“Coyne’s Labour of Love” By Ros Drinkwater, Sunday Business Post.

“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

Perched on the edge of the world, Rod Coyne paints on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry.
Perched on the edge of the world, Rod Coyne paints on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry.

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”.

Sebastian Barry launching Rod Coyne's "Decade" exhibition in the Origin Gallery, 2009.
Sebastian Barry launched Rod Coyne’s “Decade” exhibition in the Origin Gallery, 2009.

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.

"Upper Lake, Glendalough" as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.
“Upper Lake, Glendalough” 100x120cm, oil on canvas.
"Walking on Water" as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.
“Walking on Water” triptych 18x24cm x3 panels, oil on canvas.

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.

"Atlantic Static" as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.
“Atlantic Static” as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.

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.

"Island Cathedral" as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.
“Island Cathedral” as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.

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.

"Wicklow Mountains" as featured by Ros Drinkwater for the Sunday Business Post.
“Wicklow Mountains” 100x120cm, oil on canvas.

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.

Rod Coyne's "Decade" exhibition featured in the Sunday Business Post, 2009, by Ros Drinkwater.
Rod Coyne’s “Decade” exhibition featured in the Sunday Business Post, 2009, by Ros Drinkwater.

 

View more of Rod Coyne’s paintings.

Rod’s Red Rock Video

“There was always a big chance that  the creation of Red Rock would not  be born on video at all. There’s always so much to concentrate on when painting a big canvas en plein air that filming the whole affair has to be kept as a secondary priority so as not to distract me from the main event. I never have a camera man with me or any other technical helper so my footage is often off the mark or the batteries run out ages before I notice.”

But this day’s painting was different as I knew exactly what composition I wanted and which canvas I was going to use. The Skelligs features at least once on a residency at Cill Rialaig and this time I had left it till my last day at the Retreat. I actually love the fact that the Star Wars franchise has been celebrating the majesty of these holy islands and now here I was with ten days painting under my belt and ready to pay homage to the island cathedral.

The time-lapse camera watches every brush stoke patiently.
The time-lapse camera watches every brush stoke patiently.

Big canvases are susceptible to any sort of wind so I prefer to secure them to something sturdier that my flimsy easel. While the pier wall offered the perfect position for the perfect view I still needed to get creative in how to lash it to the stonework. Years of working on movie sets in an earlier life has given me a kind of can-do attitude towards this type of problem. Some heavy duty screws and a couple of bungy cords later and it was attached rock solid.

 

"Red Rock" work in progress on Glen Pier.

“Red Rock” work in progress on Glen Pier.

Then to the cameras; I used three on that day. One time-lapse camera with no view finder which has to aimed purely on intuition. Secondly, I had a temperamental go-pro up close to the canvas. And finally I filmed all the B-roll stuff using my smart phone. As usual while painting and filming somethings didn’t work out as planned and other things occurred which I had never expected. The upshot in both cases was that the happy accidents far outweighed the disastrous ones and I was very pleased with the results. The painting gave me a sense of instant gratification on the day but it was ten months before I got a chance to work with the footage. Editing the video over the period of a few nights transported me back to painting on that breezy, sunny day on Glen Pier in Co. Kerry. And now it’s done I’m delighted I took the time to allow for the second priority of the day. I hope you like it too, if so, please share.” – Rod Coyne.

Featured in Rod's upcoming exhibition "Red Rock" 2017, triptych 50x70cm x3, oil on canvas.
Featured in Rod’s upcoming exhibition “Red Rock” 2017, triptych 50x70cm x3, oil on canvas.

 

Happy with his day's work Rod's allows himself a little victory wave in front of the just finished Red Rock.
Happy with his day’s work Rod’s allows himself a little victory wave in front of the just finished Red Rock.

Read more about the “Seeing Red” exhibition.

See more of Rod’s videos on YouTube.

#Skelligs

#StarWars

#WildAtlanticWay