My early works are nearly all watercolour. They combine, the watercolour rendering skills I was learning as a young student architect in Bolton St College between 1980 -1985, with the imaginative images that at times flourished in my mind’s eye. They are crafted in thin washes of diluted water colour carefully controlled, with the sense of distance conveyed through the delicate use of weaker more transparent colour.
That approach to image making changed dramatically for me for 2 reasons. I had the good fortune to visit Amsterdam on a 4th year college architectural student trip in 1984. During our stay, I took an afternoon off on my own, and visited the Van Gogh Museum where I was stunned most of all, by the vividness of Vincent’s colours. Pure vibrant unadulterated reds and greens sitting comfortably in the middle distance and even at times on, or near, the horizon line; The Bridge at Arles or Fishing Boats on the Beach being examples.
I really wanted to learn and understand how this could be, being so different from the watercolour rendering and use of colour that I was used to. I felt strongly, the need to face for me what appeared to be the more daunting prospect of oil painting. That opportunity came shortly after qualifying as an architect, when I attended first year Fine Art at The Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design in 1985/86. I could only afford to spend a year there and needed to face the real world of architecture immediately thereafter. However, I continued to paint 1 to 2 days a week, something I have done for much of my life, working also, 4 to 5 days a week as an architect.