Saturday, August 7, 2010

Heading in a Direction

Storm Watch

Launching the Currach
My first efforts at oil painting occurred in my early 'teens. The paints and other materials were a gift from one of my uncles and, for a couple of years, without any tutoring, I pottered about learning as best I could, how to use the paints. At the time, I was given a biography of Paul Henry, who was at that time, the early 'fifties, one of Ireland's most gifted and prominent artists.

I copied a considerable number of the color plates in that book, one or two of which have survived in my family home.

Recently, as much out of curiosity as nostalgia, I decided to see how I would perform/react/fare-whatever word suits best-to the experience now of copying one of his pieces. I chose this painting, because of the fluid, dynamic and dramatic position of the figures and thoroughly enjoyed the initial drawing of the figures, which I did very quickly. In fact, in order to convey the fluid movement, it was essential to draw quickly (with the brush).

I was not concerned with making a faithful copy-just conveying the general mood. The big problem I had was finding a good color copy. Initially what I found was from an on line source, but it left me feeling that the color reproduction was far from true. From there, I investigated further and found a new publication in the central library, downtown Indianapolis, which showed different colors. So.... I sort of compromised and towards the end, flew on my own.

Here are the two side by side. My copy is the second image (obviously, I guess).

This effort led to more research into finding photos of West of Ireland fishermen and Currachs. For the un-informed, a Currach is an ancient Celtic No Keel wooden fishing boat, formerly covered in animal skins (in tarred canvas these days). These boats, extremely lightweight and buoyant, are very effective in the rough Atlantic on the west coast, but hard to handle-usually with three or four oarsmen. Currach images in Irish painting scenes are somewhat cliched, but I have never done one. Now I am looking further for composing more paintings.

In the meantime....going, as I said, In a Direction, I looked at Patrick Flaherty's famous documentary Man of Aran (on the same Currach quest), and from that, created the painting shown, which I am calling Storm Watch. It is supposed to convey the anxious search by the boy in the film, looking out to sea for the return of his father in a currach. View the movie on YouTube.


  1. Myles, your painting is as good as the original, I like it better for not trying to produce an exact copy. But I LOVE "Storm Watch"! I picture this as a large painting, is it?

  2. Hey, Karen;

    My replies are never quick, as, for the most part, hits on this site are pretty rare, so I don't look frequently.

    I really had fun with the Paul Henry copy. You should go on YouTube and take a look at Man of Aran (only shown in fragments). You will then understand the role of the boy displayed in my picture. This is 16x20. Glad you liked it. I am discovering that, unlike most religous philosophy which says to be saved you must suffer and for-go all pleasure, the best painting I do is when I enjoy the experience. If I am having problems during the execution (and no pleasure) the result is usually no good-or boring-or both!


  3. Hi Miles,
    I really like what you did with the reflections.
    Nicely Done.
    Paulette Lancaster