After a wonderful fall semester spent in Southern California, I have finally arrived in the beautiful village of Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland as a student of the Burren College of Art. I’ll be drawing, painting, and adventuring my way well through April here, and will probably traveling for some time after that.
Before I get into anything else, though, let me just tell you this – Ireland is incredible.
Whatever you may have seen or heard of Ireland from books and postcards could not possibly do this place justice. This is something that needs to be experienced – the fresh air, “soft” days, the lingering scent of cows and horses, unique landscape littered with old stone walls, the remarkably still and starry nights. I have never felt such a connection with the land before coming here. Needless to say, it hasn’t take me long to settle.
Having been here for the better part of a month already, and with the help of plenty personal expeditions and numerous school-led excursions (including tours of the Burren, fairy forts/trees, old castles, and the remarkable phenomena of turloughs), I have gotten a chance to essentially get the lay of the land (and also to befriend many of the local dogs and horses under the coaxing of the irresistible Jacob’s digestive biscuits).
Though mostly American, the students are from a variety of art schools from the States. I once again have the unique opportunity to learn a little bit from everyone. So far, working beside illustration, paper-making, and book-making majors (just to name a few) has provided me with some excellent exposure into other disciplines. I am also fortunate enough to have an excellent set of housemates with a ready supply of great music, plenty of laughs, and loads of delicious vegan cooking.
Needless to say, though, I have had no shortage of things to draw. Somewhere between the old Irish men gathered at Logues Lodge in the evening, the cattle that graze by the school, the hundreds of beautiful bottles at O’Loclainn’s Irish Whiskey Bar, our excellent model for Life Drawing, Top Cat (the school’s resident cat), and plenty more, I have already finished one sketchbook, am well into my second, and am currently binding my third.
Speaking of artworks, I have taken the opportunity of this extended period of time with a sizable studio space to jump straight back into my fellowship work (on comparing prize fighting in the 1920’s to dog fighting in the Middle East today). Though still obviously in their earliest stages, I have used the space to my advantage, and have begun my biggest works yet (two paintings nearly seven feet square each). While the task is certainly daunting, I am excited to be working on such large canvases – especially for this series.
All in all, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here thus far, and am thrilled with the beautiful environment and the relaxed, yet supportive attitude of the school and its students. I am delighted to be here, and will posting further adventures in the near future.
“This is a cry of hunger for experience in the deep and fulfilling sense of the word.” – Journal of a Solitude, May Sarton