Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Warm Light, West of the Bog, Achill

Warm Light, West of the Bog, Achill - oil on panel - 12"x9"

Since arriving in Co. Mayo last year I have found countless subjects of inspiration in and around the majestic bog lands of Achill island. Achill, as many of you may know, has a strong connection with painting as one of Irelands most iconic painters Paul Henry (11 April 1877 – 24 August 1958) worked there for many years.

The piece above allowed me the opportunity to work towards capturing the unique quality of light to be found on the island. Through the use of this light the scene I found also presented me with a chance to experiment with atmosphere, distance, edges, colour harmony and temperature.
In retrospect the over all composition reminds me vividly of a piece I created in about 2006 which featured a robed figure ( a recurring motif in my early work) in the far distance as he wound around the path which lay before him.

A few weeks ago while visiting a friend on the island I had the opportunity to meet with a local man who had been studying the art works and history of a less known American painter and teacher Robert Henri (25 June 1865 – 12 July 1929). Henri had worked on Achill island intermittently from 1913 . This man knew of a couple of people still living on the island who as children sat for Henri to compose portraits, and of the gentleman who had stretched canvases for Henri while he lived and worked on the island.

During my recent New York solo exhibition I called to a gallery on Park Avenue and to my delight was brought into the store rooms to see a portrait created by Henri of a native Irish girl from Achill island. These portraits which were created by Henri on Achill are absolutely beautiful and most sought after on the international art market.

There are many inspirational artists and past masters which I admire, but for me Robert Henri has to one of the greatest modern thinkers, teachers and creators. I will be sure to study his work and teachings over the coming years to add to my knowledge and love of Art.

- Richard

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