Purple Loosestrife in Wicklow

Purple Loosestrife, watercolor 16" x 20"

Purple Loosestrife, watercolor 16″ x 20″

The remains of Hurricane Bertha was blowing around Ireland a few days ago, and a mighty cold wind she brought with her. In the early morning I went for a stepping-out power walk along Bray Seafront in bright sunshine, brilliant white clouds skidding across the clean blue sky in super-fast motion, white-caps whipped up on the sea, and everything sparkling light and looking spanking new. In wind like this there’ll be no painting outdoors, I thought to myself, but when I returned to the house Mum was packing up a picnic, full of enthusiasm to paint plein air, so off we went…. I carried my watercolors instead of the oils as I knew a canvas on an easel would blow away in moments, and when we arrived at our special spot near Kilmacanogue the only place sheltered from this blustery cold breeze was in a copse of trees amongst hosts of magnificent Purple Loosestrife flowers. Layered in clothes and a windbreaker anorak I got to work, and the above is one of the pieces inspired by these most lovely of flowers, graceful and weirdly wonderful.

Mum painting with watercolor

Mum painting with watercolor

As we worked a friendly neighborhood lady came out on the little narrow road to warn us of the local tractor man who would run us down if we weren’t careful… but he never turned up, and nor did any other car pass during the many hours we were there – it really is a lovely spot, hidden and yet with the most magnificent views, and of course an abundance of these purple flowers, golden gorse, heathers and rowan trees bedecked with red berries.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

She went on to tell us many a story, including one of a mutual acquaintance who supposedly stole a statue of the Virgin Mary from the tinkers, painted her up and placed her in a favored spot in her garden, and then invited friends to come by on a saint’s feast day to offer the Virgin flowers and votive candles, sweet foods and prayers. Also invited were some Muslims working in Dublin who were initially unsure of the proceedings, but who soon got into the spirit of things and began to strip, dance and ululate. And another story of the same lady who held a potato party and invited friends and strangers to come by and dig beds and plant potatoes in her garden, but one hard-working participant was quietly asked not to return as the host had taken a dislike to her unassuming ways…Before long this talkative local was joined by her friend, and the conversation turned to artists and actresses, auctions and world adventures, all on this little boreen of a road surrounded by swaying purple flowers. I feel this is a magical mystical land, and many paintings are being born, mostly in my heart so we’ll see of they ever manifest, but one of this day’s encounters must surely develop….I can see it and feel it. Upon my return to Jamaica I will try to paint it.


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