Ireland Visit 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

My morning walk in Ballyvaughan took me by the harbor of Galway Bay.

My morning walk in Ballyvaughan took me by the harbor of Galway Bay.

Ireland greeted me with a lovely day! Clear skies, sunshine, fresh sea air and 65 degrees. I will be in Ireland for three weeks primarily to walk and record the landscape. I will be staying again with Breada Keane in her B&B “Meadowfield” in the village of Ballyvaughan in County Clare for my first week. My second week will be an adventure in Connemara then I will back in Ballyvaughan.

Ballyvaughan is a coastal village in the heart of an area named “The Burren“. The Burren is a part of Ireland that has a unique landscape and history that I find hauntingly beautiful. Many people know it from the writings of the late John O’Donohue who was an Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher. I became acquainted with O’Donohue by reading his first published work – an international best-seller, Anam Cara (1997).

During my past visits to The Burren and Connemara I have recorded the landscape with photography and drawing -this time I will be including watercolor studies and creating studies with my iPad. In preparation for this I had been practicing with both mediums.

The iPad



I’m using the application “Procreate” for my iPad studies, I was introduced to this iPad app by one of my students, Don Ashcraft who has managed to do some terrific illustrations with it. I’m experimenting with it to create a look of a charcoal study.


It had been several years since I had painted in watercolor so I figured I needed some practice before I started doing some real landscape studies. It didn’t take me long to get back into the groove of using washes but I needed more practice with building up translucent washes with the colors that conveyed the look of the Irish landscape.

Practicing with watercolor again . . .

Practicing with watercolor again . . .

002 Rocks&SeaMy color palette was too vibrant – my rocky sea coast looked like it was painted for a Corona advertisement instead of a subdued and moody Irish sea coast. I continued to try to subdue the colors but I was not having any luck. Then I thought to myself. “why not take a look at Alan Lee‘s color palette?” So I did . . .

I looked at one of my favorite Alan Lee watercolor illustration “The Brown Man of the Muirs” to help me create a more suitable palette for the Irish landscape. I experimented by layering various colored washes onto one another in order to come up with a color palette that looked similar to Lee’s. Through this experimentation I was able to identify the following colors:

Yellow Orchre, Van Dyke Brown, Terre Verte, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue and Payne’s Gray.

Then I decided that creating a watercolor study that reproduced his “Brown Man” illustration could be a good lesson for me.

Starting the study . . .

Starting the study . . .

My colors are still more vibrant but I'm happy with the results . . .

My colors are still more vibrant but I’m happy with the results . . .

Tree StudyI recreated Lee’s landscape but did not attempt to recreate his “Brown Man”. I over did some of the washes until they became “muddy” looking but learned something from my errors. When doing my watercolor studies I need to remind myself of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe qoutes “Less is more” and “God is in the details“.