Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint en plein air, which is the French expression for in the open air.
“In Ireland en plein air often means painting in the lashing rain. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage; in fact, personally I find the opposite is true. To paint a mountain I like to stand in front of it. To paint a storm I like to be in the middle of it. Sure this means me and my canvas getting wet, but that’s when the happy-accidents start happening. More than that, I find the physical act of battling the elements manifests itself in the resulting picture. And if I’m out painting Mother Nature then why shouldn’t she have a hand the act of creation by making the paint run with rain or smear in the wind?” – Rod Coyne.
Then and Now
“William Turner led the way in the late 1700’s and a century later the French Impressionists fell in behind, and made Impressionism into a recognised artform. These days it is considered an outdoor pursuit just like hiking and fishing. Some high-brow people might look down their noses at the masses picking up their paints and heading outdoors. But I have now time for any snobbery; I believe all who want to enjoy the meditative properties of creating en plein air should do so. It is a true form mindfulness to be stopped in one spot and studying the view before your eyes. It is in stark contrast to our hectic day-to-day and offers an undeniable form of relaxation therapy. And if you have a painting at the end of it, well, that’s a bonus, but it shouldn’t have to be the goal” – Rod Coyne.
“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!
“Earlier this year I was privileged to take part in a special painting exhibition in the historical Tourin House, the home of Irish Whiskey. Our brief was to create paintings of the beautiful surrounding estate gardens. The core of this group show comprised of the artists who presented “Kilmacurragh through the Artists’ Eyes”, a celebrated exhibition in the National Botanical Gardens, Dublin, 2014.” – Rod Coyne.
During a short residency on the estate I had the chance to put together a small collection of pictures for the show. 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. But first I needed to meet my hosts.
The three sisters, Kristin, Andrea and Tara, are the ninth generation direct descendants of John Jameson, whose name is synonymous with Irish whiskey. I love this photo taken for an earlier Irish Times article. The Jameson sisters wade through daffodils in front of Tourin House.
A river of Irish Whiskey
Roses, nymphs and lawns rolling down to the River Blackwater at the back of Tourin House. Where ever I looked I was struck by another fantastic view. Overawed as I was it was hard to decide where to start painting. When in doubt head for the water – so I took myself down to the riverbank to make a start.
Don’t fence me in!
Much later, feeling sufficiently windswept and chilled I needed somewhere to re-heat my bones. Entering the walled garden is like stepping back in time.
They locked me into the walled garden and wouldn’t let me out untill I completed a painting (no great hardship). So I got to work in amidst of a riot of colour. There was something very exciting about painting in the walled garden with rare and mad colours tumbling across my palette.
The Knockmealdown Mountains loom large and majestic on the horizon. As moved around the estate they continually caught my eye and I knew it was only a question of time till I would have to point my easel in that direction…
The Big Night
What a fantastic night, what a fantastic show. A big, big thank you to the wonderful Jameson sisters who facilitate and support art at every turn. We artists are always affirmed by their vote of confidence.
It was so fantastic to meet all the other artists and see what they had painted in the surrounding I had gotten to know so well. But the biggest thrill was to see my paintings in the hanging auspicious rooms of the true home of Irish Whiskey, Tourin House.
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…”
Earlier this the we were delighted to have the Irish TV team visit Avoca Gallery. Presenter Pol Seoige gets to the core of the gallery’s history with Rod Coyne. Wicklow Matters producer Paul Harney show goes out nationwide in Ireland and stream worldwide on Irish TV.
“Year two of Sky Arts stunning landscape painting TV show is here and I wasn’t going to pass up my opportunity to take part. No spoilers here, don’t worry I was contracted to secrecy upon pain of death…sort of. So I will have to remain vague in certain key details. Last years the Sky Arts pilgrimage took me to south Cornwall and this year it was north to Cumbria.
My excitement always mounts when I drive into the belly of the ferry – finally the preparations are over and the odyssey begins. From the upper deck I can survey my childhood haunts while feeling quite touristy despite the fact I am on a mission.
After a ferry ride, a trek through Wales and northern England, then getting lost for an hour in the stunning Lake District I finally arrive at Wray Castle on Lake Windermere. I won’t find out till the following day where exactly we’ll be painting but it’s a great opportunity to get a feel for the place soak up the landscape aura.
The next morning I load my gear and head down to the Ambleside quay where we are to boat across to the estate. The weather is calm and mystical cloud drags through the surrounding jagged mountains.
Under the constant gaze of cameras and directors our motley crew of fifty artists with mountains of gear dock and troop up the hill to Wray Castle. It’s not a race and I hang back.
This is a part of the UK I’ve never visited before and I am completely enchanted. Under the protection of the National Trust the castle is perched on a steep slope above the lake inspiring awe and menace.
The craggy mountains attract my painters eye more than the castle so I set up between two ladies facing the same direction, only to discover one is Niki Purcell, neighbor and mutual friend from Wicklow. I am in esteemed company when I realise Writer and Sky Portrait Artist Catherine Edmunds is on my right.
A busy silence descends on the field as we all go to work. They have allotted us six hours which will be enough for a few paintings in my case, while I’m guessing others will struggle to finish one. I’m kinda happy with my first effort, but mostly because it informs what I really want to paint and how I will go about it.
With time on my side I take a wonder to see what everyone else is up to. Fortified with coffee and armed with a clear game plan I go to work on canvas number two.
Later my neighbour informs me that wild card judge Kathleen Soriano christened us the Gothic Corner while doing one of her rounds – I like it! I am focusing in tight on the distant Langdale Pikes as the weather clears and the mist peels off the mountain tops. Unbelievably the picture goes to plan and I am delighted with the results – this is the absolute exception to the rule for me, but I gladly take it with both hands.
It’s impossible not to feel a little smug as we tuck into a late lunch in the sunshine. On the flip-side I’m suspecting the judges might prefer to see a more tortured artistic experience giving birth to a winning painting.
There’s no question that the judges have been keeping a close eye on our work and it’s not ridiculous to think we might be in with a chance. Only one wild card will progress. But I promised not to spoil the surprise or say any more about the day’s winner. All will be revealed on Sky Arts TV this autumn.
Tired and happy I pack for the homeward journey. I think to myself it really has been a great experience – but I don’t come for the experience, I come because I believe I am a contender.”
Presented by Pauline McLynn, Painting The Nation is a new series coming to RTÉ this Autumn. Are you a talented amateur artist with a passion for painting? Do you love your oils, watercolours, pastels and acrylics – and would you like to showcase your painting talents to the nation?
It’s a nationwide competition to uncover the very best amateur painters across the country. In fact Painting The Nation is open to a mix of painters: maybe you went to art college but ended up in another career; maybe you sell a painting or two but its’ not your main source of income; maybe you just love to paint.
In this brand new series, seven talented amateur painters will compete. Two professional judges will set challenges and oversee proceedings. Three painters will make the final. One painter will win the inaugural Painting The Nation title and their final painting will become a public piece of art.
RTÉ One and Independent pictures are now looking for non-professional artists to apply for this new and exciting painting competition. Have you – or anyone you know – got the talent, skills and passion to take part? We would love to hear from you. You can check the eligibility criteria and download an application form here
If you would like further information or an application form sent to you directly please contact Independent Pictures on 01-7088135 or 01-7088184, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send your completed application in as soon as you can, but no later than close of business on Wednesday 20th July 2016. (Deadline updated 09.07.2016).
In order for the production team to assess your suitability for the series please answer questions as completely as possible. Please include photographs of two of your paintings via email or by post. This is for the production team to form a first impression of your work. If you are submitting the photographs separate to your application please ensure that you provide your name and contact details with the submissions. Please note that we will not be able to return the photographs to you.
Filming is scheduled to take place in August 2016.
You must be aged 18 years or above on 1st June 2016 to enter.
If your application has been shortlisted for the next stage of the casting process you will be telephoned by one of the production team.
If you have any questions relating to the application form or the television series, please call Andrew Mills on 01-7088135 or Ciara Kerrigan on 01-7088184, or email us at: email@example.com
As you know Rod Coyne presents his unique “1916 Portrait Collection” at the Hollywood Fair. This exhibition is free, all are welcome. But what you didn’t know is that to celebrate the exhibition we are discounting the whole Canvas Print collection 33% at the Fair and online.
And now Rod has created two prints especially for the Hollywood Fair 2016. The Steam Engine and The Majorwhich will also be discounted during the Hollywood Fair.
Rod returns to the Hollywood Fair
Artist Rod Coyne presents his unique 1916 Portrait Collection at the Hollywood Fair. This exhibition is free, all are welcome. For those of you who missed out on the Tinahely Exhibition earlier this year here’s your chance for a second bite of the cherry. Just a half hour from Dublin on the N81 will transport you into a by-gone age. The vintage fair is more than just a charming spectacle, visitors are encouraged to dress in the fashion of the day and become part of the event.
This year’s vintage 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 Ireland’s oldest operational church from 7 – 9pm on Saturday 20th and 2 – 6pm on Sunday 21st August 2016.
Rod Coyne has created an exclusive series of portraits remembering key faces of the 1916 Easter Rising. The artist blends contemporary and classical painting to draw together the vastly diverse photographic sources. The unity of style he achieves underlines the diverse nature of the Risings’ protagonists and how they bound together in common purpose. This collection of portraits, currently available as 1916 Centenary Calendar and canvas prints, will be exhibited in the St. Kevin’s Church, Hollywood, County Wicklow, Ireland.
Hollywood, Co Wicklow and Hollywood, California
Foreign tourists who stumble on Hollywood in the course of their travels can often be seen posing for photographs in front of Guirkes’ old shop. The prominent sign on the facade Oifig an Phoist – Hollywood Post Office is clearly what draws them. Intrigued that such a small village can boast such a legendary name they feel the need to capture the moment on camera. If they take the time to make further inquiries the same tourists are even more astonished when they discover that this small village in west Wicklow is actually the original Hollywood and that from it came the California Hollywood, home of the movie industry.