My first sketch of the daffodils, the only three daffs of this particular blossom growing in my mother’s garden. Yesterday I walked down to the centre of our little town to see if the florist had any daffodils with different colours and shapes, but alas, he said they’re almost over, and are unavailable to buy, and they’re only to be found in peoples’ gardens…. So today I will go out and peer over garden walls and see what can be found.
Stone walls were often the result of clearing the land of rocks so that the land would be more fertile. The rockier the land of the area the more walls there are, and the smaller the fields. The building of them was considered an art form – not everyone could build a functional and beautiful wall, and those who could were respected. Walls as demarkation was of course necessary, but they were never built so that they couldn’t be crossed. They’re a great windbreak, or a prop t lean against for a wee snooze in the sun, and this one has become a support for a blazing gorse bush.
Walls are getting a lot of bad press these days, from Mexico to Calais to Hungary, but the walls in Wicklow are very nice and not trying to keep anyone or thing in or out. They just are.
Good friends invited us up the hills for the Easter weekend, to a very special home nestled on a grassy ridge between steep slopes of coffee bushes and pine trees, with nothing around but birds and breeze, and nothing to distract from the stunning views other than the good friends themselves, but sure we were all entranced. Even when playing the traditional game of malicious croquet on the lawn, we would pause our cheating ways to watch in awe as mist tumbled over a nearby hill. We were surrounded by beauty, non-stop.
Sunday morning I practiced yoga with this view in front of me. Lupins glistened and glowed with morning light and dew upon them, and pink roses grew wildly in every direction. The hummingbirds and butterflies were out on their morning rounds, and in the distance I could see the soldiers at Soldier Camp running up and down the very steep hills, keeping fit. I was happy to be doing slow quiet stretches, no running…and breathing in the beauty. I knew I would have to try and paint it…
Of course the Camp is a leftover from the days of British Imperialism, and an interesting parallel it was to be looking at it across the valley, as back home in Ireland the centennial of the Easter Rising was being commemorated (the Irish Rebellion against British rule), with lots of discussion and debate, plays, performances and articles, some of which I accessed online and learnt a lot in the process. There are many similarities between the Irish and the Jamaicans, and being colonized by the British is one of them. It’s a history that has created much of what we are today, in both Ireland and Jamaica, a rather mixed bag of inheritance, packed with stories and tales of courage, aspiration, sorrow, failure and success, disappointment and loss, and of course love. So layered, so human, so full of the lives of so many people living their one life in the best way they can, or not. And so it continues.
Hmmm…this one veering towards abstraction, mainly because I was not liking areas and then washing them out with water, and then liking those ghostly marks and working with them. Again, the piece itself is not well executed, but it gives me ideas for a larger piece in either oil or watercolor. It’s really worthwhile sketching things out first and allowing the process to lead the way.
That was the last day in the garden, and we had hot sun.My daughters on their way to their studies, and it’s time for us all to get back to work. I fly home at the crack of dawn…
The sun came out around 3 this afternoon, and as the day had been full ’til then, I was happy to get out into the garden to paint. A quiet garden full of flowers in the sun and the time to paint has to be Heaven on earth. It’s a meditation, a way of being fully in the present.
All summer most of the painting I’ve done have not been satisfactory as paintings in themselves, as end products, but they have been invaluable in that they have given birth to ideas. Ideas for larger, more thought-through paintings. I haven’t had the physical space or the time and materials to develop these ideas – yet. But by the end of the week I return to Jamaica and my studio, and will have with me so many sketches to develop, and a few shows to prepare for so plenty to do!
Hopefully good work will emerge. And perhaps in the developments of these ideas, the meditation will deepen. With this painting, I thought very much of my grandmother, being in her garden, painting her flowers, being the daughter of her daughter, and having my daughters here, also in this space. I know she is pleased, and pleased too that we are leading happy lives. Although she is not here, not in this physical world, I sense there is just a thin membrane between us, if only we knew how to cross it. With this painting the fuchsias’ stamen became a veil, a dainty moveable tasseled tissue that allows me to travel a little further towards her. This idea of otherworlds and layers, of being still and traveling within is an idea to explore. Of rich red hearty life and delicate pale sensitivity juxtaposed.
Not a commonly held opinion, as it has a reputation for being uncouth and working class, but what is wrong with that? Better than being pretentious, I tell my daughters, who see many of the people walking on the Promenade as poorly-dressed and overweight, and wonder why I love Bray so much. Rather than seeing the people as unsophisticated, I see them as regular people with families and friends, walking out in sunshine or showers, taking in the majesty and beauty of the sea, drawn to the immense power of it in a very natural human way. Above the skies are huge, and beyond the view stretches past the coastal peninsulas towards infinity.
The above sketch was done where people gather, outside a row of chippers and ice-cream vendors, and on this particular day the skies were grey and looming. As I was finishing up, raindrops fell on the paper to add an authentic atmosphere to the piece! I liked how the colors of the beach balls and signage were doing their best to dispel the gloom….