Ireland Visit 2015
Friday, August 7, 2015
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.
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.
My 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.
I 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“.