Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hospital Waiting Room

So we're back at mom's apartment. Yesterday was spent at the hospital, with her having her appendix out. For me, it was time spent at a variety of "hurry-up-and -wait" activities that pretty much lasted all day. After I had read magazines, a book that didn't hold my interest, had lunch in the hospital cafeteria, and chocolate and caffeine from the hospital gift shop, I decided it was time for a quick sketch right where I was sitting. Surely they would be calling me back to the recovery room soon. 

Any way, just as I was putting away my paints & little sketchbook, they called me back. Today mom is doing pretty well, at least so far so good. It will take a bit of time for total recovery. So we'll take one day at a time & hope all goes well. 

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Ladies View, Killarney National Forest, Ireland

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here.

I've been back home for a week and a half now. Lots of things going on here at home, birthdays for me and my hubby, which is always fun- we tend to celebrate for the both of us all week!  The latest "twist in family life" is that my mom (80+ years old) needs an least it's not an emergency and they had time to schedule this, so I'll be going down to FL to stay with her during this episode! 

My visit to Ireland flew by so quickly! I really did savor each day.  The weather was quite beautiful and was the sunniest I'd ever spent over there! On Wednesday of our week there, our group went over to Killarney National Forest. In the morning we stopped at Ross Castle.  I had never been in to tour the place, though I had seen the outside a few times.  So rather than setting up my oil painting rig that morning, I took the tour of the castle, and still had a bit of time to get a quick sketch in my watercolor sketchbook!

After lunch in Killarney, we went through the National Forest to Ladies View, our painting spot for the afternoon.  Brilliantly sunny, the cloud shadows on the mountains were changing constantly, as was the light effects.  But it was quite an interesting challenge. I determined I wanted to get the big shapes down quickly as the light effects were changing quite rapidly, this first painting is almost abstract in its view and effect (shown at the top of this post).  By the time I finished this one, I still had some time left for another start. The light had changed a bit more in this same view, a short while later. I wanted to experiment with these two pieces since I had the time and location to do so. The first one was done with almost all brush, the second with almost all palette knife.  The experiment was interesting for me.   
(For more information or to purchase this view, 
"Ladies View, II", please click here. )
I really enjoyed coming back to this familiar view. It's been painted by thousands of artists from all over the world, it's quite an amazing view, in any season, any weather. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Skellig Experience - continuing the Irish Travels Tale

4"x9.75" watercolor on rough 140lb. paper.
For more information, or to purchase, click here. Plein air view of Little Skellig and Skellig Michael from our host's home, "Art on the Ring of Kerry" with Barbara Mastaglio.

On Tuesday, during our Irish painting expedition the weather and seas were fine enough to take the journey off shore to visit Skellig Michael.  The small boat ride out is not bad at all, but the trip to the top can be a bit precarious. This place looks like a pyramid shaped rock roughly 7-10 miles off the coast of Ireland from Valentia Island. A visitor center called, "The Skellig Experience" shows a film about what you are about to see and experience, and is one of the places you can catch a boat out to the skellig.  Once you're out there, there's no 'messing about'.  This was my fifth or sixth trip out there (jeez, I've lost count now), and they currently have added a guide to meet you near the base of the rock to let you know that not everyone has to climb up there to experience the place. After all, it IS quite steep, there are about 700 steps to the top (who's counting?!) and it IS a strenuous trip up there.  Many in our group chose to stay near the base of the skellig- that gave them about an hour or so to sketch.  You really can't take much with you out there as you don't want a lot of weight to drag up those stairs if you choose to take the trip up. You DO need to be 'hands free' for what ever you decide to take, a VERY small back-pack/day-pack or cross-body strapped bag is about all that you would want to have with you. Just enough to hold your camera, a bottle of water to drink (note- there IS NO restroom). On the various trips out there I've found that while the trip across the water can be cool or windy, once you're at the top within the place where the monks lived, it's almost like a warm little micro-climate. You'll be peeling off your layers and tying them around your waist. 
So - mid-way up, it looks like this:
 You start to think the stairs will never end. There are twists and turns in some places. Some years I've been it didn't seem too tough (and I was younger then!). 
If you go in June, the puffins are still nesting there, and are a most amazing thing to see!! (this photo from one of my previous trips out there)
Their nests are all over this rock of an island, and every where along the path you are climbing to the top. 

You'll hear them, they sound like a miniature power saw! Click on this link and scroll down to "Sounds" .
 Now, nature isn't everything you'll see here, although that in itself is pretty amazing! Once you've made the climb to the top, an ancient monastic site with ancient stone beehive huts awaits you. 

The history of this place is quite amazing.  Guides await your arrival to help you understand what you are seeing. 
Now,  this seems like the kind of place with enough interest to keep you focused all day, but if you've made the climb to the top, you don't have time to linger. The tides wait for no man! (or painters, climbers, sketchers, etc).  Remember, there are no facilities on this place (no lav, loo, potty, tidy toilet, etc), and your boat captain is awaiting his turn to pull in to the rock step to pick you up.  Most of the boats wait just off the skellig, some a bit closer in!
 um, yeah, remember to not look down over the edge! (gulp, seriously!) You don't want to end up like one of the monks (not on this trip anyways!
Once you are safely back on your boat, say good-bye to the island as it gets smaller in your line of vision.
and keep your eyes pealed as your captain takes the boat close to Little Skellig.  You might spot a seal lounging on the rocks, as the waves crash around the island.  

Above, gannets with their huge wing span soar.  Some are lining the sides, all in rows, stacks and rows of birds!  All that white stuff? yep, bird poop. hmm. But who needs to know that? The 'keyholes' and caves in the rock lend an air of great mystery!
Gradually, the islands become two big pyramids in the ocean as we head back home.
A kayaker followed our boat in for a short while in the channel, until he could no longer keep up!
As we come closer to the pier on Valentia Island, at the "Skellig Experience" you'll pass by the old telegraph houses, where the workers lived who laid the first transAtlantic telegraph cable. (and now this telegraph field is for sale, check that link!).   So yes, there was life before cell-phones! 
So there you have it- a condensed version tour of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit this next summer with me! Click on this link to find out a bit more about my workshop next summer on Valentia Island!  

A day at sea (and a climb like that) takes a LOT out of a painter, so I opted to make a couple water-color post-card sketches. We set up on the lawn outside of "Skellig-Experience" which over looks the channel between Valentia Island and the mainland- which is the beautiful fishing village of Portmagee. Right across the way fishing boats were coming in. Colorful buildings make up the main street along the waterfront. Bridge Bar was calling our names, "Dinner, Guinness, Harp, chowder, fresh fish" etc. Well, you get the idea.  We were sitting in the sun, but a quick drop in temperature at the end of a long days adventure made us more hungry than ever!
   I'll be drawing the names of two blog subscribers tonight -to receive a post-card done on location that day.  I'll post the names as soon as I have the winners permission! Thanks for following along on the adventure! I do hope you'll join me next summer! Please take some time to peruse Barbara Mastaglio's website for "Art on the Ring of Kerry". This is such a wonderful place to visit, Barbara makes you feel like a local! And on top of all that, I'll be teaching palette knife technique as well as "decision making for plein air painting", with demos, talks, and personal critiques of your work.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Come to Ireland With Me!! (and how NOT to get busted in security!)

Ruins at Ballinskelligs, 8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel - for more information or to purchase, click here.

Ah, where to begin? I'll try to continue to fill you in with all the stories of this adventure- On my arrival to Shannon Airport on Sept. 1st, I was meeting up with three other ladies from CT, one whom I know (Jill) and two others that I hadn't met yet.  We had arranged to hire a van to take the four of us the three hour drive from Shannon to Valentia Island.  We stopped in Adare, which is halfway to our destination, for a bite to eat.  By our arrival to Valentia for our "meet and greet"  I had several new artist friends, three more attendees came in from Virginia!  It was my sixth time to return to Barbara Mastaglio's artist retreat there on Valentia Island. It's a wonderful place and she is a great one to introduce you to that area of County Kerry, Ireland! (so much so that now I'm starting to feel like a local!).

Monday morning we painted out in Knightstown, I did get a blog post in that day (scroll down for previous posts),  though I still wonder where I got the energy as each day was filled to the max! Most of us painted at the pier - as it's on a "corner" spit of land with so many great views - boats, the mainland in the distance, a quaint village, a fanciful clock tower, it's a painters paradise! After choosing to paint their local coast guard boat in its bright orange and blue, I had some time to photograph some additional interesting places in the village. I think I have some great photo references!

Before heading over to the light house and Dohilla for more painting in the afternoon, we stopped for lunch at Barbara's retreat.  Food with a view, can it get any better? Okay- it was- food with a view in the company of fellow artist friends!! Super! Here's Maureen waiting for us to join her for lunch on the patio! The Atlantic Ocean to the west of us, Dingle Bay to the north of us, Portmagee channel and village south of us, and horses grazing to the east of us!

So, without further ado- I can't wait to tell you- I'm offering a workshop at this wonderful place next summer! You can get the quick info at this link for "Art on the Ring of Kerry".  You'll want to claim your spot pronto as there is limited room!  It's a wonderful opportunity to feel like a local (take it from one who has returned to this magical place many times), I'd hate for you to miss out on this! 

I'll be teaching palette knife technique, but will help those who prefer brushes as well- mainly on how to deal with the 'predicaments' of plein air painting - getting your initial concept into a composition, how to get the 'vastness of all that Irish green' into a small format (ie. 8x10), how to simplify what you are seeing in order to make those decisions quicker (so that you can finish that painting in about 2 hours). The Irish landscape presents challenges every day- learning those concepts here will prepare you for ANYTHING!
Here I am with my favorite painting hat, lunch sack and camera bag (knowing full-well I could have lightened that load), and my fellow painter friend Jill on Skellig Michael.  It's an ancient monastic site 10 miles off shore (and a UNESCO World Heritage site)....and seven hundred steps atop a huge pointy rock in the North Atlantic!! (what were those guys thinking?). I'll continue that part of the story in tomorrow's post! Until then, Ireland's calling you....come for a visit and paint with me next summer! 

oh've read this far & might be wondering, "Okay, so where's the part about being busted in airport security"?  Well, SOMEONE in our group of painters changed around all their brilliant packing in order to make sure the Skelligs Chocolate was put in the carry-on along with the wet paintings (my two high priority items)....somehow my brush carrier fit in there as well.   My checked bag was getting quite overloaded after purchasing a couple books and woollen items. So, I was quite surprised when they pulled me aside and asked to open my carry-on bag..."sure, but you can't have my chocolate" I responded. They DID ask what was in the grey box (wet paintings), then they pulled out my fabric roll of brushes, which included palette knives for painting.  "And what are these???" the older security guard asked of me.
  "Painting knives, palette knives for painting" I just blurted out. 
"I'll have to ask my supervisor about these, they look dangerous".
Ugh, I can't believe it, attach the word knife to anything and I'm sure it's considered a weapon, even though the whole tip is flexible.  Perhaps if I had called them PAINT SPREADERS instead, I'd still have them.  Time to head back to the art supply store, I'm out roughly $40 in supplies for 3 'paint spreaders' and a pair of pliers (for removing sticky paint tube lids).  The pliers made it into Ireland, but not going back out.  I can't imagine what they thought I'd do with that (maybe pull out someones teeth with it??).  Well, you can rest assured you are safe on Aer Lingus from the likes of me! 

If I hadn't been distracted by CHOCOLATE I would have had the common sense to put the whole brush carrier in my checked luggage, and I wouldn't be needing a trip to the art supply store! I'll remember that next summer!   

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

St. Finian's Bay - SOLD! and your invitation to Ireland!

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

St. Finian's Bay is one of my favorite places to paint.  First of all, it usually involves a trip to the Skellig Chocolate factory, just across the street, close by.  Secondly, it has a wonderful beach where really tough, brAve hearty souls go to swim and surf! I've been there on cloudy days, misty days, and sunny days (and of course days that have every weather event involved...and it's always beautiful!  This one sold at our "Wet Painting Sale" on Valentia Island, to a repeat collector who lives on the island. 

It was a WONDERFUL week! Barbara Mastaglio, our host for planning our week through Valentia Island Art Retreats knows this region so well, keeps us painting at some really great locations! 

Mary and Jim Lane, who own and run Shealane B&B do a superb job of keeping us well fed and rested, and keep us headed in the right direction with any question we might have.  This was my sixth time over to visit and paint, Mary and Jim have become like family.  And Barbara I would claim for a sister at any time.

We do hope you'll join us next summer - I'll be offering a workshop there. You'll gain great tips on improving your decision making skills in the great outdoors, make faster and stronger starts to your painting, so you'll have that roadmap to a great finish.  Learn to strengthen your composition for a truly compelling painting, and "finding your voice" in your painting career.

I've just finished downloading all my photos from the adventure- and I'll share them here on the blog. You'll also hear it from me, what I got snagged in security for! (and it wasn't a pile of rocks)!   

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Dohilla Rock and Wave Study - SOLD!

8x10" oil on linen mounted on panel

Monday afternoon we went to Dohilla, down on the road to the lighthouse. On the drive down, we stopped to pick some wild blackberries, what a treat!  I've painted the lighthouse there many times, but I really was in the mood to do a study of rocks and crashing waves.  The month of September is so beautiful in September.   The  weather is delightful temperature-wise, and so many wildflowers are blooming!

Life and Love in Ireland

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on panel

Contact me via email to purchase this painting. Will be shown at the "Wet Painting Show & Sale" on Valentia Island this Saturday, September 6th, 2013,,,,unless you claim it now.

This morning we were out painting in Knightstown on Valentia Island, Ireland. How could I resist painting the Life Guard Rescue boat...vibrant out there in the water? As I was working, another lobster boat went by, tossing their traps out over the side.  Always a lot of action out here on the water even on "quiet" days!