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The first sign of Spring!

January 14, 2015

I couldn’t wish for a better start of spring, which this year came early – in January!

I have an opportunity to introduce you to Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Irish painter (and photographer), who has prepared a lovely guest blog post. You’ll see the first signs of awakening Nature, find out about abandoned houses in rural Ireland and discover what subject and why Eoin has chosen for his paintings.

Anyway, I’d better let him tell you everything himself… 

— — —

Yes, I agree that it’s dark and cold these days… But then, in the middle of all that darkness, there’s one thing that always gives me a boost – and that’s Snowdrops. Every year in the middle of January, they force their way out of the cold ground to greet the new year. They pop up outside my back door, on the way down to my art studio and they nod their little heads in the wind and the rain. Wouldn’t they bring a smile to the grouchiest person?

Mac-Lochlainn-snowdrops

Now, here’s a photo, taken on the 8th of January. (I keep photographing them, in the same spot, year after year, I just can’t help it). Whenever the light catches them… oh, they just give me a lift. It means that life is beginning again, that we have another chance, that maybe this time, we’ll get things right, or at least ‘better than before’.

But I’m not a photographer like Kristina, I’m a painter mostly, but I take a lot of photos as references for my paintings. Sometimes, I get lucky when the light is right, or when the wind dies down at the right moment. (What I find with the Snowdrops is that they hardly ever stop bobbing around in the breeze – it’s nearly impossible to keep them in focus).

Mac-Lochlainn-photo

Anyway, I take a lot of photographs and my main subject in recent months has been old abandoned houses in rural Ireland (mainly in County Donegal), and in particular, the empty fireplaces. Because of the economic crash of recent years, thousands have been forced to emigrate from the country in search of work. There are countless instances of houses being left to fall into decay, with no one left to mind them. I was drawn to the old fireplaces because they seemed to hold such emotion in their empty grates, so many stories, so many ghosts… they say that the fire was always kept lighting in those old hearths, that there was always a kettle on the boil or clothes drying or someone warming themselves in front of it… but now the place is silent, abandoned, woebegone.

Mac-Lochlainn-painting

Using the photographs as reference, I am working on a series of painting of ‘empty hearths’ and I will be having an exhibition of them later on in 2015 at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin. Some people might ask: why not just photograph the fireplaces, and show them as they are? Wouldn’t that be more authentic? Well, I don’t know. There is something about the time it takes to make a painting that invests them with more than just the flat image. Kristina has written that a photograph tells a story whereas a painting has a soul. Perhaps that’s it – I know that when I paint, I am acutely aware of the different “characters” of the various fireplaces. I regard each painting as a sort of portrait of the person or family who once tended to it.

Anyway, I don’t think that my photographs are good enough to present in exhibition. But you can judge for yourselves – which do you prefer of the two images above, the photo or the painting? Which do you think is more authentic? I’d love to hear from you.

Also, you can see more of my work here:

– on my blog Scéalta Ealaíne at: https://emacl.wordpress.com/
– or my website at: www.eoinmaclochlainn.com
– or my gallery at: http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2015 6:38 pm

    Wonderful post.

    • January 20, 2015 5:05 pm

      I agree. It’s very well written introduction into the artist’s World. K.

  2. January 21, 2015 9:19 pm

    An interesting post and very powerful work, plus a little bit of something to lift the winter spirit, what better than snowdrops.

    • January 26, 2015 2:59 pm

      Thank you, Johno, for leaving this nice comment. I’m sure Eoin will be glad to hear you liked his photograph of snowdrops. K.

  3. January 26, 2015 8:54 pm

    I think both photos and paintings or other handmade artworks can have immense amounts of soul. It’s what the individual artist brings to it that’s the determining factor. In your case, the photo’s lovely, but the painting is both compelling and story-filled: richer, denser, and therefore, more beautiful to me. You’ve imbued it with greater meaning, with every tweak of the light, with your choice of viewpoint and cropping, with each brushstroke that directs my attention to this or that bit of important texture and color. Marvelous post, wonderful artwork!
    Cheers,
    Kathryn

  4. January 27, 2015 5:49 pm

    Thanks very much Kathryn, for your thoughtful comment. I think I prefer the painting myself because I felt that I got to know the place/home as I worked on it. I never knew the family but it felt like their spirits had lingered on in the dust and the cobwebs. eoin

    • January 27, 2015 7:23 pm

      I do agree, Eoin—I love that places seem to have the ability to retain the history and spirit of what has passed through them, if we’re attentive and patient enough to suss it out. 🙂

  5. February 22, 2015 1:03 pm

    Your snowdrops make me wanna draw/paint them immediately! 🙂 Thanks!

    • March 1, 2015 11:18 am

      go for it!!! 🙂

      • March 1, 2015 11:46 am

        I’m gonna do it today and post tomorrow. I’d love to link back to your photo, if you’d like? It really is magnificent.

      • March 1, 2015 12:35 pm

        Hello Seagull 🙂 (I don’t know your real name). I’ve been looking at your blog and it’s really great ! Wow, you ‘re a busy creator. I love your portraits best, I think, although I also like the animals… yes, of course, do link back to me, I look forward to seeing your painting, thanks for your comment

      • March 1, 2015 1:49 pm

        Thank you so much! Man, I could change my name to Seagull and live happily ever after, I think. It’s Laura, though. Not quite so dashing or exciting. Will do, and I am really looking forward to it. I searched snowdrops and no photo out there compares to this one.

  6. mvobsession permalink
    February 26, 2015 7:33 pm

    The snowdrops are beautiful,
    Normally I prefer photographs over paintings but I like the painted fireplace better in this case. I think your painting gives warmth and depth to the fireplace.
    I also love old houses, there’s a story in each one… if only they could talk 🙂

  7. March 1, 2015 11:26 am

    Thanks MV, yes, we can only imagine the stories… maybe that’s why they attract us, they rouse the imagination !

  8. March 5, 2015 4:05 pm

    i love your concept of hearth photos and paintings! such a powerful symbol of human emotions of belonging and losing and remembering… ignites my imagination.

  9. March 18, 2015 7:25 pm

    My favorite image is the second image? the one without the chair). I’m guessing that’s the painting. The photo is dry, matter of fact. Your painting evokes an emotional response which is what we painters strive for and you’ve achieved. The colors, the detail in the burned detritus, the detail of the painted surfaces, composition, light, everything in it speaks to human tragedy, sadness. “Empty hearths” is a poignant title that says it all. Keep working on it and showing your work. Congrats on a truly fine work.

  10. March 21, 2015 4:37 pm

    Hi Susan, Thank you for your encouraging words. I’ve been away and I’ve only just now noticed your comment. Yes, I wasn’t sure if I’d include the armchair in the painting and in the end, I decided against it. I can imagine, though, sitting in front of that fire, staring into the flames and… no, I suppose I just don’t know what finally transpired in that old house.

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