My Trip to Art in the Open – 2016 Ireland

Last month I attended a plein air painting event in the sunny south east of Ireland – Co. Wexford.

Art in the Open

This is Ireland’s International Plein Air Painting Festival that took place from 24th July – 1st August 2016. It’s an annual event and attracted over 170 artists from all corners of the world.  Superb work was created by some of the best plein air artists ever.

  Painting heaven for the  Plein Air Painter

There’s lots to see and do :

Masterclass workshops

Quick-draw competition

Life drawing sessions

Gala dinner and Awards

Barbeque with Live Music

and lots of good craic among like-minded friends!


The  paint-out locations included:

Wexford town

Ballymore Demesne

Inistioge Village

Tintern Abbey and Colclough Walled Garden

Passage East

Curracloe Beach & Ravenwood

Heritage Centre


So come and take a look at some of the work that I did on my visit:

Tintern Abbey and Colclough Walled gardens was really like a chocolate box for painting – so many scenes that were just gorgeous.  I chose this scene looking over a bridge into the woodland.

Lost in the woods at Tintern Abbey - oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches
Lost in the woods at Tintern Abbey – oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches

At Passage East, I completed two paintings.  It was such a lovely day, I just did not want it to end and although feeling tired, I managed to “whip” up a second painting by literally turning my easel around and looking in the opposite direction with a view of Hook Head Lighthouse in the distance.

Passage East to Arthurstown - Oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches
Passage East to Arthurstown – Oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches
Passage East to Hook Lighthouse - Oil on Canvas 12 x 12 inches
Passage East to Hook Lighthouse – Oil on Canvas 12 x 12 inches

Curracloe Beach, a beautiful beach that stretches for miles with golden sand was literally a very wet experience.  The rain and mist covered the beach throughout the entire day. Some of the more weathered plein air painters came better prepared for such conditions – me – it was all  just a touch too much!  And so I returned “paintingless”

Then of course we had the quick draw in Wexford town – that was fun!  Just two hours to complete a painting of one of the street shop-fronts. Under pressure and entirely out of my comfort zone, I took on the task of painting the lovely Carraig Donn Fashion & Gift shop.  Silly me, brought a big canvas – mental note – next time 10 x 8″ more than sufficient or complete a pen and ink drawing.  Still, Carraig Donn were pleased with my efforts and gave me a lovely gift which I will always treasure – thank you Carraig Donn!

Carraig Donn

Finally, the show was over.  One last attempt was made at the Heritage Park before heading for home.  Sadly, the rain continued and so I persisted and made an attempt at this boardwalk.  To say the boardwalk was challenging is an under statement! It broke my heart!

Why,  you ask!

It was too wide, then it was too narrow, the perspective seemed a little “off” and it plainly refused to – sit down!  PERSISTENCE!!!!   I re-arranged and painted in the barrels in front of the boardwalk – they  actually stood about 1 foot away from the scene as did the bush on the right.Heritage Park - Oil on Canvas

I do hope you like my “creative thinking” in trying to overcome the frustration  of getting this painting to work.  The rain continued and at times dripped down on top of me and down my painting – just as well I was using Oils!

So, such is the life of a plein air painter – all weather – all conditions – and not for the faint hearted!  But I hear tell, there is no such thing as bad weather, there is just bad clothing!

Plein Air painting tends to make you loosen up.  The objective is to capture the essence of the scene quickly as the  light is continuously changing.

Art in the Open celebrates its 10th Anniversary next year

aio 2017

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The Intriguing Adventures of a Plein Air Painting at Art in the Open

The Intriguing adventures of a Plein Air Painting –  Art In the Open Wexford 2014


The sun blistered the landscape and diamonds of light rebounded along the River Slaney, Co. Wexford.   I  took in the wonderful vista of Wexford town from across the river and decided, today was the day that I would produce a masterpiece at this international painting festival, the biggest in Europe – Plein Air Painting at Art in the Open! Continue reading “The Intriguing Adventures of a Plein Air Painting at Art in the Open”

My Plein Air Dingle Trip

On a sunny Sunday morning in May, I embarked on my journey from Dublin to Dingle, Co. Kerry.   A week of painting outdoors, or otherwise known as En Plein Air.  The car was laden down with field easels,  oil paints, turps, linseed oil,  stretched canvas of all shapes and sizes, clothes to paint in, clothes for warm weather, clothes for cold weather, raingear and the list goes on….   I arrived in Dingle a couple of hours later and was greeted by a number of other like-minded artists who had also packed the so-called ‘kitchen sink’ in preparation for our week of painting.

Dingle (Irish: An Daingean / Daingean Uí Chúis, meaning “Ó Cúis’ fort”) is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula, and sits on the Atlantic coast.   It is also the place where the Academy Award winning Ryan’s Daughter was filmed back in the ‘70’s. The town was developed as a port following the Norman invasion of Ireland and has a population of just over 1900. The western end of the peninsula is a Gaeltacht  (Irish-speaking area). This is the most western part of Ireland, and the village of Dún Chaoin is often jokingly referred to as “the next parish to America”.  It has stunning scenery and the Blasket Islands lie off the west coast of the peninsula.  It was the perfect place for landscape and seascape painting.

Irish Art - my-plein-air-dingle-trip - Blasket Islands, Irish skyline, Kerry, west coast of Ireland
Blasket Islands Oil Painting 20 x 30 on canvas

We travelled high and low, through the narrow roads of Conor Pass, on to Inch Strand, Slea HeadBallyferriter and sometimes we just had to curb our enthusiasm and wait until the traffic cleared:

cows crossing the road blocking the traffic, dingle, kerry countryside
Traffic Calming Measures in Dingle

We set out one day and arrived at a place  called Duineen with a magnificent  mountain range and a river system sometimes referred to as  the Three Sisters.  We started the day with the sun shining as the waves danced and glimmered against the rocks.  Seconds later, dark skies and hailstones, came from God knows where. The waves kicked up a storm and sprayed us with a cool mist while we tried in vain to protect the paintings and the easels from blowing away…. 

Irish Art - my-plein-air-dingle-trip - Peaked mountain range oftentimes referred to as the Three Sisters, with sea crashing against the rocks, Dingle peninsula, Atlantic coast

Another glorious day, the sun beat down on us and I imagined myself in far off sunny climes.  All the superfluous layers of clothing were abandoned as we squinted away from the glare of the sun and topped up our delicate features regularly with sun cream.

Irish Art - my-plein-air-dingle-trip - Sea beating against the rocks on Dingle Peninsula, Atlantic rugged coastline
Clogher Beach, Dingle

Next day, we decided to go inland and pulled off to the side of the road.  Came upon this amazing place called Kilmalkedar, an early medieval ecclesiastical site with a church dating back to the 12th century.   This was a fine example of Irish Romanesque architecture when Ireland was trying to bring itself more into line with the rest of Europe.  There was a sundial, a large cross and an ogham stone (Celtic alphabet).   Inside the church was a 6th century stone carved with the letters DNI representing Domini.  Many tourist buses came and went while we painted, but I found it charming when the school children arrived and all spoke fluent Irish as their Múinteoir (teacher) educated them on the enormous historical value of the site.

Ancient ecclesiastical church dating back to 12th century, historical site
Irish Art - my-plein-air-dingle-trip -Atlantic coastline, view of Dingle peninsula, many shades of green, sheep grazing
View from Kilmalkedar – Oil on board 14×18″

The days went by quickly.  Dedicated painting throughout the day, then lots of chat and laughter as we exchanged our stories and discussed the day’s events over a nice meal. Friendships blossomed and many beautiful paintings were created in oils, acrylics and watercolours, each and every one unique.  I look back now with fond memories of my plein air painting experience in Dingle.