The work on show in my site is work made over the last 2 – 3 year period with the exception of a few pieces.
I have always had a deep love of land and sea and now I have established a place to live that embraces both these preoccupations of mine, and thus provides me with daily stimulation and inspiration. West Cork is one of the most beautiful places to be. Growing up here as a child, the place, the people, and the uniquely rich cultural heritage of the place, moulded me as a person and as an artist.
Two and a half years ago I came back to live here having spent periods elsewhere in Ireland. In my estimation, no where compares to West Cork and Kerry. More grounded at home and at ease, I believe my work has taken on a new dimension and an enhanced spontaneity. It is a bit like putting on the most comfortable pair of shoes and being able to walk for endless miles without care or worry. I don’t have to think about what to paint or how to paint – it just presents its self to me on a daily basis. I live breathe and paint the place and life I live in!
The Sea dominates much of my work. I have always had a very strong connection with and attraction to the sea.
As a child endless hours on beaches, swimming walking by waves, looking at the sea, smelling it, tasting it, listening to it. Now where I live, I am practically on top of the sea. I can hear it and see it day and night. I never tire of looking at the sea. Every day, every hour it is different. A bit like life really, no matter what we think, it is always changing. Painting the sea comes naturally to me. I especially enjoy painting the sea on a large scale. I do 6 ft X 3 ft canvases and to me the scale allows me to express every kind of emotion the sea evokes. Some people think my big paintings are turbulent, but I try to captive the energy, the drama, the sound, the music, the mystery of the sea.
Fields have inspired me too. I love fields and hills – quirky shapes and patterns within fields made by hedges, trees or plant life. Rich tapestries of colour and texture. A feast for the eyes!
Boats are a new fascination of mine. I like the way they sit on the water – their elegant shapes and colours. Sometimes they mesmerise me – so many of them together! I enjoy painting them and looking at them.
Painting is my passion. I love using paint and colour to create my responses to the places I live in and love.
The physical act of painting is both exciting and demanding. A combination of inspiration and intuition allow me to make real the world I perceive.
Oil paint is an intoxicating medium to work with – I feel it leaves all other mediums for dead! The smell, texture and feel of it are fabulous! Sometimes it needs to be controlled and managed and manipulated, other times it needs to be let loose and do its own thing. I have learned to let it control me sometimes rather than me control it. Some of my paintings are very loud and other times they are very quiet. The act of making them is hard to define; I have no fool-proof formula. I just know what works for me. I don’t think you can teach someone how to paint. I think you just have to let them off to do their “own thing”. I spent 5 years in Art College, but I was lucky I was allowed to do my own thing. Any other way would have killed my spirit. The act of painting is a mystery, no fool-proof methods – what makes a painting good in my opinion, is its “essence”. No one can teach you how to have essence in what you do. It’s a magic formula – it is the difference between something that makes a beautiful sound and something that grates!
I never talk to other artists about painting it’s such a personal thing. I find it very difficult to work in front of people, or when people say ‘how did you do that? I find it hard to explain how.
The greatest paintings are the ones that affect you and imprint something of themselves on you. Paintings affect people on a physical level first, but then in a spiritual way – they affect your spirit. The energy with which you make something can be positive and negative. This comes through in all good work.
Everything I make is a one off original. I cannot repeat what I do. I work in a series and make several pieces around a theme, but I cannot repeat what I do, I can never go back and make it exactly the same way again. It’s just the way it is for me. So each painting is special.
My starting point for any piece of work is always a desire to communicate. To communicate something I am holding in my head in my memory, a visual memory and a sentiment or feeling about a place. I have no idea how something will turn out but I work relentlessly until it feels right to stop. My approach is very innate and spontaneous. I feel what I paint! This is why I don’t think I will ever make reproductions of my work in print form, as has been suggested to me so many times over the years.
A mark made by me is precious – a line, a smudge, a sweep, a blob, a blast of colour – it is very personal, very much part of me – part of the creative process which is connected to my spirit. Sometimes I enter a completely different world while I am painting. Absolutely no other thought is in my head except what I am making and doing, no words, no brain concepts, no thoughts other than the process. The engaging of paint on canvas, mark on paper, it is a very spontaneous and direct communication – all life and breath and spiritual effort goes into it. It is intense, exhilarating, uplifting and sometimes exhausting and draining. When I am working well I know exactly what to do, where to put a mark or colour to make something work. It is as if I am led in the right direction.
Every bit of life is captured in my work. Every bit of life I have. A lot of energy – a lot of essence – that is why my paintings mean a lot to me. I like making them, it is not always easy or without headache, but eventually it comes right. Vain and all as it sounds, I really enjoy looking at my own paintings. I sometimes look at them and wonder “how did I make that?” I do not remember the process because sometimes making a painting transports you to another world, another state of mind, another way of being! Creating is inspiration, perspiration and divine intervention, in my opinion! God blessed us all with talents and unique gifts. When we tap into ours and surrender to the creative spirit, then the work flows. I thank God for my gift and for His blessing me with my love of what I do. Everyone has something that transports them to another place!
While my paintings are intensely personal and mean a lot to me, I know from listening to people over the years that they inspire people in different ways. Not everyone connects with what I do, but for those that do connect; I really appreciate their enthusiasm and responses. The greatest compliments I get are from people who tell me how good my paintings make them feel, how they get a lift from what I do. For me that is the ultimate compliment. How fascinating that my way of seeing the world connects with so many people in different ways and on different levels.
Every stone thrown in the water has a ripple effect. Every star in the sky burns next to another, every breath we take is meant to be.
My paintings are part of the mystery of life. I make them because I feel compelled to. I make them in a way only I can; my way.
They are part of the bigger picture of life – the big endless canvas where we all work and toil to bring to life our dreams, our hopes, our realities, the mystery of life is the endless search for meaning.