It’s been a while since I last posted. Almost exactly four years, in fact. A full time job and a baby don’t leave much time around the edges. But what better subject to paint with the precious free time I do have, than the lovely little face that I’ve been looking at intently for the last three years now. This doesn’t do her justice, of course, but here is a small oil painting of my little girl. Filling the frame like she fills my life. Bursting out of it even, like the clothes she keeps outgrowing. Turning to me here, about to tell me something about unicorns or mer-pups, probably.
I was passing the cafe at dusk on a cold day. The woman sitting in the cafe looked so cosy, she was laughing at something, perhaps something she shouldn’t have found funny since her hands covered her mouth. The person across leaned in, conspiratorially.
Outside, another woman was locking up her bicycle, awkwardly positioned with one foot in the road and the other turned in so that her bum stuck out. We’ve all been there.
I like to think of these as a collective portrait of Clontarf on a bright winters day. The two yellow bathing shelters are out on the Bull Island peninsular, the three green interior ones are inside a shelter on Clontarf road. I seem to have gone a bit Edward Hopper with the last three, with the simplified shapes, geometric design and careful placement of figures. Hopper apparently said his favourite thing was painting sunlight on the side of a house. I concur.
It seems a while since a day was so bright here. I’ve been reading ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys. Its set in the Caribbean and the way she writes evokes all the colours and strong contrasts, of people and situations. Possibly this paragraph, which has stayed with me since finishing the book, made me want to paint a really sunny day… “Everything was brightness, or dark. The walls, the blazing colours of the flowers in the garden, the nun’s habits were bright, but their veils, the Crucifix hanging from their waists, the shadows of the trees were black. That was how it was, light and dark, sun and shadow, Heaven and Hell”.
I can’t wait for the summer, there seems to be some building work going on on what looks like a lido, won’t that be fun if its in use by then. Maybe I’ll start putting some people in the pictures.
I’m posting from 30,000 ft, we just flew over Dublin bay. I was pleased to recognise some Landmarks, and feel affection for them. I’ve painted those chimneys quite a few times now and to see them from above was nice, to confirm their geography as I understood it from the ground. The water line zigzags away very slightly from my earth bound point of view but I hadn’t realised how regular those steps back of the coast line are, it’s possible to see it clearly from above. I wonder how that will inform my next painting.
This is the view from the little pier on Clontarf road at low tide. My brushwork has loosened up some which is good. Since I got to Dublin my style has been a little tight, quite different from my Norfolk paintings with their confident wet brushstrokes. I don’t know if it’s the change from natural to urban subject matter, or the time of year, changing to smaller canvases or perhaps even my state of mind in this new place. So many changes to contend with.
These red frames, sturdy and permanent, seemingly so still… they have moved. The average person wouldn’t notice. I hadn’t noticed until now. I haven’t ever seen them move, even though I see them from my window every day, but I know they do because I sketched them in this position yesterday and today their arrangement is completely different. I did a double take this morning.
Since my chimneys painting sold, I thought I’d try and reproduce it. Impossible of course… I painted these two within a few hours of each other yesterday, but the view is constantly changing. Observing the dusk fall was beautiful. The water holds onto the light longer than the air. Its an illusion I suppose, just reflecting the lighter part of the sky, but I like the idea that it absorbs the suns rays and glows by itself for a little while.
When I entered the not-yet-existent paintings, I titled them ‘Poolbeg Chimneys’ and ‘Red Boats’. The chimneys I got in one, but this is the third ‘Red Boats’ picture I’ve painted now, the first two didn’t cut the mustard I’m afraid. The first got mediocre reviews from my nearest and dearest, the second I abandoned after several hours of unsuccessful work, third time lucky though, I’m quite happy with this one. Just hope the paint dries enough to be able to frame and deliver it to the GAA clubhouse this afternoon for hanging.