Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

A Corking Good Opportunity… Part 2

Monday, September 1st, 2014

As I wrote last time, when the tour of Ireland we had signed up for was canceled only a month before our anticipated departure, our tentative plans appeared to be falling through. Greatly to our relief, we were able to find an alternative coach tour, which, though not as extensive as the original one, seemed like a suitable substitute. Like the original one, we would disembark from our cruise in Cobh, take a train to Cork, and after a night’s stay there, proceed to Dublin to join our tour group.

140603a Through Irish Mist,

The day we arrived in Cork, my camera’s viewing screen suddenly stopped working properly. Although the camera continued to record images (as confirmed when I tried to upload them to our computer), I couldn’t see either the preview or the confirmation image to verify the picture or its alignment. And in order to minimize both weight and bulk in our packing, I had decided against carrying my usual backup camera. So for the remainder of the trip, I would be shooting blind, hoping to obtain enough usable photos to satisfy my needs in the studio through the coming months.

As it turned out, I managed to get very few display-worthy photographs with the pray-and-shoot method, but because I was later able to edit and reconfigure with the help of Photoshop, and adjust compositions during the painting process, I did wind up with a usable supply of adaptable reference material. What blessed relief it was to realize that!

Our one “free day,” during which I had hoped to meet my Virtual Art Academy colleagues, was no longer on the schedule. Instead, we were left with only a few evening hours available for visiting. But one of my friends made a special effort to join me for dinner that evening, which I appreciated. The other was unable to coordinate with us.

Ireland was indeed picturesque and full of landscapes well worth painting. The cool, moist weather contributes to that beauty but not much to the comfort of painters working in the open air. And although mist and fog provide lovely atmospheric effects, as in “Through Irish Mist” (#140603), above, they can also obliterate one’s view of otherwise promising landscapes.

This was the case when we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher—a towering shoreline of sheer precipices overlooking the Atlantic ocean. The churning water was just warm enough in relation to the cooler air above it to create a fog so dense that, even from the path along the cliff top, we were unable to see beyond the very edge of the cliff and could get no perspective of the distance down to the ocean water we knew lay almost 1000 feet below. With the magic, once again, of Photoshop, I was able to pull out a ghost image from a photograph I had shot through the fog. This was enough to paint from.

The result, as you can see in “On the Cliffs of Moher” (#140607) below, is more of the atmospheric conditions of the trail along the top of the cliffs than of the cliffs themselves.

140607a On the Cliffs of Moher,

I’m glad we went to Ireland. I’ve gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the land as well as the resilience and resourcefulness of its people. And that’s what traveling is all about. If I can express even a fraction of that appreciation through my paintings, the trip will have been a success.

A Corking Good Opportunity? …Or Cruising for a Bruising? Part 1

Friday, August 15th, 2014

I think my husband must have been a travel agent in some former lifetime. He is always on the lookout for a good travel bargain and seems to enjoy poking around online to compare and evaluate our various travel alternatives. In February, he appealed to my wunderlust by telling me about a repositioning cruise opportunity he had seen. Departing from Miami, it would stop in New York City, and then from Halifax, Nova Scotia, would trace the reverse of the Titanic’s route, stopping again in Cobh, Ireland, enroute to Harwich, England.

140301w Travel Plans

After some discussion, we decided to take advantage of the cruise but with a slight change in itinerary. We planned to disembark early, in Cobh, rather than remaining on the ship the rest of the way to England. We would catch a train or bus from nearby Cork to Dublin to pick up a coach tour around Ireland. This would provide us with relaxed transportation, a knowledgeable guide, excellent accommodations (though with less of the small-town local flavor than we seek when we travel independently), most of our meals, and a good overview of the island, which neither of us had ever previously seen.

I contacted a couple of online friends—colleagues from the Virtual Art Academy—one who lives in County Mayo and another who lives closer to Dublin. They both arranged to meet me on our tour’s one free day so we could become better acquainted and, weather permitting, perhaps enjoy some plein air painting together in Connemara.

After having spent a warm, comparatively dry winter amid the dense tropical foliage that surrounds us in Southwest Florida, while the rest of the United States was digging out from unusually heavy snow and frigid temperatures, I certainly had no grounds for complaint; but I was ready for a change and actually looked forward to the cooler temperatures, misting rains, and bright spring greens that I’d heard were typical of the Emerald Isle. I also looked forward, as always, to filling my camera with fresh images to inspire a new series of paintings.

Hanging over our heads was the ever-present, but largely ignored, question of whether our travel plans would move along as smoothly as we hoped. Or would we get tripped up? Would my friends and I be able to get together to canvass our painting opportunities?

A month before we were to leave, we received the unwelcome announcement that the coach tour we had booked had been cancelled. Ouch! That was a wrinkle we certainly hadn’t counted on. We scrambled to see if we could find an alternative tour that would suit us as well. Unfortunately, it meant that the planned get-together with my friends would probably fall by the wayside, which was most disappointing!

As you will have gathered if you have been following my blog, we did make it to Ireland. Next time I’ll tell you more.