I listen to a song or a piece of instrumental music and something comes into my mind. I start painting.
In the case of a song, it’s not just the words but whatever mood the music suggests: the rhythm, the instrumentation, the melody, etc. Ultimately, it’s the totality of the experience that assails my senses.
If it is a particular poetic image that sticks in my mind the outcome may not be a photographic representation of that image but a response to the musical mood in which the image is cradled – words and music and paint become one and the same entity.
This process allows me to be abstract at times…but not detached from the emotional pull of the music. It’s a human response to the beauties of the world. I suppose I’m very romantic in that respect!
Bluebell (hyacinthoides non-scripta) ~ Méaracán
We went walking in a Donegal woodland last spring – Kathryn and I – and were greeted by a vibrant carpet of flowering bluebells. Breath-taking! I like the Irish word méaracán to describe them, although it actually means thimble. I can imagine young children plucking the bluebells and putting a bell on each finger rather like fairy thimbles. Other Irish words for bluebells are cloigíní gorma (little blue bells) and coinnle corra. The latter is difficult to translate as the second word corr has many meanings: anything from tapered to pointed to odd or occasional. Together with the first word, it translates, variously, as tapered or pointed candles, or, by implication, candles that light up in the oddest way or appear at the oddest time (bluebells come and go within a very short period of time).
The Scottish Gàidhlig for bluebell (and harebell) is fuath-mhuc, also difficult to translate but seems to suggest a spectre or phantom; perhaps something you might experience if you encountered a bower of bluebells while walking through the woods at night.
These paintings are not meant to be botanically accurate in their depictions of bluebells; rather, these are impressions of them in the half-light or dappled light, or even in the darkness of night, spectre-like and phantom-like, radiating and illuminating their blueness.