Listening to my instincts

I made this painting during Art in the Open in Wexford. We went to a little village by the sea and as I wandered around looking for inspiration I noticed two big pine trees by the beach. I thought they would make an interesting subject for my painting so I set off to find a place from which to paint the trees against their sea-side surroundings… but I couldn’t find the right spot. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get to a position where the trees would look right, I made several sketches and value studies but it felt as though I was trying to force the painting to work. The whole time I was doing this, I was aware of two old men chatting by the sea wall. My eyes kept flicking back to their little silhouetted figures against the greys behind and I began to look for a way to include them in my tree painting.  After perhaps 20 minutes of sketches and photographs I realised it was hopeless, I just couldn’t get the trees to work. In the past I might have been tempted to paint them anyway, but not now, I am learning to trust my intuition. I decided to just make a little study of the old men, to see whether I could create some ‘colourful greys’ and try to capture the simplicity of the moment. I am pleased with the result; I managed to capture the light in the sky and the interaction between the figures with the minimum amount of detail. And, most importantly, I enjoyed every brushstroke as I was making a painting for the fun of it, just to play around with the idea. I learned a lot here, about greys, about having fun and about listening to my instincts.

The Old Boys