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: http://www.saintfieldpictureframing.co.uk/
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.
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 stunning prints of my favourite landscapes available to buy now in my shop page.
Turning Tide, Dundrum Bay
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
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.
Not an art post today but a tribute in celebration of the start of summer and a day’s sailing under sunny, cloud-streaked skies on Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.
Gentle winds, no real agenda, just a vague plan to head up the Lough, enjoy the sights and sounds and snacks and company.
I’ve painted the skies over the Lough before – my painting “Smell the Sea and Feel the Sky” (Van Morrison fans on high alert) was painted here, on a day when the clouds looked dramatically extraterrestrial.
Gentler skies this time, with the sun clearing the haze to leave steaks of white across blue and to reveal the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
A glorious day. This is Northern Ireland, so we don’t take the weather for granted. But for today, summer is here.
I’ve spent my weekend in Dundrum doing a couple of art projects designed to blend the boundary between outdoors and indoors and bring the smell of the ozone and the cries of the seabirds inside.
First was a series of Arctic terns painted directly on a bedroom wall. These birds are such light and dainty, delicate beauties. But watch them do their kamikaze death dives when fishing and you’ll see that they’re actually delicate little killing machines. But here they are swooping around the room, just as they swoop around the skies outside the apartment.
It was typical April weather – albeit in Last May, with sunshine and showers constantly transforming the Bay.
But I did manage to enjoy some plein air painting on the balcony for my second project, which was upcycling this plain console table to a piece of coastal- themed furniture, which now provides the perfect setting for displaying this beautiful model yacht.
I have to admit, when I started this set of seabirds in late February I didn’t expect to still be painting them in mid May. But they’ve seen through the end of winter to the start of the warm weather.
I usually feel a mix of elation, excitement and sadness when I come to the end of a painting project – in the same way you do approaching the end of a book that you’ve loved.
This time is with relief, and a little satisfaction, that I get to set down my pastels and step back. I am tired. And the egret in particular has been a challenge to capture.
However I am pleased. There’s something in each one that I’m proud of. I love the sunlight catching the long shafts of the egret’s feathers; I love how light and delicate the avocet looks against the blurred background; i love the power of the heron; and the luminescence of the cormorant’s plumage.
Those of you who have been following will know that I’ve been working (slowly and with multiple interruptions and distractions) on a commissioned series of four seabirds, based on the local seabirds of Dundrum Bay, County Down in Northern Ireland (which you’ll also have picked up is my favourite place – and for good reason).
Dundrum is a small coastal town with its roots steeped in history as evidenced by its ruined castle, set high on a hill, overlooking the Bay (I THINK this is Norman, possibly built by John de Courcy, but it’s Sunday morning and I’m too lazy to fact-check – sorry).
Dundrum is special, the Bay empties out completely and refills with each tide and sunlight and shadow on the sea and the Mourne Mountains is an assault (in the nicest sense) on your visual senses, with never the same view twice. The beautiful Murlough Nature Reserve edges the Back Beach, with miles of sand dunes, roaming grazing ponies, a resident seal colonies, underground cities of rabbits and ancient towering Scots Pines.
I honestly love this place. But best of all are the birds – in winter we welcome colonies of geese from Canada wintering out the harsh weather. But we are also home to such an array of local seabirds, nesting in those tall Scots Pines – herons, egrets, avocets and cormorants. There are so many other species, but these are the fou who make up my seabird series.
I’m in the home strait- last night I finished my third bird, the cormorant and I’m now turning to my final (and favourite) bird, the beautiful and elegant egret. Here’s the story so far….
I feel like a naughty school child waiting outside the principal’s office to give an account of myself. It’s been at least 6 weeks where painting sadly has been abandoned whilst I have focused on transforming the bottom of my garden from jungle to fairy-lit patio.
I’m so pleased with the results, but now it’s time to re-embrace art.
Thankfully rainy Bank Holiday Mondays were invented for singing along to 80s pop hits in my attic studio whilst tackling number 2 in my 4-seabird series – ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Avocet.
So I’ve completed the large heron and a smaller avocet. Next up is my current work in progress, the cormorant, wings outstretched, drying in the sunshine, before we finish off with the heron’s companion painting, the beautiful white egret, still to come.
After a LOT of procrastination I’ve finally finished the first in my seabird series, the beautiful grey heron taking off.
Honestly, these are my favourite birds. I’ve painted them a lot but this is the first time I’ve captured one in flight. I love their patient poise – with a hint of mystique; and then the epic flap of those massive wings as they take off. They are fabulous creatures.
I’ve said before that i associate these birds with Dundrum Bay in Northern Ireland. This is my happy place – the light, the air, the shore, the mountains – it’s magical. So here’s another gratuitous video clip of Dundrum Bay at evening.
And finally, because this IS an art blog after all, here’s some up- close video footage of my painting
So that’s one down, four to go. Next up will be a stunning egret, who I always think of as the companion bird to the heron. These two will be the two outside paintings of the set, bracketing a cormorant and an avocet in between. Stay tuned….
As I mentioned before I’m working on a series of sea birds that will all share space together – two large paintings of a heron and an egret that will bracket two smaller (but still pretty substantial) paintings of a cormorant and an avocet.
These are all birds that you can see in Dundrum Bay, Northern Ireland which, if you follow me, you’ll know is favourite place of all time ❤.
It’s taking longer than i had imagined to make progress with the set – mainly because of other life distractions. But I’m enjoying seeing the heron come to life. I’ve almost finished the wing in the foreground now and hope to get much of the rest of the detail finished this weekend.
I’m chomping at the bit to tackle the iridescent plumage of the cormorant but for now need to focus on helping this boy to soar.
I’m very excited to be about to start a new themed series of paintings of local #seabirds for a client.
I’ve just finished an architectural commission of an old family home which i know has meant so much and brings so many memories back for that client. Seeing how my paintings impact on clients really means a lot to me and I feel a huge responsibility when i am trying to capture other people’s memories.
However i am excited for this new series.
Birds are some of my favourite subjects to paint – I love the challenge of trying to capture their lightness and “flightness” and the luminescence of light on feathers.
Better still, this series will feature all the birds i can see in my beloved Dundrum (County Down, Northern Ireland), where i spend my #summerholidays every year with family.
Dundrum is definitely my happy place – a peaceful, beautiful and back-to-basics-sand-in- your-toes-in-tune-with-nature haven. I LOVE IT
Anyway, I’m just on the brink of starting the series, so watch this space and in the meantime here are some of my favourites from the birds I’ve already painted – you can see more on my portfolio page, with limited edition prints available to buy in my online shop. I hope you enjoy.