Monday, August 3, 2015

"Padraig's Achill" by Lynda Cookson

A couple of years ago I spent a very informative weekend painting with Padraig McCaul on Achill Island in Co. Mayo, where he lives. Achill Island is one of the most remote north western areas of Connemara in Ireland ... next stop west if the USA.

It's wild and windy, and can feel quite harsh, in that part of the world. But stunningly beautiful, attracting many artists to its mountains and seascapes.

I learnt one of the most valuable lessons in colour perception that weekend. I was telling Padraig how I had met an artist from the British Isles who had visited Southern Africa (my birth place and stomping ground) and consequently painted the tribal people of Namibia. But there was something not quite right about those paintings and I realised that he was using a cool palette to paint the heat, dust and warm chocolate of their skins. A cool palette came naturally to this artist as those are more the base colours of many European countries.

And then ... epiphany! ... I had been battling to both creatively relate to, and paint, the landscapes of Ireland ..... and of course, what was I doing? Using my hot African warm colour palette to try and capture the cool, damp, greens, greys and blues of Ireland. It's so easy to see the errors in someone else's work ... not so easy to identify the same errors in my own work!

Since then I've been even more conscious of looking even harder, and trying even harder, to see the underlying and almost invisible colours in my subject, and to feel for the cool elements or the warmth of their palette.

"Padraig's Achill" was the best painting to come out of that wonderful weekend.

"Padraig's Achill" by Lynda Cookson

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