The poinciana trees are finishing their reign now, but back in the early days of summer they’d burst into bloom, seemingly overnight, and put on a raging show, all hot burning reds and bright fiery oranges. Flaring up all over town and country they were, gladdening the hearts of one and all, and up close they’re even more gorgeous – what a riot of fabulousness they are! Down Constant Spring Road there are about a dozen of them lining the side of this dirty noisy city street, and for that stretch and that stretch alone, the grime and ugliness of this frenetic road disappears, the fanfare of color and majesty filling the space with glory. Most of these particular trees are of the orange, and more rare, variety, with a few of the common red ones amongst their rank; the blend of the two colors only serves to intensify Nature’s parade, to turn up the volume, so to speak. Beneath these tall trees is a long and wide path, strewn of course in a carpet of big blousy blossoms, so the overall effect is spectacular, and upon this path people walk, going about their business.
I determined to have a go at painting these beauties, but as usual the ‘plein air’ approach is not possible, between the heat and the unwanted attention, so I took some photographs instead one early Sunday morning, and returned to the studio to work from them there. It was only then that I noticed that the young man who had been walking amidst the dapple on the shaded pathway while I took the shots was carrying his Bible, and so the scene became more charged with meaning; a young man on his spiritual path, walking towards the Light, surrounded and embraced by beauty; and that felt like something universal, something we can all access, whether it’s because we respond with joy to the awesomeness of the natural world, or because we’re walking our path with faith…and then it became more personal again, and the young man became a young man I knew and loved, and for whom I had just planted some bright orange marigolds, and so this is for him.
oil on canvas, 28″ x 36″
oil on canvas, 18″ x 27″
Many moons ago I visited friends who live between Cockpit Country and the sea, in the middle of hundreds of acres of farmland and pastures, and while we were there it rained and rained, night and day. I love the rain, and loved being cocooned indoors as massive rainclouds moved slowly across the land, drenching it and saturating it (not unlike the weather we’ve been having lately from the dreadful but thankfully distant Hurricane Irma; bands of relentless rain). Then close to midday there was a break and we went out for a walk in the most perfect weather, to me an Irishwoman, damp and cool and with the promise of more rain. As the sunshine did its best to have a say, light glinted off the boggy pools of water that had filled any dips in the fields, and the horses’ backs and manes glowed. Lambent light it was, and it’s not often you get that in the tropics, and what with the wet field and the sheep in a lane-way I thought I was back on home turf, back in dear and magical Ireland, and saw paintings all about. Alas I’d come out without the camera, so my dear friend took some photos with her phone and Whatapped them to me later, and this painting was begun.
Now with a show coming up I’m trying to lick this and other pieces into shape so they can go out in public…this is the result.
Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″
So I’m still trying to find my way, my one particular style of painting. I’ve spent the summer responding to this and that: painting orchids from a flower right in front of me, the ‘plein air’ approach, and as close as I got to painting outside as it’s so damn hot; starting something from life and then continuing in the studio with the help of a photo; starting from a photo and then trying to allow the paint to take over so the image is not too literal, but the paint is what’s important; experimenting with a collage-and-glazes technique I gave a workshop in, and going big with it… All have had their challenges, and I can’t say that I know which approach resonates the most with me, so I guess I’m still exploring.
This one I started months ago, inspired by a photograph I saw on Facebook of someone entering a river’s pool somewhere in the interior of Jamaica, and I really liked the feel of the place, and rather than pack up the car with equipment and go and find this magical river, I started from the shot and took it from there. The other day I found the painting amongst a stack of unfinished canvases, so I put a few touches to it and titled it to reflect the fact that I don’t know one definite way, but am pretty open to the exploration. Maybe ‘Finding’ is presumptive; it’s searching really….It would be easier if I knew my ‘style’, but that will either become clear in time or it won’t. And I’ve always liked a variety and find it hard to stay with one approach. One thing I know is this type of narrative painting, the one with a ‘story’, a depiction of something happening as such, is easier to conclude than the type of painting that is an exploration in paint alone… I have many of those unfinished…