Sea Garden Studio is located just outside the beautiful village of Glengarriff. Barbara Becker has created a space to work within her wonderful garden, which has many species of trees and other plants where she creates her oil paintings of West Cork. The property looks out across Bantry Bay and serves as constant inspiration with its dramatic rocks, spectacular skies and shimmering water. Glengarriff is part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
The following paintings form a body of work inspired by West Cork, but also the southwestern United States and Tasmania.
"View from Home - Bocarnagh" in West Cork Medium: oil on canvas Size: 60cm x 60cm Looking north from our house across the rugged little valleys, the morning shadows help describe the intersecting angles and vegetation. In the spring, some of the trees look pink and fluffy against the bright greens.
"Big Bend Chasm" in Texas Medium: oil on canvas Size: 101cm x 76cm The steep walls of these rocky chasms were created by the Rio Grande as it winds it's way south. This painting was inspired by a road trip we did to Mexico going off the main highways and heading down through Fort Stockton to Laredo.
On a trip to Utah in late 2019, we hiked through the Arches National Monument. The massive forms, strong light and muted colours of the desert were very inspiring. I have done a number of paintings of this region.
The Painting Process
Oil painting is a complex medium which has enormous potential. Layers of colour can be built up to show light and shadow. Colour can be opaque or transparent. The paint brush becomes a drawing tool or can create a sculptural quality. It takes a lot of time to learn its secrets.
"Bonane Far View" Medium: Oil on Canvas Size: 60cm x 60cm
Travelling down the road from the Caha tunnel going towards Kenmare in Co. Kerry, I looked across the valley to my right and saw farmhouses in the distance. The stone walls between the fields create a patchwork over the rolling ground. This painting was done using many layers of glazes. This made the trees appear transparent and the scene to have a glowing effect.
"Calder NW Tasmania Trees" Medium: Oil on Canvas Size: 101cm x 76cm
From 2005 to 2010 we lived in NW Tasmania near the town of Wynyard on the coast. We had a 40 acre property with rolling grassy fields and areas of eucalyptus trees and pines. This painting is a large version of a very small piece based on the view from our kitchen window. I love the cast shadows under the tightly grouped tall trees and how they describe the sloping land. The soil there is a rich red, and contrasts with the various greens and browns.
"Bonane Hillside Farm" Medium: Oil on Canvas Size: 60cm x 60cm
The valley of Bonane lies between the Caha Mountain tunnels and the town of Kenmare in Co. Kerry. From the top of the hill you can see the valley spreading out with high tops on both sides. The hillside farms are up against the hill and on the right day are brightly lit from the side. The painting above was done from a photo I took with a zoom lens. This scene has all the elements needed for an interesting composition. The zig-zag road running up the hill behind the house draws the eye across the painting and up into the distance. The cast shadows create beautiful shapes and describe the light on the day. The small sheds are perfectly arranged to vary the play of light and colour of the roofs.
"Through the Window" Medium: Oil on Canvas Size: 50cm x 50cm
Through the window was inspired by an exhibit in the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe New Mexico. It really caught my eye with the rabbits sitting in a circle all looking into the centre as if they are having a meeting. Irish hares inhabit my garden and are generally well-behaved and don’t eat my plants. In this painting, the hare is perplexed by the circle of bunnies. The window is the same one in the paintings Eurasian Jay, and Hooded Crow and Shells. This painting came from my intermittent interest in mythology which has to have a voice every now and then. It also relates to a life-long affection for the story of Alice in Wonderland. I have often spent time in the realm of the overlap between the animal world and humankind.
"Dursey Rocks” Medium: Oil On Canvas Size: 76cm x 101cm
This is situated in the far west of the Beara Peninsula near Dursey Island. I was sitting in the front of an inflatable boat when I took the photo as reference for this painting. The drama of the rocks was like going into a labyrinth. We actually went through the tunnel in the rock and it gave me the feeling of being in a secret place created by wind and water. Sharp shadows with high contrast help to describe the jagged edges of the outcrops.
"Eyeries Hill” Medium: Oil On Canvas Size: 76cm x 101cm
Driving from Eyeries to Castletownbere offers stunning views of dramatic hills and valleys. The folds in the landscape create a sense of flowing and folding. The mercurial weather produces surprise areas of strong sunlight next to deep shadows. In this painting I eliminated all references to houses or farms so that the viewer’s eye could be seduced by the sensuousness of the geography.
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