On sunny mornings and lunchtimes I ate at this stone bench overlooking the sea, with the buzz of bees on the fuchsia bush at my back. On the grassy slope, tall fronds of purple loosestrife swayed in the breeze, the calm sea stretched out towards Scariff and the smaller Duinis island. Behind the islands the distant shapes of the Beara peninsula, the colour washed out to blues and greys against the horizon. I walked all the way up to Bolus head one sunny morning and across the top looking out towards the Skelligs. There was the matter of an unfortunate decision to come down directly over the hillside rather than go the long way round over the track but we won’t talk about that…by the time I was scared enough to consider retracing my steps I was already too far along and luckily made it to safe ground in one piece. Never trust an innocent looking hillside..
Two days of heavy drizzle blocked the view of the coast and the islands and at times made the sea disappear in the haze which meant a lot of indoor work and some wonderful eerie photos of the ghostly landscape.
Meanwhile I was doing the final draft of a short story, polishing and editing it; starting to work on some images and beginning to relax into the joy and immediacy of painting again. By the end I realised that to really loosen up I should have gone straight out sketching ‘en pleine air’ from the first day but it took that time to even get to that point. Because there’s an energy and immediacy to working outside that is hard to replicate in the studio.
The artist Linda Graham was in the cottage beside me and to hear her talk about being out painting in the January weather in Cill Rialaig and using four stones to hold the edges of the canvas down while she squeezed paint directly from the tube and her hands to spread it, was an inspiration in itself. If any of you are down near Ballinskelligs her wonderful exhibition opened last Friday night in the arts centre and will run until September. She is a really special person.
There is nothing quite like ‘filling the creative well’ by taking time out from normal life, going home with renewed energy, armed with lots of photos lots of ideas and lots of plans for the months ahead. Stepping back from everyday life gives you that space. I have already booked my next trip to Wales…
Some images of progress on the first painting I started which was from a photograph I had already of a wild garden. There is still a lot of work to do on the foreground but you can see how it progressed. The others that I began are looser and inspired by the landscape around but they are just beginnings so I will post their progress at a later date.