The Burren in spring
If looking through paintings of Galway you may find that The Burren is, well, a bit mad. But in a good botanical and geological way. Certainly, there is nothing quite like it in the rest of Ireland, or Scotland either. A totally fascinating limestone landscape, filled with flowers and plants, all of which love the calcium-rich medium. (Such a contrast, say, to some of the Scottish Highlands’ peaty, acid soils, with their, uhmm, more restricted flora.)
Our visit there was fascinating: wandering by hazel grove, craggy cliff and limestone ‘pavement’ – and it’s definitely a place to go back to, if only because we missed the blue gentians and also the mountain avens – just two of the lovely things to look out for. (I did see a brimstone butterfly that day – a first for this northern Scot.)
Capturing the Burren on canvas
(Actually, on heavy-grade art paper, gummed on all four sides)
In paintings of Galway, greens can be difficult to pin down. Sure, mixing blue and yellow is the recipe – you learned that in your first school class – but beware that hint of viridian in some blues that can give the green a most unnatural look, like a high-viz jacket.
You can scan the supplier’s catalogue for sap green, leaf green, viridian (aaargh), olive green, emerald green, phthalo green, hughie green, parsons green and many more if you want to make your mixing life a little easier.
There is one issue with The Burren, from a figurative landscape painting point of view – ooh, get him with his arty-falutin terminology: all that limestone in the base-rich ground (I wanted to squeeze that phrase in too) means that the grass really does have an emerald hue, or at least is especially vivid. This can make it look unnaturally colourful. But that’s how it was in the month of May in sunshine. Like I said above, the place is a bit mad, especially with blossom.
Gurteen Bay, Connemara
If you come from Scotland, and visit Ireland, then you feel at home. Probably because Ireland has lots of young people, feels really go-ahead and successful and may make you think that this is what Scotland could have been like, if only…
Wait, what’s that got to do with this painting? Well, only that irish landscapes are like Scotland too (or vice-versa).
Gurteen Bay is almost a tombolo, or at least a fat tombolo, because it loosely backs on to the even better known Dogs Bay, with only a short walk across the machair separating them. (I assume here that the Scots Gaelic machair, meaning shell-sand pasture by the shore, can apply to Ireland too.)
Anyway, the ambience of white sand, a horizon of hills, as well as the wild flowers and bird calls by the shore all felt familiar. We love Connemara.
Galway City – autumn night on Quay Street
Galway City rocks. At least it does if you live in a backwater in Scotland, comparatively speaking. We loved it. We also loved the way the traffic stops for you as a pedestrian and waves you across. Then we noticed it was mostly because the traffic was gridlocked anyway and hence stationary. That’s the minor downside of the place.
Apart from that, it’s delightful. (Whisper it: I’d go back there before re-visiting Dublin .)
More on a visit to Galway here.