The Italian paintbox

When I was in Rome earlier this year as part of this Pilgrimage year,  I remembered those tiny paint boxes that we used to get for Christmas when I was a kid. Each little square or tube of colour had an unfathomable name; Yellow Ochre, Warm Sienna, Burnt Umber, Terracotta, Vermillion. I had no idea what they were or how they should be used. Not for the green fields and purple hills of Ireland anyway....

Later when I studied art in college I began quite literally to get the picture. These were the paint colours of the Italian Masters because they were the authentic colours of their daily lives!

In Italy everything depends on this golden palette of colours. The washy watery tints that cover the buildings, the interiors, even the food seems to based on that little paintbox of warm hues. From the courgette flowers in the market to the majestic painted domes of the churches, colours are warm and deep.

As the Ireland begins to turn to away from the sun, I am travelling again to another majestic city, Stockholm in Sweden. I've enjoyed feeling at home in some beautiful places and if you are wondering what the colour palette in Stockholm might be, next week all will be revealed. Expect to be surprised!

For more of the Rome photos checkout the Gallery here


Enveloped in the purest of pure gold

It's been three and a half years now since I finally made the decision to live again the artist's life that I had dreamt of as a teenager. Even though for 20 years I kept the Artist's Way beside the bed, it was only recently that like a bolt of lightening it hit me, it was now or never! The voice in my head that said you are not a true artist has gone away and I refuse ever let that be an issue again.

It's not about recognition or approval. I blog as a way to share and to somehow make evidence for myself that I am growing and creating a body of work. Starting to blog has been key in completing the creative circle; showing the work. 

And that is why each of you has been so much part of my recovery. Sounds like I had an addiction to something? I think it was survivor guilt in my case.....but that's another story......

Over the last months I've been messing about with a little book about the creative path and putting together a month by month notebook of photos and words which have kept me going over the last few years. I got the first copy of it in the post from Blurb and although it is tiny (7"x7") it is juicy and full of things I've learned along the way. I look forward to sharing it with you when I iron out a few further details. It's called "Seek light, embrace shade and live colour"

Added to that bit of excitement the Foxglove Lane Studio Blog is again a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards. Also in the finals is my friend Eadaoin from  City of Blackbirds. She is a gifted photographer and gave me lots of great advice about blogging when I was starting out and didn't even know her! Her blog is a pure joy to follow. 

I continue to work hard. Managing a day job and an artist's path means there is never, ever a dull moment. And maybe that's all anyone could wish for?  The summer sun has seeped into my bones and as September envelops us all in the purest of pure gold.......that fading summer sun.....I thank each of you for your encouragement and support. 

And if you love golden light too check out the Golden gallery here


To whom are we beautiful?

In the beginning there is a thick mist. 

Somewhere the dawn is breaking but on the lane this morning it happens slowly. A tractor engine is idling. He's warming the engine while he empties the dregs of a pot of tea down on top of two slices of brown bread and marmalade. 

The warm September light filters through, dappled spotlights along the way. By evening time the freezer will be crammed with blackberries, plums and an assortment of currants and apples. Sweetness to be added to morning oatmeal and yoghurt on a winter's day. 

For now it's time to harvest all the good memories of summer as we get ready for the big hibernation. And walking back I repeat again these favourite lines....

I wish I understood the beauty 
in leaves falling.
To whom are we beautiful 
as we go? 

~David Ignatow


Early morning web magic

Very early in the morning, before the sun casts it's spell, there are spidery webs everywhere. Have you ever seen the heavy curtains of sparkly fabric draped between the branches, leaves and blossoms? The first time I saw this phenomenon I was shocked by how much of the land is covered in the creative productions of what must be an army of arachnids!

When it's early like this, the light is soft and dew highlights the patterns and extent of this magical world. By sun up when most people begin to go about their daily lives, the webs have dried out and are strangely invisible again.

Besides the fact that I am not a morning person (in the slightest) over the last three years I have taken every opportunity to get out early with the camera and experience the slowly emerging day. It's a time of calm before the onslaught of alarms ringing and phones hopping. Wandering through this secret webby world always sets me up for a much more positive start to the day ahead. (Except when I lock myself out of the house in the dead of winter!)

This month you can see another web image of mine showing in a group exhibition called Being Here in Aoife's Gallery in Waterford City. This photograph was taken one icy morning in winter when the dawn light created a mini light show of rainbow colours. You can see the image HERE

And if you share this weird fascination for webs You can also visit the Gallery of Web photos here.


In their stillness

Every year I choose a word to guide me on my way. Last January I chose Pilgrimage and set out to undertake "a long journey especially one undertaken as a quest, or for a votive purpose, to pay homage."

As an agnostic, sitting on the fence as to what it's all about, I am still drawn to the idea of devotion. To what? I'm not sure I can describe it in words.....a grounding and reverence for nature, for people, for beauty? If I would pay homage to anything at all then that's what it might be....

In July I was 60 and it felt like a turning point. If I live until I am 90 then this is the beginning of the third age, the last part of my life. I am the older generation in my family, both parents are gone now. My Mother died at only 33, so I am probably also paying homage to the opportunity to simply be alive at all! The Pilgrimage was a way to celebrate the freedom of still being here on this planet and in one piece....

These wanderings have taken me to Italy, Greece, Austria, the Wild Atlantic Way, with next stop Sweden. In between I have been sitting very still and absorbing it all. A bit cut off socially, working hard in my day job and also developing new projects as part of my photography passion, I have spent a lot of time in the company of birds.

Birds tend to flit and twitch nervously but sometimes they seem to just meditate. I imagine them sitting for portraits, "Just turn your head a little to the left......" I say, and they sometimes listen in a moment of pause...

Since moving my workspace even closer to them, I know their characters, their songs, and these moments of stillness we share in the closing months of this Pilgrimage route.

And then as is their nature, they simply take flight....

See more birds here in the Gallery

I loved this further reading too on How to be alone from Brain Pickings


Always the people's favourite

The sky is impossible to ignore. Here in rural Ireland we are mesmerised by it. Approaching weather systems come up from the Atlantic south west and we peer into the distance for information, comfort and possible impending doom.

When I began to share my photography on line through the blog and on social media, it became clear that I wasn't alone in this fascination. My statistics would go through the roof when I posted a sunrise/sunset photo, and so I shared lots of them, even though sunsets are renowned as a cliched image to be avoided at all costs!

In reality no sunset is a cliche. Each is a once off, unique, live, light show. It's even easy to think that you are a great photographer when in fact you just show up and Mother Nature does the all work. That's the way it is with sunsets, the magic is just present in the light......

Tonight on the drive home through County Carlow I was seduced yet again by the golden hour. A combine harvester was creating an extra layer of dust and this seemed to act like a filter for the lens.
Standing there under a deep terracotta sky, besotted by the gloaming, I remembered the words of a reader from Brazil,"when the sun rises it is for everyone." 

Sunsets and sunrises will always be the people's favourite.....


I am taking part in a Group Exhibition called Being Here and you are all invited to the opening on September 12th @7.30 in Aoife's Gallery, Parnell Street, Waterford


To hell or to Connacht ~ Pilgrimage

With the phrase "to hell or to Connacht" attributed to Cromwell ringing in their ears, the native Irish were banished to the west. Their handprints are on every stone, making tiny fields of rock and sand dividing the land between the hungry multitudes. The walls of Connemara still rise up over the highest hills and down into the graveyards all along the shorelines. They must have thought more than once that hell would have been a handier alternative.

Out here today on an archipelago of islands and inlets, their stone piers are perfect diving places with sandy bays providing sheltered sunbathing for cattle and wilderness seekers. There's no need to get fancy with the camera because most of the time just being here would take the eye out of your head.

In January I set out on this Pilgrimage to pace my way into a 60th birthday following some new and some old familiar paths. By the time the big birthday came in July I was a bit weary from travelling and more than a bit underwhelmed by the prospect of my next decade. On the following day I was already getting over myself (!!) and planning the next trip, taking in some of the Wild Atlantic Way. Kerry would celebrate friendship while Connemara was about reconnecting with family.

Everywhere I've been, I have fallen in love; the turquoise coves and mountain meadows of the Peleponese; the ancient ruins and cobbled streets of Italy and Greece; the ruined cottages and farm sheds of Ireland. The way we live, what we eat, the beauty of our animals and birds.

The Pilgrimage year has been an eye opener for myself and himself too. After almost 40 years together, it seems that once you point us in the same direction with a promise of a meander, we wander around like two happy kids at a fun fair. 

In Connemara after celebrating an elder family member's 93rd birthday, I wondered what will I be doing when I turn 93? What will you be doing?