Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas to all!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May your Christmas be peaceful and joyful!

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Portrait of Katherine - an Irish lady" - oil painting

Oils on canvas (commissioned)

Portrait in oils of Katherine, a dear and sweet Irish Lady.

I really enjoyed doing this portrait – trying to capture Katherine’s sweet smile and gentle face.

... A face full of joy and pain and the many memories of a lifetime.

For more information about commissions, just contact me through my website Clare Artist or from my Gallery

"Memories of Spanish Point" - oil painting

Oil on canvas 30×40 inches (commissioned)

A very special painting for my dear friend, Bridget, remembering a time when she and her dearly departed husband watched the dolphins at Spanish Point.

May your memories of that day always be with you, dear Bridget and comfort you when you feel alone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Polar Bear on Ice" - Oil painting

Oils on canvas

I have been working on this painting for several months and now, I think, it is finished… The temptation to add more and more is an artist’s greatest dilemma… knowing when to stop!

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native largely within the Arctic circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world’s largest carnivore species found on land. It is also the largest bear, together with the omnivore Kodiak bear which is approximately the same size. An adult male weighs around 350–680 kg (770–1,500 lb),[ while an adult female is about half that size.

Although it is closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrow ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet.

Although most polar bears are born on land, it spends most of its time at sea, hence its name meaning “maritime bear”, and can hunt consistently only from sea ice, spending much of the year on the frozen sea.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 5 of the 19 polar bear sub populations in decline.

For decades, unrestricted hunting raised international concern for the future of the species; populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures.
Information source: Wikipedia

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oils on canvas

The Kilrush Art Group meets every Friday evening at the community hall but on Friday 16 October the hall was being used for another function so our group made our way to the Life Boat Station in Cappa.

I wish I had my camera but as usual, its never with me for the most spectacular natural scenes. Purples, pinks, bright yellow and gorgeous blues greeted us as we arrived at the station. The water was like glass and Scattery Island a silhouette in the distance. The ancient round tower with only a part of the church ruins I have seen so many times!

So, today (Saturday) after an art class, I painted the scene from memory! I wish I had a photograph but sometimes memory is even more vivid!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Bluebell Heaven" - oil painting

Oil on canvas (commissioned) A larger image can be seen on my gallery.  

This very special painting was commissioned by my dear friend, Bridget. She saw my first bluebell painting and wanted one of her own to commemorate her beloved father and husband. She kindly gave me permission to write the story of this painting.  

She lost her father to cancer several years ago and her husband was tragically killed in a road accident only a few weeks ago. She trusted me to paint a scene of the two of them walking in bluebell fields.  

I remembered the story of the Pilgrim's Progress from years ago and adapted the story to depict them on their way to the 'light' (Heaven). Her father stands on the road waiting for Peter to catch up to him before they move off together into the distant light.  

The road is not easy and there are dangerous points to cross before they reach the beautiful bluebell fields in the distance. In the left hand corner sits Sparky, Peter's beloved little dog. She is very old but not yet ready to take the road, so she waits till her time comes to cross over the river and join her master.  

It was such an honour for me to paint this picture for you, Bridget and every brushstroke was made with all my love.  

May the blessings of light be upon you, 
Light without and light within, 
And in all your comings and goings, 
May you ever have a kindly greeting 
From them you meet along the road.  

May the road rise to meet you. 
May the wind be always at your back. 
May the sun shine warm upon your face. 
May the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Art Courses: 2010

The program of 2010 art courses are posted on my website as well as news about student exhibitions, the working studio and art suppliers. So, if you have the time, pop in to take a look. 

There are also special one week painting holiday courses next year - only two for the year - so if you are interested, please book early as the courses fill up very quickly.

I am very happy about the easels and daylight simulation lamps!! Now we can paint away the dark, rainy winter days.

These lamps are absolutely wonderful to work with and each student has his/her own lamp. The painting you see to above is one that I am still working on and hopefully will be finished this year.

With one more six week course to go and a short Christmas Gifts course left this year, I decided to post the 2010 program early as this years courses are almost full.  I had to postpone the six week course to start on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October due to surgery I have to undergo next week. I have just been so busy with very little time to post on my blog and I apologise for the neglect .

But, I am looking forward so much to the next course starting with lots of new exciting ideas for my students to work on! 

The last course was portrait painting and they were brilliant! I am so proud of my students!!!
Their 2009 works will all be displayed during our February "Art is for Everyone" exhibition. Hope you can be there!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"European Otter" - oil painting

Oils on canvas (40×40cm)

I worked on this painting, on and off, for almost two years and now I think I am satisfied that it is finished.

This cute little creature is an European Otter and the painting depicts the moment before he slips into the water again. I love the cheeky look on his adorable little face.

ISPCA Otter Sanctuary was opened in May 2007 in County Longford, Ireland due to the declining numbers of otters in Ireland. May their good work be successful!

The European Otter’s diet mainly consists of fish but can also include birds, insects, frogs, crustaceans and sometimes small mammals, including young beavers.

In general this opportunism means they may inhabit any unpolluted body of freshwater, including lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds, as long as there is good supply of food.

European Otters are strongly territorial, living alone for the most part. The territories are only held against members of the same sex, and so those of males and females may overlap.

Males and females will breed at any time of the year, and mating takes place in water. After a gestation period of about 63 days, one to four pups are born, which remain dependent on the mother for a year.

The male plays no direct role in parental care, although the territory of a female with her cubs is usually entirely within that of the male. Hunting mainly takes place at night, while the day is usually spent in the European Otter’s holt (den) – usually a burrow or hollow tree on the riverbank which can sometimes only be entered from under water.

The European Otter declined across its range in the second half of the 20th century primarily due to pollution from pesticides such as organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls .

Other threats included habitat loss and hunting, both legal and illegal European Otter populations are now recovering in many parts of Europe for example in Britain the number of sites with an otter presence increased by 55% between 1994 and 2002.

Recovery is partly due to a ban on the most harmful pesticides that has been in place across Europe since 1979, partly to improvements in water quality leading to increases in prey populations, and partly to direct legal protection under the European Union Habitats Directive and national legislation in several European countries.

In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170. They are listed as Near Threatened by the 2001 IUCN Red List. (Wikipedia)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dressing for Art?

Is it art or do some people just dress for the part? I have seen some really wacky people (they call themselves 'artists') - the work they do speaks for itself - they seem to take more time dressing the part than doing the art! Anyway, its a funny world sometimes and there is a place for all of us. 

I am probably 'wacky' as well as I really don't care much for dressing up and always wear paint splattered clothes although I am quite a neat artist - the occasional splatter happens to the best of us. And I hate shoes. Winters in Ireland means I must wear shoes (or at least walk on socks when I am at home). However, summer time is shoeless time and my toes love the feeling of freedom. 

I always joke that I have feet like a Landrover's tyres! Broad with great tread and enough strength in my toes to hang out of a tree like our primate ancestors. Its a sin to constrict them in shoes.

Back to art. 

I have not had lots of time to paint over the last few months as teaching keeps me busy all the time. But I always have several works in progress which means that now and again I can upload new works. 

I am working on several wildlife paintings which always take a long time to finish - and so they should! Oil paints are wonderful but slow to dry so I love jumping around and choosing different things to paint - I could never paint the same thing again as my boredom threshold just won't allow it.  Oh and I must extol the wonderful properties of Rembrandt oils! Wow... I have been using them for some time now and just cannot get enough of the absolute brilliance of the colours and texture! 

So, what am I working on every spare moment when I am not teaching? Hah!
A polar bear (close to finish)
Rhino and baby
Huge male lion (close to finish)
Fighting springbuck rams
A five face portrait for my teaching class
A shop scene in Kilrush (very complicated and great fun)
A building in Kilrush (so far only the drawing complete)
Boat scene in Kilrush
An otter (almost finished)

So, when you don't see me so often, you know what I am doing! Oh, I just thought of something else to paint... I hope I live long enough to finish them all!!

"Thirsty Elephants" - Oil Painting

Oils on canvas (20×30 inches)

I have been working on this painting for a very long time (probably more than a year – on and off) and I always found something more to do. (Artist’s dilemma – never knowing when to stop!!!)

But now I think there is nothing more I can do without ‘over-doing’ so this painting is now finished!

Poaching significantly reduced the population of elephants in certain regions during the 20th century. The use of elephant tusks (ivory) is still greedily being sought by stupid and irresponsible humans. During my visit to an elephant sanctuary in South Africa one of the wonderful keepers explained that we no longer have the huge, magnificent ‘tuskers’ as hunters virtually wiped out the gene pool.

"Sailing past Scattery Island, Kilrush, Ireland" - oil painting

Oils on a round linen canvas. I had lots of fun painting this view of a boat/yacht sailing past Scattery Island, Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland.

The view is of the ancient ruins of the church and round tower on Scattery Island.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We must appreciate every day

My heart breaks for my dearest friend who lost her beloved so tragically July 16 2009. I will never find the words to say how much I feel her sadness but can only be there for her whenever she needs me. Death does not always give us the chance to say goodbye.

An Irish Prayer

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.

Sermon written by Henry Scott Holland

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kilrush From the Marina - Oil Painting

Oils on canvas. A different view of Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Laura" - Oil Painting

Oils on canvas 40 x 50cm

Portrait of Laura, a beautiful young lady and I feel very honoured to have painted her.

Thank you to Dalia of

If you would like to commission me to paint that special person or pet in your life, just send me an email for information.

"Tiger Pool" - Oil Painting

Oils on canvas 50 by 70cm

I have been working on this painting for several months. At last, it is finished. After visiting SA and seeing these beautiful animals at Jukani, I am inspired to paint them.

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a member of the Felidae family; the largest of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera. Native to much of eastern and southern Asia, the tiger is an apex predator and an obligate carnivore. Reaching up to 4 metres (13 ft) in total length and weighing up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds), the larger tiger subspecies are comparable in size to the biggest extinct felids. Aside from their great bulk and power, their most recognizable feature is the pattern of dark vertical stripes that overlays near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts. The largest subspecies of tiger is the Siberian tiger.

They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are endemic to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans. Of the eight subspecies of modern tiger, two are extinct and the remaining six are classified as endangered, some critically so. The primary direct causes are habitat destruction and fragmentation, and hunting.

Portrait of Boetie - Oil Painting

A portrait in oils of my darling doggy, Boetie.

He is a rescued dog (5 years old now!) and we got him when he was 8 months old. His first months were spent in an atrocious puppy farm and it took him a long while to trust us.

Now, he is a real character and, although he still has 'issues', he is the boss of us.

Love him to bits and when he looks at me like that with his big brown eyes, I will give him the world!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cheetah Humour

I took these photo's of two cheetahs lying in the shade on a very hot, dusty day at a game reserve on the East Coast of South Africa.

They could not be bothered with us and seemed to be sharing a little private joke!

"Have you heard the one about?......"

Back in Ireland

South Africa - land of splendour

Dear Friends

And so we are home again after the most wonderful holiday in South Africa. There are so many stories to tell and I took tonnes of photo’s which I must still work through. My new camera worked like crazy!!

To make a very long story really short:

We landed in Cape Town in the midst of a heat wave!!! From light snowfall in Ireland to 40 degrees – well, it was quite a shock to the system!

Absolutely wonderful to see the family again after 6 years and we had so much to share and talk about.

After the first few days, we took to the road and traveled up route 62!! I had almost forgotten just how beautiful the majestic mountains, countryside, orchards and vineyards are. Our eyes were like sponges, soaking in every detail.

From Oudtshoorn to Mossel Bay, George, Nysna, Plett, Stormrivier, staying over at each town to enjoy all the activities, from swinging in the tree tops of Tsitsikama to walking with elephants! Game reserves and animal santuaries – long walks at Keurboomstrand and steep climbs up to the suspension bridge at Stormsrivier.

So many things we saw and did and enjoyed the lovely, HOT sunshine on our skins. The last few days we traveled way across the land to the West Coast and then back to Cape Town and spend more time with the family.

The people are so friendly and it was wonderful to hear our language again!

The downside (unfortunately) – people live in their own prisons! High fences and security systems is the reality of living in South Africa. How terribly sad that so much beautiful is ruined by humans.

When I have more time, I will tell you about some of our adventures and upload photo's! And what fun we had!!!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Irish Girl Making Butter - oil painting

Oils on canvas (40 x 40 cm)

Painting depicting an Irish servant girl making butter in her rich master's house. (County Antrim).

I had a very old blurry photo to work from and quickly grew fed up from looking at the photo. So, I let my imagination take over and created my own 'scene' using items from my house and a huge amount of artistic license.

I spent some time researching old kitchens of the Victorian era so in went the old cast iron stove, copper pots and utensils and the cupboard in the passage. I made the doorway smaller, added a flagstone floor and one night, as I was painting away, my doggy sat watching me. He was so cute that he ended up in the painting as well!

Oils are so lovely to work with... you can change the entire look with a few strokes of the brush or the rub of a finger. I tried to do this painting in the style of the old Masters.

What I love about the old Masters is how no detail was left out. The clutter of everyday life is so much a part of the fun of painting this scene. I had to use a magnifying glass for certain objects so it is no wonder that I have been working on this painting for over two years.

Lilac Snow - oil painting

Oils on canvas.

This painting was done with just four colours: alizarin crimson, prussian blue, raw umber and white.

The painting of the Marshland (below) also has a limited palette:
alizarin crimson, vermillion, lemon yellow, white and raw umber on black gessoed canvas.

Monday, February 16, 2009

News about the exhibition

Dear friends, you may have noticed my absence over the last days and I do apologise for not being able to keep up with everything here. I have been so busy lately with the exhibition and art courses.

The exhibition opening on Thurs 12 was a great success. Approximately 100 people turned up and it was absolutely wonderful for my students to see all the interest. Their paintings were gorgeous and I am bursting with pride. On the opening night, 8 paintings were sold and up to now, 11 paintings are marked with the little red dot (meaning ‘sold’).

What an incredible boost for all these wonderful new artists!!!

My ‘Dolphin Wave’ painting was raffled and the end amount came to 678 euro – which was handed over to the Kilrush Lifeboat Station. I wish them all the best and thank everyone who participated in the exhibition and raffle.

I am exhausted but very happy and should any of you be in the vicinity of Kilrush, you can see their beautiful paintings in the library up till the 27th February.

At the same time, the art courses are still keeping me busy as well, thus my long absences.

In March, we hope to vist South Africa (the first time in 6 years) and I am looking forward to seeing my family again after such a long time.

Now, if only the days could be longer. Or maybe, I am just getting older and slower because it is becoming harder to fit everyting into one day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Art is for Everyone Exhibiton

The Art is for Everyone concept was born one evening when I was showing a few friends some of my oil painting techniques that I taught myself over several years. They suggested that I should offer oil painting art courses as they learnt so much in a short time and had lots of fun as well.

At first I only did one day courses but gradually the course evolved into weekend and six week courses where I taught different oil painting techniques, from wet on wet to more classical glazing and monotone techniques.

The courses are now so popular and my students are painting amazing works of art. From animals to portraits, landscapes and seascapes. The majority of them have NEVER painted before!!!!

I never would have thought that I could enjoy teaching so much. The groups have also become a wonderful social network and everyone who joins in become a member of the 'family'.

And so, we will be having our first exhibition of oil paintings in the Kilrush Library from 12 February to 27 February 2009. Well done to all my wonderful students! I am so proud of your accomplishments.

If you are in Kilrush, County Clare, please pop in to the library while the exhibition is on and take a look at their beautiful art.

The opening night will be on the 12th February at 8:00pm (20h00) and everyone is welcome to come along and meet my wonderful group of artists.

One of my paintings, "Dolphin Wave" will be raffled and the drawing will take place on the opening night of the exhibition.

Proceeds from this painting will be donated to the RNLI Kilrush in appreciation for the wonderful work they do, saving lives and always ready and on call.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Killrush - Cill Rois" - Oil Painting

Oils on canvas – (24×20 inches)

This painting took several months to complete as I tried to paint it as accurately as possible, using a magnifying glass for certain areas.

Kilrush is a lovely town, a few miles from where I live – friendly people, home of Mrs Crotty’s (pub well known for Irish traditional music) and the Vandeleur Gardens. (Vandeleur was the infamous landlord who evicted Irish tenants… see history below)

This view is of the bridge with the beautiful, historic church in the background and a few of the buildings known as Merchant’s Quay.

Left: part of the painting - little miniature cars in front of Merchant's Quay.

CILL ROIS, meaning the church of the promontory or woods has existed since the 16th century but it was not until the 18th century that it underwent major development. This development coincided with the succession of John Ormsby Vandeleur as the wealthiest landlord in the district. Of Dutch origin, the Vandeleur Family was the most prominent landlord family in West Clare. They designed the layout of the town and many of the present day street names derive from Vandeleur family names.

John Ormsby Vandeleur built the large family home, Kilrush House in 1808 and by that stage he practically owned Kilrush. With wealth achieved from a financially beneficial marriage and some political skulduggery, he decided to develop the town. A Scots businessman James Patterson, who had been a gunboat lieutenant until 1802, assisted him in this project. Patterson entered the oats trade in West Clare and in 1802 he got a site on the square from Vandeleur and erected a six-storey building.

However the famine years (1845-1849) brought much hardship to Kilrush. Famine, evictions, fever and cholera reduced the population of south-west Clare to such an extent that it never attained its pre famine numbers. In the post famine era, the Vandeleur name became synonymous with the worst of landlord evictions, with over 20,000 evicted in the Kilrush Union. The Kilrush workhouse witnessed terrible deprivation and deaths. By that stage Hector Vandeleur had succeeded John Ormsby Vandeleur.

Kilrush however survived these setbacks and with the arrival of the West Clare railway towards the end of the 19th century, developed into a bustling market town, the spirit of which lasts today. The designation of Kilrush as a Heritage Town recognises its legacy as a landlord estate town with a rich maritime and market tradition.

Monday, January 26, 2009

County Clare Photographs

A few photographs of beautiful County Clare, Ireland, taken with my Nikon D60...
I am still learning how to use this lovely camera. I hope you enjoy the photo's!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Dolphin Wave" - oil painting

Oils on canvas (20×24 inches)

Dolphins are wonderful animals to watch as they play in the waves. I blurred them slightly to give the impression of speed as they break through the water.

This is a sight familiar to the wonderful people of the RNLI Kilrush as they go out in all weathers, risking their own lives to rescue people in trouble on the sea.

The proceeds from this painting will be donated to the RNLI Kilrush in appreciation for the wonderful work they do, saving lives and always ready and on call! The painting will be sold by raffle leading up to an art exhibition which takes place on the 12th February 2009 at the Kilrush Library.

I thought the subject would be appropriate as dolphins have a reputation for saving humans as well. Unfortunately, there are countries and people who do not show the same respect for these magnificent animals. Let us hope that a day will come when both humans and animals who play such important roles in our lives will receive the honours and respect they all deserve.

Wedding Portrait - oil on canvas

Oils on canvas (50×70cm) (sold)

Portrait commissioned by Maura as a surprise Christmas gift for her son and daughter-in-law. And, Maura says, they were indeed very pleasantly surprised as a portrait of their wedding of years ago was the last thing they would have thought of.

I am very pleased and honoured that Maura chose me to paint this portrait!!