High speed a plein air painting with Rod Coyne: “Blackwater”
“I had a fantastic few days painting in the Tourin Estate, it’s a compelling blend of history and nature and an artist’s delight. This River Blackwater painting was just one of four paintings exhibited October 2016. You can read the full story here. The river which runs down to the sea at Dungarvin is a painters paradise.
“My then upcoming exhibition Decade caused Ros Drinkwater to write “Coyne’s landscapes are a labour of love” in the Sunday Business Post, May 2009. She spent a day with me at the Avoca Studio Gallery reviewing the brand new collection and delving into my motivation behind it. She was very taken by the fact that acclaimed author Sebastian Barry endorsed the new paintings and had agreed to launch the show. It didn’t appear in the article unfortunately but when I pressed her for a personal opinion she admitted “I like your work Rod, it’s got balls!” I hope you enjoy this article.”
– Rod Coyne
The first time I set eyes on Rod Coyne he was painting plein air on a cliff top overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The setting was Cill Rialaig in Co. Kerry, Ireland’s only artist’s retreat. It was clear that the work in progress had the vigour born out of that energy-laden landscape, as Coyne says, “where the Atlantic collides full frontal with Europe – literally between heaven and earth”.
When asked to open Decade, Rod Coyne’s 10th anniversary show currently showing at Origin Gallery, Dublin 2, Costa prize-winning author Sebastian Barry agreed with alacrity. “So many of his images could be straight out of my own memory, very strange and wonderful, the red lightship, the Wicklow high valley, the angle glimpsed, “ he said.
The exhibition comprises of 40 landscapes and seascapes, the fruits of Coyne’s “long running conversation with the Irish landscape”. He is drawn to places of mythology and beauty, and his exhibition (above) includes the Skelligs, famous sanctuary of the monks, rising out of the sea like a cathedral; the Upper Lake at Glendalough, place of another hermitage where St. Kevin founded a monastery a millennium ago; a flock of sea birds high over the ocean; a vessel in the teeth of a gale.
Born in Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin, Coyne graduated from the Crawford College of Art in Cork and spent ten years in Germany working from a studio overlooking the Rhine – water is always his starting point be it a river, stream, lake, sea or ocean.
When he opened his studio gallery six years ago, his expectation was that tourists would be his main trade but, to his delight, this has not turned out to be so. “What I’ve found is that people are attracted to their own locations – they buy paintings of what the tourists come here to see, “he said.
Since his first solo show at the Origin a decade ago, Coyne’s work has found favour with the public, and is in many prestigious public and private collections. In the current climate his subject matter has a particular relevance. Over millennia civilisations rise and fall – only the landscape endures. Coyne captures both its power and beauty.
RTE presenter and journalist Richard Curran took the helm at the Seeing Red launch. He was introduced by Gallerist and Cill Rialaig Retreat founder Dr. Noelle Campbell-Sharpe. Later in this video Rod Coyne tells about his thought process while making the new work. During 2017 and moving in to 2018 Rod has replaced all the greens of the landscape with a vivid palette of reds. The results are equally exciting and other worldly.
Rod Coyne was privileged to spend two weeks painting at heart of that Wild Atlantic Way. Here’s a two minute studio tour of his Cill Rialaig paintings at that point in time. #Skellig#WildAtlanticWay
The exhibition by Rod Coyne will be open to the public at Origin Gallery Dublin from 2nd – 20th March 2018.
Blizzard conditions in Ireland caused the postponement of the official opening night. After you’ve seen enough white then you might like to start “SEEING RED”. In the meantime please keep warm and safe in these polar conditions.
“Yes, its true, I am Still Seeing Red! Following on from my first tentative steps at Cill Rialaig during my Easter retreat in 2017 I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into my Rod Sees Red project. And now one year later I am ready to road-test this new departure and present this experimental work to the public at large. I am privileged to have been offered a solo exhibition in Dublin’s Origin Gallery during March 2018. This imminent show will be open to the public from the 2nd till the 21st of March and is curated by Dr. Noelle Campbell-Sharpe.
Don’t get Distracted
“Avoca Painting School commitments caught up with me after Cill Rialaig last year and it was August before I could return to the experimentation started in Rod Sees Red. I was taking part in the now renowned Irish version of the international franchise Art in the Open, where literally hundreds of painters descend on a different County Wexford location each day and capture its charms on canvas. I was feeling quite pleased with myself while completing an extremely red version of Hookhead Lighthouse when a fellow artist peered at my painting and gasped in shock. ‘I wish I had the guts to do something like that,’ he announced. At first we agreed it was indeed a risky approach, but I then burst the little bubble by pointing out that, ‘it’s only paint on canvas’, and hardly a case of life-or-death.
“Despite the fact that my new project was not actually dare-devil stuff it was consistently drawing gasps and raising eyebrows. But most importantly I was getting great feedback and people were appreciating my left-field take on otherwise familiar subjects. I was very grateful for the positive resonance because I was finding it very hard to look critically at the new work myself. I would start into each new painting knowing what I had to do to fulfill my own brief and yet feeling slightly revolted at turning perfectly good greens into red! It was all just too counter intuitive and dizzying for me. So each time I would have to steel myself and remember that I was on a mission. Even though when I finished each piece I would stand back and view it with giddy excitement I truly never believed anyone else would feel the same reaction – I was wrong. I got further affirmation later that year when two paintings were short listed for the UK’s biggest art-prize NOA 2017.
Moving it indoors
“As Autumn rolled around I was afforded an excuse to take Rod Sees Red into the studio and see how it worked in that environment. The ‘Dublin Docklands’ exhibition was going to be derived from photo reference and I set about translating antique black and white images into vivid red versions of their former selves. Again each painting went the full spectrum from the stomach-churning first strokes to that light-headed excitement at the end. Now I really felt that I was growing into my new style.
New Year’s Art
“To start 2018 I had a particular motif in mind, something near to home which I had studied a decade before. Painting the old stone-cut railway bridge at the end of the Vale of Avoca had a sensation of coming full circle for me. I remember so well standing on the same spot and breaking artistic ground with my then brand new Atmospherics phase. I was very pleased with the results, then as now.
More Giddy Excitement
“So I can safely say now that my confidence has continued to build from those first tentative steps in County Kerry last year. I am still unnerved and disconcerted starting into each new picture but now I can remind myself to set my jaw and push on through to the giddy excitement on the other side. I will definitely be perusing this road for 2018 and probably beyond.” – Rod Coyne.
So if you find yourself wandering the Dun Laoghaire seafront Xmas Market then be sure to make your way down to the former Ferry Terminal and see this exciting exhibition featuring painter Rod Coyne and selected artists. It was a full-house for the launch of Dublin Docklands on Sunday 19th November 2017, and the show is open daily untill 22nd December at the Ferry Terminal on Harbour Road.
Curator and owner of the Gallery Dalkey Siobhan Bastable launches the show with a glowing endorsement of her artists’ work. Photo by Keith Dixon.
New work for the Dublin Docklands
Coyne’s “Pigeon House” collection kept visitors rapt with his contemporary take on Dublin Bay’s icon skyline. Two Visitors in animated discussion before three canvases from this singular collection.
In “Hot Dockers” Rod Coyne interprets a vintage image depicting men at work through a palette of fiery reds, oranges and pinks.
ROD-CAST: Jaw-dropping iconic Dublin Skyline.
As you know Mr. Coyne is a keen vlogger, so sit back and enjoy this whistle stop tour of the “Dublin Docklands” exhibition launch featuring jaw-dropping views of the iconic Dublin Skyline. This two-minute video gives you a great insight to what the Gallery Dalkey have achieved in this singular pop-up exhibition space on the Dun Laoghaire seafront.
Dublin Docklands – Varnishing Day
“I went to wire finishing “Masts at Customhouse” before the show. This painting was going to be my centre piece and it lived up to all my expectations. But despite using plenty of fast drying alkyd paint the picture was just as wet on Sunday as it had been when I finished it the Wednesday before. Five minutes before the show I realised that Murphy’s Law had struck in the form of a big magenta smear across the cold grey sky. Armed with baby-wipes I set to work trying to remove the offending streak. I couldn’t help picturing William Turner in the recent bio-pic smudging and gobbing on his canvas as the Royal Academicians looked on in horror. The repair job was mostly successful and there was no fatal damage done to my masterpiece. Its fair to say that my bold, lose painting style tolerates that type of abuse better than any photo-realism could” – Rod Coyne.
A frantic repair job by Rod Coyne to save his painting “Masts at Customhouse” at the eleventh hour.
“I couldn’t see it coming at the time, but what started out as a common or garden solo exhibition has turned into a major project with no end in sight” – Rod Coyne.
The My Place on Canvas 2017 Calendaris just the latest by-product of an over active artistic imagination. What started out as a homage to Wicklow landscapes has turned into a celebration of people, memories and stories documented through a compelling mix of videos, words and paint.
MY PLACE ON CANVAS – Born in 2013
The My Place on Canvas is a project where the public nominate their favourite Co. Wicklow landscapes for artist Rod Coyne to paint. This culminated in an exhibition at the Tinahely Courthouse Art Centre in 2014.
Throughout 2015 Rod continued to solicit and paint nominations of cherished Wicklow landscapes. This led to exhibitions and workshops with the Heritage department of Wicklow County Council and the Hollywood Fair. And in 2016 planning started the book to be published in 2017/18. And in the meantime the 2017 Calendarhas been published along with a range of Wicklow Landscape canvas prints.
CALL TO ACTION – then and now.
This is your chance to be part of this project by nominating your favourite Wicklow landscape to be immortalised in paint and print. You just need to share some details about your “My Place” and Rod will do the rest. There is no charge for taking part and it is open to everyone. So if there’s a place close to your heart and you’d like to share it with the world then contact Rod Coyne.
“My Place on Canvas” An exhibition by Rod Coyne, will be opened by TD Stephen Donnelly on 23rd November 2014.
Rod Coyne paints sentiments and memories En plein air*. His upcoming exhibition at the Courthouse Tinahely is a singular mission to capture the favourite Wicklow scenes of others. Rod has motivated people to consider and articulate their relationship with their landscape. Then he has retold that story through paint. The result is a compelling mix of paintings and text called “My Place on Canvas”.
Notable are contributions from author Paul Howard aka Ross O’Carroll Kelly, former Ireland rugby international Shane Byrne, lawyer to the stars Dr. Gerald Kean and Irelands most respected TD Stephen Donnelly. This multi-facetted undertaking saw Coyne marching from the mountains to the sea, or flanked by deer in the forest at dusk, and lunching with The Hon. Garech Browne in Luggala estate.
“My Place on Canvas” is an exhibition celebrating the Wicklow landscape, where the public decided which scenes would be painted. Choosing a selection the artist then interpreted each in his own distinctive plein air style. The finished paintings will be displayed alongside the text of its very own personal back-story.
The exhibition is the culmination of a three year long project which has captured the public’s imagination. Rod set out to break down some of the barriers and exclusivity that still exist around art. With this interactive project Coyne looks at the world through someone else’s eyes while they get to see their landscape through his. The result is a compelling mix of paintings and text broadcasting the majesty that is Co. Wicklow.
Excitement mounts as all contributors anticipate their landscapes being publically unveiled for the first time. The exhibition will be opened by TD Stephen Donnelly on November 23rd. “My Place on Canvas” has allowed people who were previously never involved in art to find themselves at the heart of a fine art exhibition. There have been over 70 submissions from around the world including Holland, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong and, of course, Wicklow. The artist received submissions from across the board including politicians and prisoners, celebrities and writers. All share a passion for the Garden County of Ireland, as the 30 new works being premiered will testify.
In art we can find common ground, and in Rod’s hands it becomes universally accessible. In an effort to de-mystify the creative process Rod has been documenting his painting journey through a photo diary on Twitter. He has also filmed the realisation of each piece with a head-camera and these YouTube clips will be on display at the Courthouse Arts Centre. They tell the other story, that of Rod’s experiences and adventures as he wandered the county, bringing art outside, finding and painting other people’s visions of Wicklow.
*En plein air is a French expression meaning ‘‘in the open air’’ referring to the act of painting outdoors. Plein air artists like Rod capture the spirit and essence of a landscape by incorporating the changing natural light, colour, and movement into their works. They need to capture that movement-Mother Nature does not stand still during the course of a day!
For the period of 2016 I will be creating my plein air pictures wearing an eye patch, a pirate painter so to speak. I have more or less 20/20 vision in my good eye, and only 25% vision in my lazy eye. For this project I am covering my good eye and relying completely my lazy eye to paint. This is a totally experimental period of work and I have now idea what the results will yield. I am adapting a scientific approach by writing a detailed report on the creation of each painting and videoing the process. This project has received the full backing of Wicklow County Arts Office in the form of a generous bursary. So watch this space when I reveal the results in 2017.
Pirate Painter Project – In Detail
I have a lazy eye, otherwise known as amblyopic eye. This condition can result in many and varied visual impairments, and these can range from mild to extreme. According to a recent optician test, the visual information I receive on my good eye is 92% of 20/20 vision verses 25% through my lazy eye. Specifically, the sight on my lazy eye is heavily blurred, but I do receive the same full range of both colour and light as with my good eye. This blurred vision applies equally up close as it does for looking into the distance.
Renowned art critic Martin Gayford commenting on Lucian Freud’s lazy-eye remarked how his paintings only came into focus from a distance, while up close they are all about mark-making and the lustre of oil paint. Apparently it’s to do with two sets of images being received by the brain, namely one sharp and the other blurred. My own painting has always born the same characteristics although I never understood the reason untill I read Martin Gayford.
I am now ready for the next artistic chapter in my artistic life. I am a firm believer in a structured and scientific approach so prefer changing just one element of my current modus operandi at a time so as to fully comprehend and judge the results. I see this project as an opportunity to disappear down a rabbit hole with no pre-conception of the pictorial results. My intention then is to calibrate and criticize the results viewing them in the wider context of landscape painting today.
Pirate Painter Project – The Questions
What happens if I subtract my good eye from the painting process? In what way would the resulting image be different? How will I deal with a fuzzy, distant subject? How will it affect the colours I see and how I mix them? How will I judge if a brush is loaded or not? To what extent will I believe the canvas is covered when it is not? And most importantly will I bend my restricted vision to suit my current style or visa-versa? Answer: I haven’t got a clue, but the prospect is very exciting.
Pirate Painter Project – In the Landscape
The Irish landscape is a means to an end for me, where the end is finding and developing my voice as an artist. So the landscape becomes a vehicle to investigating and developing my own style of plein air painting. This plein air conversation with Co. Wicklow continues unabated now into its 16 year.
My proposal is to continue my plein air conversation with the Wicklow landscape from April to December 2016 while wearing an eye-patch over my good eye. A pirate-painter if you like. It will be like painting with one hand tied behind my back and the results will be documented in oil on canvas in the form of a new body of experimental work. I hope with this experiment to better understand my physical perception of the world. Because my lazy-eye image and focus is so reduced and simplified I wonder to what extent the paintings will reflect this. I am also keen to know if my lazy-eye will improve during the year with all the extra exercise or if my brain will employ completion to “fill in the blanks” in the search for a more familiar image.
Celebrate 1916 Collection at Hollywood with 1/3 off canvas prints.
As you know this month Rod Coyne presents his unique “1916 Portrait Collection” at Wicklow’s Hollywood Fair. This exhibition is free and all are welcome. But what you didn’t know is that to celebrate the exhibition we are discounting the whole Canvas Print collection by 33% at the Fair and online.
This year’s vintage Hollywood Fair is themed around the 1916 Easter Rising Centenary. The unrivaled family event promises art & culture, music & song and no shortage of food & drink. And Rod’s canvases have pride of place in St. Kevin’s Church, Hollywood, Co. Wicklow from 7 – 9pm Saturday 20th and 2 – 6pm on Sunday 21st August 2016.
Paint your stress away.
Follow in the footsteps of National Poet Thomas Moore with Avoca Painting School. Rod Coyne’s Outdoor Painting Workshops take place during Summer 2016 at stunning painting locations throughout County Wicklow, Ireland. Workshop #5 on August 13th promises quality time at the Meeting of the Waters . Book your place now.
The Avoca Painting School presents Rod Coyne’s drawing and painting course at the Avoca Gallery which runs over a 6-week period. The Tuesday and Wednesday morning classes are suitable for beginners and advanced painters. Maximum six students per class. Book your place before the 22nd August 2016 and save €20.
One Minute Painting VideoRod participated in Wexford’s Art in the Open 2016; this was nine years in succession sine the festivals inauguration. “It was way too wet and windy on the beach at Curraghcloe. So I took my paints and headed back through the dunes…”