New year, new outlook, new painting

I like to welcome the new year with a new painting and this year is no different. I spent the morning of new year’s day planting climbing roses and clearing up in my garden, then was driven indoors and spent a few hours up in my attic studio starting a new work in progress, a glass of red on the table, as rain beat against the roof tiles. I love such afternoons.

Last new year’s day I started my painting “The Kelpies”, which I really love, with its filtering light and its supernatural sub-aqua magical realism theme. You can see it below…

This year I’ve thought about what I loved most about The Kelpies and what I would change. I’m still drawn to the filtering, dappling light of underwater and feel like I could spend the whole of 2022 and beyond painting underwater scenes. That’s why my new work in progress picks up on the light and colour and kelp of the Kelpies. And whilst I’m hoping for a touch of magic, this painting will be rooted in realism, but that wonderful other-worldly realism that you find beneath the waves.

It’s very early days and there is much magic still to be added with more and more layers of pastel. But here’s the progress so far after a few rainy hours on new year’s day.

Work in progress – so huge it won’t all fit on my easel. 70cm x 100cm
a little seal who will be half- hidden in the sea kelp

Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm, pastel on card, 50cm x 50cm

I’ve been playing with this piece for a few weeks, just for me, in between other commitments. I found it much harder than I expected and even now that I’ve finished and walked away from it, there are things I love and things I don’t love about it.

I’m not sure that it photographs well, but when I went up to my studio tonight to start on a new painting, i forgot this was on my easel and i was surprised at how striking it is in real life.

It’s quite big, 50cm x 50cm. Originally I was going to call it Last of the Light but its become Gathering Storm in my head.

Here’s how it came about:

Swan Lake, framed

Two of my favourite things about painting are:

  • Watching the transformation that happens when a really good framer works their magic on my art; and
  • When somebody falls in love with one of my paintings. It’s a privilege to have my work hang in someone’s home and it makes me happy if it brings them pleasure.

And this weekend I got to experience both of these – the excitement of picking up the newly framed Swan Lake and the pleasure of passing it on to its new owner. Here’s how that went 😊

Swan Lake, pastel on card, 50 x 70 cm
Happy new owner
And finally, in situ in its new home

Cosy cushions in time for Christmas…

I’m excited to have a new small range of luxury vegan suede cushions to offer on my shop page.

These make perfect Christmas presents, or why not treat yourself.

So comfortable and luxurious to touch – each is made out of vegan suede and includes filler. They work as individuals or why not pair them up to make a set.

Sunshine on a cloudy day

I’ve been racing the onset of winter with this latest project to transform a wooden gazebo…


…into a perpetually sunny, coastal themed summer-house, and finally finished last weekend.


I’m pleased with the results which combine traditional postcard scenes on the outside panels with a more ethereal internal vibe of airy sky- blue walls and ceilings complete with graceful swooping arctic terns.

So the finished product should brighten even the dullest of Northern Ireland winters for years to come. But this was no easy task – i spent hours painting contorted into all shapes – lying on my side, or kneeling, or cross-legged till my muscles ached; or standing atop a ladder, bending backwards to paint above me (kudos, Michaelangelo – you were made of sterner stuff than me)

But it’s all worth it to see the finished transformation – here’s a video of how it went –

Swan Lake (finished)

I’m happy to finally lay the pastels down on this painting of the swans at Lough Neagh.

It’s been challenging to paint but i just find the light so mesmerising and the swans so dramatic against the evening sky.

It’s also been a bit of a learning curve – working towards what o thought was the finished composition only to return to it and change the shoreline so it curves round at the bottom right hand corner and so extends the diagonal reach across the image. I’m much happier with version 2 of the finished painting.

Hopefully going off to be framed this week before going to its new home, although i hope to have a few prints available on the shop page soon.

Swan Lake, 50 x 70 cm, pastel on card

Swan Lake

August was busy.

I only managed to get one painting done (see my previous post about standing on the shoulders of giants for my painting of Northern Ireland’s beautiful Giant’s Causeway – better still, come visit the Causeway itself!) – I’m a bit disappointed in myself

The good news is I think I’m now starting to recover from the stresses of August and able to carve out some more time for art (which always equates to ‘Me Time’).

September has landed with its back to school feel. The days are shorter, the evenings longer and the lure of my attic studio is stronger than ever.

I find myself drawn to those ‘turn of the seasons’type scenes and have finally immersed myself in a new work in progress that I’ve been planning since springtime – the working title is “Swan Lake” and its of the swans at Antrim Forum, on the shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, captured at that magical moment when daylight turns to twilight.

Swan Lake, pastel on card, 50cm x 70cm

I’m loving the light and the reflections, the graceful curve of the birds’ necks and the trees silhouetted against the sky.

What I’m not loving, it turns out, is the challenge of keeping the whites and creams crisp against a dark blue lough with a medium as mobile and unstable and frankly smudgy as pastel. It’s been a challenge, though I’m excited to see it coming together and I’m looking forward to posting the final image which will be available to buy as a limited edition print later in the season.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Giants Causeway, 40cm x 30cm, pastel on card

Growing up in Northern Ireland, one of the first things that you learn in school and in life is that there’s more to this world than meets the eye. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s enchantment all around – the landscape has been etched by fairies and folklore (don’t cut down a hawthorn tree or the fairies will seek vengeance) and giants once roamed the earth.

Whichever version of history you lean towards the Giants Causeway on the Antrim Coast mesmerises. Visually stunning it dramatically holds its own against a dizzying midday sun or wild January seas and skies.

Geology is no less dramatic than legend, the Causeway was born in the turmoil of volcanic eruption and molten rocks that cooled to set into over 40,000 basalt columns, set together like pieces of a jigsaw.

However every school child knows the real story is of angry giants, with Irish giant Finn McCool building the causeway to go fight his Scottish rival, Benadonner. Don’t believe me? Go check out the huge rock boot and chair and organ pipes left as evidence.

Whilst the Giants Causeway attracts millions of tourists from across the world, it’s engrained in my mind as a place of childhood holidays. Blue skies, sunny days, scrambling one slippery rocks and scree, climbing the cliff path and icecream afterwards.

There’s a photo of me, aged about 8, with my sister, my cousin and my lovely, much loved Aunt Jean (who we lost much too soon, nearly 30 years ago). We’re perched on this basalt columns, blinking into the sun, Aunt Jean’s arms around us, warm rocks at our backs. It’s a happy memory and as I’ve been working on this and the painting has emerged into life the memory of that photograph, and that childhood day out has taken hold and become a driver. It’s what i see now and think of when i look at this painting, a perfect memory that is tinged with love and loss and the feeling of warm sun baked rocks.

The painting is a commission. I plan to make some prints so watch out for those on my shop page.

In the meantime here’s the final framed painting. Thanks

New framed original paintings available

If there is anything I love more than seeing my paintings come to life, it’s seeing how they are transformed by a really skilled framer. So I was really so excited to go collect these two newly-framed paintings as my Friday treat last week.

I use a local framer in a nearby town who works magic on my art with a total midas touch – highly skilled, highly qualified and highly recommend if you’re local – you can find out more here:

SPOILER ALERT – my photos just aren’t going to do these justice (I’ve been struggling to avoid the window reflections (I know there is a way to do this… I just haven’t worked it out).

Anyway, I’ve fallen in love all over again with these two paintings which are now available to buy on my shop page (with limited edition giclées of Turn of the Seasons also available).

Turn of the Seasons

A stunning painting of Belfast Lough from Ballyholme Beach (Northern Ireland) captured at twilight at the autumn eqinox. The painting itself is 50cm x 70cm, beautifully framed in a bespoke, handmade distressed charcoal grey wooden frame, with white inner frame, glazed and with double mount.

The Kelpies

This is a truly magical painting in rich aqua colours, capturing dappled underwater light filtering down through a kelp forest onto the sea floor. It combines realism with mythology to also suggest the shape-shifting kelpies of Celtic mythology.

Again the image is in pastel and measures 50cm x 70cm. It’s beautifully framed in a bespoke, handmade white wooden frame, glazed and with double mount.

Honestly, I should be working but I’m mesmerised by both of these and can’t stop staring at them 😊

2 new landscape prints now in stock

2 new stunning prints of my favourite landscapes available to buy now in my shop page.

Turning Tide, Dundrum Bay

Large #seascape painting of #DundrumBay with #Mournes and dramatic #sky and #sea in soft pastels on Clairefontaine pastelmat board. #seascape #clouds #sea #ocean #NorthernIreland #CountyDown #Mournes #Dundrum #Newcastle #SlieveDonard #Donard #Murlough #summer

This prize-winning painting of Dundrum Bay in full summer sunshine is now available in a choice of striking A1 and A2 sizes.

Turn of the Seasons

Turn of the seasons

This is a dramatic painting of Belfast Lough at twightlight, as seen from Ballyholme Beach. The painting captures a moment, caught between day and night and between changing seasons at autumn equinox. It’s also now available as A1 and A2 sized prints.

Each of these prints comes wrapped in tissue paper and rolled for protection. Less than 50 of each available worldwide.

I hope you enjoy. Check out my online store for these and more.

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