Irish landscape artist Ivan Daly’s paintings of the West of Ireland reveal that even in overcast weather the coastline is mesmeric …
Tell us about the background to your current online exhibition …
The current exhibition with The Doorway Gallery includes paintings from the coastline just north of White Strand near Miltown Malbay in Co Clare I have been working on since the end of last year and the most recent additions. When I took walks there it was mostly overcast and drizzly so that aspect has influenced most of the work, which continues the exploration of the shore here in terms of compositional possibilities.
Clare has a lot to offer in terms of coastline. There are the popular surf beaches of Lahinch and Spanish Point which are great for day-tripping and relaxing. The walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher is a stunning trek and is one of my favourites. Of course, you have Loop Head and the Kilkee Cliffs also. For painting and sketching, I am attracted to the more anonymous places north of Doolin and again Spanish Point. I have much more to discover though.
The sea is about 40 mins drive away from our home In Newmarket on Fergus. I usually pack up my art gear and get to the coast for a day every couple of weeks to revisit a site or walk further afield. I think memory needs to be refreshed by these visits too as it plays a part in the painting process.
I grew up by Clonea beach in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. That whole coast was a place to discover in my youth and still is when I visit the family home. I do get a longing for the open spaces that only the sea can provide, so I guess working this subject is a return of sorts.
How and where do you work?
I have a studio in our home. It’s the garage of an 1980’s bungalow so it’s part of the house. When my wife Bronagh and I moved in over six years ago, I insulated it and laid inexpensive flooring and also changed the garage door for French doors. It has been a great area to work in with plenty of light.
My process can vary but it usually starts with gathering information in the form of sketches, notes, video, photographs, small on-site paintings. These are collected from walking along the coast as off-track as I can. I like the discovery of a visually dramatic area or seeing the ‘fall of the land’ as something I could use. I take all this back to the studio and work off this material to make charcoal sketches, small acrylic paintings and so on, just to feel around and see what works. I favour contrasts and place importance on how the basic elements compose together. Sometimes I dive in if I am feeling lucky and begin a painting if I am confident and see how it progresses.
Who or what sparked your interest in landscape painting?
I have always had an interest in depicting environments or landscapes that surrounded me in some way growing up in rural Waterford. I also loved futuristic things – movies, comics, sci-fi, and I drew imaginary places, cities with characters mostly. College work focused on urban themes and settings. Over the years, my landscape work was a reflection of areas we lived in and visited, a method to capture a time and place through sketching and painting. Journeys to the coast in more recent years with our camper was a catalyst in directing my focus towards coastal topography as a subject matter.
Nick Miller’s “Truckscapes” in Limerick City Gallery in the mid Noughties made a big impression on me as well as Donald Teskey’s show “Tidal Narratives”. Back then, it showed me the genre of landscape was still alive and was actively practiced. My influences are plentiful: Paul Henry, John Virtue, William Leech, Sean Casey, Whistler’s Thames nocturnes, Turner, William Wray, Alex Kanevsky – anything that grabs my attention and I can learn from really.
You trained as a printmaker before swapping to painting in oils…
Yes, I worked mostly in lithography and woodcuts and was a member for a short term at Limerick Printmakers after I finished my degree. I began working in the growing computer industry in 2000 onwards and we eventually moved out of the city so it was more difficult to continue printing at the studios, though I sometimes made prints at home. Painting was something I did to supplement my print work and I wanted to give that some time to develop. I learned to work confidently with oils over a period of time and they suited my working schedule. Eventually I would like to get back printing – I think where I am with my paintings at the moment would make interesting prints.
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