I like to give all my commission, paintings and prints the personal touch. It would amaze you how many don’t fully understand the hours that go into every piece or the logic so it is a privilege to try and get that understanding across. If I was working in a normal day job for the same amount of time I would be earning a lot more but painting isn’t about that, money is not the driving force.
I mostly use photographs to paint from as I am an absolute sucker for detail, but like most artists I use licence by ending up adding or taking away parts to the painting as it evolves. But if a building has 15 windows, each with 12 panes of glass, I will paint 15 windows, each with precisely 12 panes of glass.
I try and evoke as much emotion as I can in my work and I always start by closing my eyes and envisaging what the photograph will be like as a painting…it normally works, sometimes not. My commission pieces are sometimes a different story though as they aren’t what I would necessarily choose to do. If I get an instant chemistry from the subject, I know we are on to a winner but if not, I try and subtly encourage a few tweaks to both our liking as I am a firm believer of giving every piece of my work 100% or it will show in the finished product.
Every painting at the start has me feeling like a beginner until we reach clarity and start to see the potential emerge, I love that moment as it can be a real struggle to get there. I always paint free hand regardless of how rigid or taught parts of the scenes are, all I use are my eyes, brushes and fingers, it’s the only way I know. My work always favours illuminated scenes of colour and light akin to what is familiar to me and I also love the ever changing colours that season’s and weather can bring.
The background of a painting takes shape pretty quickly, but I have to wait for that to dry before I can add the detail. Oils lend themselves to layering, and I add the detail one layer at a time, keeping the finer detail like hands to the very last layer. Each layer must dry before the next one can be applied. This is both a help as mistakes can easily be rectified, and a hindrance as it is impossible to speed up the drying process. I once drew a perfect hand, but gave it 6 fingers and carefully scraping it off and starting the hand again. It was worth it though, I am delighted with the end result.
Painting is such a personal experience, so much of me go goes into every piece, and parting with a painting can be a bittersweet experience, delighted it is going to a forever home, yet sad to see it go. Often it’s a love – hate relationship & a battle of wills between artist and canvas. Sometimes a moment of inspiration can transform a painting.
“Light at the End of the Road” is one of the Bogland Series NW Donegal. Even when it was framed it I still wasn’t happy so paints out again and got to work…
…it doesn’t look quite so lonely now.