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Echo Of Small Things

Painting of Donegal House

The title of this post comes from a 2005 album by American musician, Robert Rich.  

The inspiration for this album comes from mundane everyday experiences that culture usually overlooks, such as footsteps, casual voices and other ordinary sounds. Although I am sort of  “New Wave” (that’s sooo old now, you’ll probably have to look it up) in my musical tastes, I have a sneaky liking for experimental music, if its “live”. I like how it encourages you to pay attention to all the sounds around you, instead of tuning them out with your thoughts. Its sort of mediative. The ordinary appeals to me.

The other day I finished one of my paintings, placed on the other side of my studio to inspect and found myself quite-spell bound by it. I could not stop starring at it. This is not always the way I am with my finished work. More often when I have been excited about a painting, finishing it is a bit of an anti-climax. Maybe, it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be. All I can see are the errors. The solutions that weren’t quite right, or not as good as they could have been.

So what was this painting that had me transfixed? You’ll probably laugh when you see it. It was a little painting of two blue tits on a branch. Not a spectacular painting, in any sense, I know. I realised, however, that what had me transfixed were the details. This is really geeky stuff. A shadow under one of the bluetits fell onto the branch below in a really pleasing way. It’s hard to show it here.

Two Blue Tits
Two Blue Tits (detail)
Painting of Two Bluetits
Two Bluetits

This is my most recent painting below. I choose to paint this because I liked the juxtaposition of the mountain behind the semi-derelict house.

Painting of Donegal cottage with Mount Errigal
Near Dunmore Strand

I didn’t realise at first that the gable end window is boarded up. It could be mistaken for a blind. Maybe it is a roller-blind pulled down.

Near Dunmore Strand - detail
Detail (work in progress)

I think the back door is also boarded up. These things are not immediately apparent. There is a large boulder to the left of the house. There is also a pile of building bricks and a tarpaulin in the yard to the right-hand side and old rope in the drive. This is a house at the start or midway through renovations. The details I really relished painting were the shadows of the chimney, roof and the telegraph wire that dissects the window at neat diagonal. It’s only by paying attention to these details that the Donegal light can be properly conveyed.

I have always had a fascination for the ordinary details that are easily overlooked. I want to convey what a scene looked like at that moment. If you were really paying attention. Yet, I am not a painter who works in the hyper-realist style. I am not skillful or patient enough for that. I often cringe when I see my paintings close up because I think some of my brushwork is crude. Yet, “perfect” representation can seem dead and unlife-like.

I  think in the errors, the gaps, our brains fill in the gaps the image can come alive. I like that my paintings aren’t just copies of what I can see but an interpretation; the colours brightened, edges sharpened or softened, some details omitted to make for a simpler composition. Deciding what to leave out or simplify is as important as what you decide to include. Rather like Robert Rich’s “Echo of Small things”


10 thoughts on “Echo Of Small Things

  1. This is a great explanation of what you do so well, Emma! Do you ever include the whys and wherefores of a painting, when you sell it or is that just for blogging material?? And yes, I totally get how you can become fascinated by how a shadow falls on a branch in a painting! It’s so interesting how these things strike us, sometimes, after the painting is complete!

    1. You put it so well, Hilda. Well, sometimes these musings end up with the painting but usually they are on the blog. I hope that people may go a look at my paintings after reading the musings?

      1. Sounds like a great plan to me! 🙂

  2. Interesting that you should write about the shadow under the bird. When a local painter saw your work (I can’t remember why–possibly in one of my tweets) what she mentioned was the powerful way you use shadows.

    1. Thank you for passing on that compliment. Yes, I have always had a thing about shadows, very few of my paintings don’t have shadows!!

  3. I am following you Emma but the posts do not come up each time you post. No idea why. Sorry for delay in liking!!

    1. We, I am sorry about that. I have no idea why that is happening.

      1. No worries I follow from my phone on the WordPress App now and that seems to work. I just don’t receive your posts on email.

  4. I do agree. I find paintings of mine don’t work until the very last details go in, and then hopefully they come to life. I love shadows, the stronger the better, especially the long ones that you get in winter. They describe the shape of objects they fall across, and give that extra dimension
    Your work is so strong. Compulsive viewing

    1. Yes, they do give work extra dimension. They make everything more exciting.

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