July 09, 2022

En Plein Air workshop at Glebe House and Gallery, Churchill, Co. Donegal led by the artist Cornelius Browne.

Glebe House and Gallery had a series of en plein air workshops over the summer with different artists. Glebe House is a really special place – you have to go see the house and get a tour if you are in the area – it’s about 20 minutes north of Letterkenny in Donegal. Actually, come here specially to see it! The house was the former home of the artist and collector Derek Hill and he donated it to the state when he died. It’s a really unique art collection and so special to see it all in the setting of a historic house. (See online tour of the house here).There’s gardens all around it so that in itself would be great, but and it’s just on the edge of Gartan Lake (where I swim!) surrounded by old trees and lush greenery, in turn nestled all around by the distant mountains, which adds to the magic. So you can see why I want to be here :)

I had met Cornelius on instagram (you can meet him too here) so it was great to meet him in person. His paintings are so beautiful and full of life – he only ever paints outside, in all weather conditions! Which is a big undertaking when you live in Donegal. He also has a great knowledge about the history of art and is a deep thinker and very wise. You might have read some of his articles in the Visual Artist Ireland newspaper. He mentioned today how Derek Hill encouraged him as a young painter – got him his first paint set!, and was a big factor in Cornelius heading off the study art in NCAD. I can see how that would be massive as a teenager – there’s no way I would have entertained the idea of NCAD – it was so far away from my family and local culture, and I presumed being an artist was for rich people. I didn’t know any artists, you may as well have proposed being a pop star. Anyways good for the world that Cornelius headed off to art school and is such an amazing painter today (after a little break!). He’s currently preparing for a solo exhibition in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny in 2023, so am looking forward to that! He’s really good at giving feedback and encouragement too which I appreciated…at the end he said to me to bring paint next time – so I did! (See later posts for the painting results :))

Today I was drawing instead of painting – a gorgeous huge beech tree at the bottom of the garden, overlooking Gartan Lake. I started with one A2 and the drawing grew over three hours to be four A2 sheets. It was a really nice meditative experience and was so nice to hang out with such a beautiful and muscular tree. Even though my body was buckled from being on the ground bending upwards into the branches and my eyes burned out from the sun facing me…so it became a bit physically challenging to complete the drawing!

The best place to find out about future en plein air events at Glebe House is on their Facebook page here.