This is the last of the summer wine of a substantial series of oil paintings of a woodland area in Gower Pensinsula between Ilston and Parkmill, which the locals call Cannisland Woods.
It is amazingly beautiful at any time of the year but the light is rarely better than in Winter when it is glassy clear and this helps create a riot of colours and hues in this most dank time, in the mulched leave-layered ground, in the trickling everchanging brook of the Killy Willy, in the distant haze behind the barren trees and in the wonderfully green-mossy trees and shiney, slippery brown barks of the twisted trees by the Killy Willy.
This is another “refractionist” (expressionist) style painting which is similar to Sapling Wood and Rainbow Wood in it’s sweeping streaks of colour but much more grand in it’s ambition and luxuriant in its detail. This will probably be the last of this series of paintings for some time so enjoy.
The painting has sold but you can buy a large limited edition mounted print here
As this oil painting depicts the end of March and the coming of spring, one of my artloving friends sent me a section of a poem by William Wordsworth which he felt my paintings of this area of Gower expressed to him.
“One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man;
Of moral evil and of good
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mishapes the beauteous forms of things
-We murder to dissect.
Enough of science and of art;
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.”
I work part time as a teacher and have 6 weeks of holidays in the summer.
These means I have more concentrated time to paint.
My paintings grow in size during the summer and I have a chance to explore different artistic themes.
So summer represents a time of greater experimentation and size of paintings, especially my “refractionist” landscapes that take about three days to paint as it is time consuming, breaking down light into colour segments. This has become a signature style although I spend increasing time painting urban portraits of city scenes and people portraits of city folk.
Here is a “refractionist” oil painting I painted this week called “Toward Pennard Pill” which is 92 x 73cmm and is £495 to purchase.
“This is a refractionist oil painting of a much loved inspiration for several of my works, the wooded area of Ilston in the Gower Peninusla, near Swansea. This brook or pill leads to the sea at Three Cliffs Bay, via Pennard Pill, hence the title.”
This self portrait is inspired by a painting by Matisse, “The Green Line” or “The Green Stripe”, also known as the Portrait of Madame Matisse, which was a portrait of his wife. I just loved, the name, the use of different colours in the background and the bold use of different colours on the sitter’s face, particularly the “green line”.
I have tried to re-interpret this effect in a post fauvist or refractionist way. I have heightened the colours created by light following on different parts on my face, head and shoulders to show how light creates so many colours that our perception “washes” out or blends into one composite image.
This is another refractionist painting – I was drawn to this painting because I love the colours that come alive not only in misty backgrounds but in backgrounds in the sun, viewed from the more darkened interiors of the wood as in this painting. I love the cool blue of the distance trees and the purple mingling with the ground and the purples there sliding across the ground, following the sun’s light into the dark of the wood. I love the spectrum of colours in the light and how the light is refracted by the tips of the trees, the last burnished leaves and the spindly branches. It produces a kaleidoscopic effect of colour.
I have been asked a lot recently about the techniques I employ in my art and will discuss these in more detail in other blogs but below are now summarised accounts on how I treat light and colour at present in my work.
Use of light – In my paintings the effect of light is often ‘heightened’ and similar to the sophisticated, precise ‘Pixar’ like animated light. I seek to paint the ‘experience’ of light on colour and form. To achieve this requires the heightening of the effect of light otherwise light can often be dampened or subdued by the absorbing colours. I am much more interested in how light invigorates, resonates, generates or dare I say it animates colour and form, rather than simply dressing it, licking or caressing it. This effect is underscored by my use of drawing lines around colours and form, as with the fauvists, and others have suggested this too gives off an animated feel or quality. I also appreciate this observation as I want colour to be the product of being generated, animated by light as if light was the genesis of colour. Thus light creates the colour in a sense rather than colour simply being illuminated by it.
Use of colour – I use a technique I have named ’refractionist’ as it is a ‘stain glass window’ effect of breaking down the light into different colours in the similar way light is ‘broken’ into separate colours in a spectrum. A spectral effect would also be apt. It is about breaking down the effect of light, usually sunlight, on colour into ‘component’ pieces of colour. First one has to find a suitable photographed image and then this image has to be deconstructed into combined segments of colour and light. The style is also difficult as it is almost as if I am painting a pre-perceptual stage of vision itself. By this I mean, that it is similar to the pre-construction phase that is said to occur when we actually construct perception, as perception is constructed and not an automatic process. So in looking at this painting our brain can both enjoy the painting and also ‘construct’ our own image.
Penmaen is in the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea. This painting is of a ‘peeking out’ view from a car slipping out of a parking area which serves as a place to park and then walk down a rubbly, foot twisting lane, which sports a green grassed mohican, to either the bays, Cliffs or Tor. The view of the road, double yellowed lined, shows a distant bend. The yellow lines warn off and discourage day trippers and tourists from the temptation of parking here, illegally and dangerously. A temptation which is ripe when the wee car park is full, and that doesn’t take much doing. The lines run perpendicularly to the heavy, wooden gate which swings outwards creakingly and inwards invitingly to the ankle damaging, unkempt lane that worms it’s way to the gorse cwtched paths which stumble their way down to the bays. Three Cliffs straight and Tor on the left turn. Each heart sighingly beautiful.
Given their beauty, the wee car park at the head of the walk, around the corner from Penmaen bend, is normally crammed with cars. Hence this area is a busy, at times hectic, part of Gower, in a normally tranquil stretch of road. I have tried to catch this incongruity in my painting. I represent this ‘frisson’ or tension even in the use of a ‘london bus red’ post box and the alarmingly bright yellow lines which are normally associated with more inhabited locales. The double yellows seem to offset the playful trees, bushes and far away hills which balance the painting. The yellow lines also ‘drive’ attention into the distance and the ‘bend’ itself. To those who don’t know or are not familiar with this bit of the world, this tranquil idyll can surprisingly cause some anxiety as the ‘pull-out’ onto the country road requires a heightened vigilance and precise timing as not only does the long distance view, you see in the painting, partially obscure the oncoming traffic, constant during the heady summer days in this awarded area of outstanding beauty, but the obscuring bend to one’s left is acute and allows a limited distance in which to get out onto the safety of the road, with the boot tucked in and away from oncoming traffic, often seen too late as it careers around this left bend. ‘Pulling out’ requires the quelling of the beating heart and a ‘bit of gas’ to make sure. This sudden need for heighten attention always seems odd and jarringly juxtaposed to the meandering absentmindedness of the leisurely dog walking, full lunged, brow sweated rambling, gorse smelling appreciation and generally sunbaked revelry that has preceded it.
I hope there is a hint of quiet, lurking menace in the painting as a result. One of my husband’s favourites this, also. He likes the light in it, particularly. He suggests that the light, to him, is ‘heightened’ and similar to the sophisticated, precise ‘Pixar’ like animated light. Which is an interesting observation. I seek to paint the ‘experience’ of light on colour and form. To achieve this requires the heightening of the effect of light otherwise light can often be dampened or subdued by the absorbing colours. I am much more interested in how light invigorates, resonates, generates or dare I say it animates colour and form, rather than simply dressing it, licking or caressing it. The light is thus generated in this painting, almost coming from within not from without. Without having had the life sucked out of it by colour. This may be what my husband means by ‘animated’ light. This effect is underscored by my use of drawing lines around colours and form, as with the fauvists, and others have suggested this too gives off an animated feel or quality. I also appreciate this observation as I want colour to be the product of being generated, animated by light as if light was the genesis of colour. Thus light creates the colour in a sense rather than colour simply being illuminated by it.
[wpecpp name=”Penmaen Bend Revisited ” price=”250″ align=”left”]
I have recently been spending time with my parents in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. On a bright sunny Sunday morning I explored some of the winding tracks of a near by village called Chalford and Chalford Hill. Where is that? In the South West-ish of the English Midlands ( see map below). The Parish of […]
I was absolutely delighted to spot Claire Keegan’s “Foster” (and my painting on the cover) at the BBC’s screen of this year’s British Academy Film Awards, known as the BAFTAs. The Irish language film “The Quiet Girl” was nominated for Best Screenplay (Adapted) catagory. The film’s director Colm Bairead wrote the screenplay, adapted Claire Keegan’s beautiful novella. The moving film was also nominated for the Best Film Not in the English Language.
I am very excited to have an article in today’s Irish Independent on Sunday about me and work by Niall McMonagle. Below is my expanded Q & A interview that was much edited to feature in Niall McMonagle’s What Lies Beneath feature . It’s interesting to see that the online version had a different […]
New Work & Recent Sales
Washing Line, Arranmore _Emma Cownie
Inishcoo (To The Fore of Arranmore) – Emma Cownie
Kinnagoe Bay (Inishowen, Dongal)
Over Glenlough Bay, Donegal-Emma Cownie
Still, On Gola (Donegal)
An Port, Donegal_Emma Cownie
House on Ishcoo, Donegal-Emma Cownie
On Rutland Island, Donegal -Emma Cownie
Spring on THree Cliffs Bay, Gower_Emma Cownie
Sun on the Reeds (Glentornan, Donegal)-Emma Cownie
View from the Pier (Portnoo)-Emma Cownie
From Port to Glenlough (Donegal)
Fishing Boat at Port Donegal-Emma Cownie
Portnoo Pier, Donegal_Emma Cownie
Down to Rossbeg Pier, Donegal
Errigal reflection (Donegal) _Emma Cownie
Errigal from Cruit Island. Donegal _ Emma Cownie
Over to Fanad Lighhouse (Donegal) _Emma Cownie
Errigal painting – A Commission 2022
From Arranmore (Donegal)- Emma Cownie
Abanoned (Glentornan, Donegal) -Emma Cownie
Ferry Home (Arranmore, Donegal) by Emma Cownie
Summer Morning on Pobbles Bay
On the Way to Kinnagoe Bay (Drumaweer, Greencastle)
Down to Doagh Strand (Donegal)-Emma Cownie
Lambing Season at Fanad Head
Fanad Lighthouse (Donegal)
Down to the Rusty Nail
Carrickabraghy Castle, Inishowen
Upper Dreen_Emma Cownie
Portmór Beach, Malin Head, Donegal
Down to the Rusty Nail, Inishowen
The Walls of Derry
Painting of Derry City
Derry Walls by Emma Cownie
Shipquay Gate by Emma Cownie
Over to Owey Island (Keadue) Donegal
Lighting the way to Arranmore
Old Stone Cottage in front of Errigal (Donegal
Boat at the Pier, Gola
House on Inishbofin, with distant Seven Sisters (in studio)