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A Galway Girl

Galway Girl's eyes

Rain washed Galway is nestled between Lough Corrib and a stretch of wild Atlantic sea that rolls along Galway bay. It is a medieval city of about 80,000 folks, noted for having a rich cultural tradition. Which finds it’s expression in the many forms. Such as July’s Art festival of street performances, Parades, plays, musical concerts and international Artists. To the annual Horse racing festival in Ballbrit with it’s fashionable ladies and tailored gents.

Throughout the year most Pubs are graced with a variety of talented musicians. Playing music from every strip and stripe of the spectrum. Which is probably among the reasons why Galway is currently the European Capital of Culture for 2020, alongside the Croatian city of Rijeka

Being the principle city in the West of Ireland it has a rich vein of folk and traditional music practitioners. Where guitars, Fiddles, Bodhrans and Accordions are not an uncommon cite or sound upon the cobbles stone of Shop st or the shade of buttermilk lane. That, coupled the odd pint, the harsh fineness of it Men and the ferocious beauty of it’s women makes it’s no wonder that two famous musician both pinned Songs of some acclaim about “the Galway girl”.

Galway Girl- work in progress
painting progression

Steve Earle first wrote about the titular Galway Girl and whirling her about the Salthill promenade around the turn of the millennium. (Caution: if the wind catches you there, you may end up whirling for hours!). The other version called Galway girl , is by the Songwriting scallywag Ed Sheeran. Which at last viewing had over 460 million views on YouTube, that’s more than all the people that live in Galway and it’s Suburbs and hinterlands!

All of these influences blended together and fed into my Painting The Galway Girl, Shawl and all (Feat. Ed Shearing). I pictured a woman with hair of black and eyes of blue. A woman that wouldn’t look out of place on Ladies day at the races, with her eloquent poise and contemporary fashionable Galway shawl (that’s another cracking folk song).

She is sitting in Eyre Square, resting a moment between belting out a few lively tunes on her fiddle. She does this just as much for her own amusement as for the delight of the lucky passers-by. She’d had her ups and down and she’s learn’t you’ve got to look out for number one first.

Galway Girl -Feat Ed shearing
Galway Girl -Feat Ed shearing (Oil on Board)

Over her right hand shoulder is the fountain with Éamonn O’Doherty sculpture of the Hooker sails. Which is a nod to the cities maritime history and traditional fishing boat used in Galway Bay. The sculpture was installed to mark the quin-centenary of Galway’s incorporation as a city in year of our lord 1984.

Over her right should is The Browne doorway. Relocated to the Eyre square in 1905 after being taken from Browne family townhouse on lower Abbeygate. Where it was build in 1627, as the Brownes being one of the fourteen Tribes ruling of Galway, i presume were living high on the hog

There are a few sheep roaming about the Square. This is due to Ed kindly volunteering to do a little shearing. The wool I gathered up and sent off, to be converted in to these Cotton T-shirts: Galway Girl (feat Ed Shearing)

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A Hobbiton Hike

A hobbiton Hike, commissioned Portrait

Being a fan of all things middle-earth, I was delighted to get the opportunity to create this unique Fun Art Portrait just before Christmas. It was to be a surprise a birthday gift with the brief of “having Nick sat with a hobbit house in back ground, in walking boots with a glass of red wine, wearing his rugby shirt.” To also include three Jack Russells somewhere in there as well. I set about sketching up the best composition and once we were all happy with the layout i got stuck into the Fun part of the process, Painting it.


My process is always one of building up the Painting in layers, starting with Blocking in the all colour areas. The biggest mistake i used to make was focusing on getting all the detail done in one section say a face only to discover my relational values were out of whack, usually far to bright as i was judging darkness section again the white or ochre stained canvas and not the blue sky or green foliage background that would be there in the finished painting.
Once you have the initial block in you then continually add layer of dark shadow section and bright highlighted sections, twerking where necessary until your happy with the work. You could keep on going, refining and layering for ever but i like to leave some of the brushwork evident, it gives the portrait it own character and texture. With Oil Paints you have to allow time for each layer to dry before working on top of it, i prefer to allow it dry for a week before adding the final Varnish. Once it has fully dried i package it up safely and pop it in the post so it can be send it off to it new home.

A Hobbiton hike -with D.P. O Malley