Two of our weeks in Ireland were spent with a watercolor painting group. The teacher, Crystal Beshara, and the majority of students, are from Ottawa, Canada. I continue to believe that Canadians are among the nicest people on earth. Our group was exemplary in its cohesiveness, camaraderie and compassion for one another. We felt so fortunate to be among such a great group
The trip was called “30 Shades of Green” and the goal was to paint a variety of scenes en plein air (outdoors). Ireland’s weather being what it is, we weren’t always able to do exactly what was planned, but it didn’t matter. There was beauty inside and out and in every corner of Ireland.
About half of our days as a group were spent painting, with the rest touring and gathering inspiration from such places as The Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher.
Crystal gave a demo during each plein air session, and it included some valuable lessons on such aspects of watercolor as perspective, how to mix interesting greens and how to make a rock look like a rock.
Crystal and the trip organizer, Michael Shepard, selected spots that would be characteristic of Ireland but not boring or cliched. We sat on rocks across from the outside of Cashel Rock while the geese screeched around us; leaned on a bridge in Cahir overlooking a dam with a cathedral spire in the background; perched on walls in Muckross Abbey and got overwhelmed by a view of the Dingle Peninsula (“Oh, how to edit this magnificent scene – I want to get it all in!”).
The day we had hoped to paint a town, Killarney, we were totally rained out, but Jerry and I found the most local of local pubs (which was actually more of a bookie joint, we figured out) and he spent much of the day sketching the faces of the characters we met. But that’s for another blog.
Jerry and I seldom return home with all our paintings. If someone likes it, we give it away. Helen Golding loved all of Jerry’s work and he was happy to share it with her. She bought him a pint of Guinness as a thank-you. I will share some of our work in a future blog.
Some days you just have to paint regardless of the rain. At Muckross Abbey we could duck inside the Abbey for some beautiful rock walls and arches, but I had my heart set on a little vine-covered wall outdoors. I tried holding an umbrella, but painting one-handed when you’re balancing a paper block on your lap and a palette and water cup beside you – well, let’s just say I was grateful for my hood!
For the record, I identified 38 shades of green in just one view of a typical Irish farm scene.
It’s interesting that my original painting teacher, George Woollard, encouraged us never to use green paint – because Hawaii is so vibrantly tropical that green can look trite and a bit too fantasy-like. Well, there’s a good reason that Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle.” Crystal didn’t ask us to forego using green, just to mix some interesting and original shades of green.
More coming soon….don’t want to bore you with too much at a time!