I've enjoyed walks on the bog and along the wild seacoast cliffs, time in my studio, and good craic--seeing friends from last year and making some new ones. My younger brother Hugh is here for a week and a half which has been a lot of fun. He has a car, which has meant some good explorations in the afternoons after I've had my painting time. Tomorrow we leave to spend the weekend in the Burren, a geologically fascinating part of County Clare that I have only had a tantalizing glimpse of driving through a few years ago. The introductory Oil&Wax workshop last week went very well--it included trips out into the land/seascape to gather ideas for abstraction, lots of painting, and good times enjoying the wonderful camaraderie of the international group of artists who came.
If there's any problem here in Irish paradise it is that there is so much I want to be doing that the days all end too soon. I can already see that I won't come away with the number of paintings that I did last year. Teaching two workshops (there is another coming up that begins the 17th) and going exploring most afternoons has cut into my painting time. But I remind myself that sometimes the most important things done on a residency are not the actual paintings but the acquiring of memories and connections to the landscape. I find myself paying attention to different aspects of the surroundings here than I did last year--looking more closely than before at the tapestry of bog plants, the configuration of rocks in the sea, and the way that the earthy colors glow in the damp, dark weather.
Another reason i will have fewer paintings to take home is that I have spent most of my time on two fairly large panels that i will send over to Gormley's Fine Art (my gallery in Dublin) at the end of my time here. They will be featured at Gormley's booth at the Art Fair in London in January. I am pleased with that project and will post the results when the paintings are done (getting close!) It all goes back to my earlier post from Ballinglen--the idea of taking things easy, letting them unfold. Although there have been relatively few times of true quiet and solitude, there have been many other kinds of experiences to savor.
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