Vicarstown – Oil Painting


Vicarstown is a small village north of Athy, Co. Kildare. Half-way to Monasterevin on the canal route. The canal was extended from Dublin to Athy, via Vicarstown, in 1791. Passengers could now travel from Athy to Dublin in relative comfort and safety. The journey took 13 hours to travel the 50 miles. The fare was very expensive. Mary Leadbeater, the Quaker writer from Ballitore near Athy (she was the grand aunt of Ernest Shackleton), described passengers who undertook the journey to Dublin as ‘half gentry’ and noted that ‘ there was card playing’.

Vicarstown Photo

I wanted to paint a recognisable scene for a change. Much of what I have been doing lately was from imagination based on memory. I worked from a photograph, which I have included here, to keep me on track. There was very little of the ‘sense of place’ in the photo, so I had to add to the scene without straying off too much. The landscape is flat. This stretch of canal travels all the way from Athy to Monasterevin (13 miles) without any locks (to adjust for different levels in the landscape). Its a bit like Holland so I did what the Dutch artists would have done when confronted by flat featureless landscape – create an enormous open sky.

Another feature of this painting worth noting is the limited palette. There are only 3 colours used. Burnt Sienna (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and Prussian Blue (blue). It wasn’t a deliberate plan, I just didn’t seem to need extra colours, until the end, the foreground needed to be a grassy bank. I was tempted to use a ‘tube’ green like Viridian or Chrome Green but it would not have been in harmony with the rest of the painting. So I used a Yellow Ochre and a little Prussian Blue to make a green and dragged it over the Burnt Sienna under colour.

As usual I recorded the painting process and will post in a few days. It was a 3 hour painting so the time lapse will be a little longer than usual. See you then.