Thursday, 18 of July of 2024

Category » Painters Diary

Sky Landscape Artist of 2015


...palette knife in hand I set to work...

...palette knife in hand I set to work...

Popular presenting duo Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner have returned to Sky TV’s Landscape competition after the success of the Portrait Artist series. Expert judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan are also returning. The winner will be awarded a £10,000 commission, which will be added to the National Trust’s permanent art collection.
Narrowly missing out on a place in Heat 3 of Sky Landscape Artist of 2015, by way of open submission, I was offered a place as reserve artist for the Heat. It was a very un-Christian position to find myself in, wishing that one of my fellow artists be ill-fated and fall by the wayside, but what the hell. Failing that I was guaranteed a place in the Wild Card competition the following day. I saw it as an opportunity not to be sniffed at. I wasn’t going there to make up the numbers or for the “experience” but because I believed I could be a real contender.

Our exact painting location remained a secret untill the last.

Our exact painting location remained a secret untill the last.

View of the bay below Trellisick Gardens.

View of the bay below Trellisick Gardens.

In the event all eight Heat artists arrived safe and sound meaning me and Karl (the second reserve artist from Gibraltar) were joining the Wild Card painters. Here roughly twenty artists were competing for one place to progress to the next stages.

Early in the morning we were brought to our painting location and briefed. We would start at 9am and work till 3pm at which time the judges would announce the winner. The judges, presenters and a camera team would be moving throughout us, interviewing us, as we depicted the landscape.

Everywhere we looked there was a camera crew.

Everywhere we looked there was a camera crew.

Lights – Camera – Action

Straight away the crew were asking me to remove a peg from the ground and hammer it in again because the camera man liked the sound. I started working as soon as my easel was standing securely. I do a quick drawing with acrylic marker and start basting the canvas in turps and linseed oil. Tai Shan Schierenberg turns up wondering what I’m putting on the canvas and I explain my modus operandi and he wishes me luck and congratulates me on my setup.

...#1 work in progress...

...#1 work in progress...

I’m working on a 70×100cm canvas in landscape format, depicting the bay and headlands seen from Trellisick Gardens. I want to keep the composition as simple as possible so leave any foreground trees out. The camera team and judges visit regularly following my progress. Late into the picture Joan Bakewell fixes me with a stare when I tell her landscape painting is a lot like self-portraiture, I notice the whole crew surrounding her turn to me in anticipation. I explain that the scene being distilled through me has to have an element of self-portraiture; hence twenty artists paint the same scene in their own individual way. She seems satisfied and moves on with her media entourage.

At 12.30 it’s finished and I can do no more without overworking it. Individual parts of the painting work well but I’m neither convinced nor impressed. It’s completely unremarkable and I don’t like it.

Painting #1 complete.

Painting #1 complete.

I am not worried though, and things might actually still be going to plan. Right on cue the sky darkens and the morning sun gives way to rain. At one o’clock I start my second piece knowing I’ll have to be fast and relentless to be finished on time. It’s another 70×100 canvas but portrait format this time and with a lively, atmospheric, blue under-painting. This the point where most of the others are doing the finishing touches, tinkering around or gone for lunch and out of the rain. My radical decision to start a second large canvas so late in the game catches the attention of the judges and camera crew alike and they’re over to have me explain what I’m up to.

I’m working fast and loose emboldened by the knowledge that I have one piece in the bag, I feel free go a bit wild at the Wild Card competition. I am also aware that if I am to have half a chance of winning I’ll need to be experiential and go out on a limb to create a remarkable picture. Two thirds of the canvas is a vast rainy sky dwarfing the little estuary below. With ten minutes to go I start making big, bold marks in the clouds transforming them to dramatic effect. It ties everything together the way I’d hoped and I’m finished at three on the button.

Painting #2 complete.

Painting #2 complete.

I wonder if the judges had noted my late flourish. They call time and confer to pick a winner. Don’t worry, now, no spoilers here as we were all contracted to secrecy. Suffice to say it was someone else going forward on this occasion. Disappointed but unperturbed I set about packing up. Then privately and unofficially the crew commiserated and informed me that it had been a two horse race and that I had been pipped at the post.

"Trellisick Downpour"

Now I felt affirmed as I loaded the big blue van to start the journey home. I was very happy with my performance and the event as a whole. I didn’t drive all the way to Cornwall for just the “experience” but because I believed I could be a contender, and in the end I got both. I’d do it all again and I wouldn’t change a thing.

“My Place on Canvas”

On Sunday 23rd November 2014 I launched the “My Place on Canvas” project at the Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. It was the product of three years work and the Blurb went like this:

30 Wicklow landscapes of real people unveiled

An exhibition celebrating Wicklow landscapes where the public have decided which scenes Rod Coyne would paint. Choosing a selection of those favourite “My Places…” Rod has interpreted them in his own distinctive plein-air style. Each canvas has its very own personal back-story. These sentiments and memories will be exhibited alongside the painting.

This is an interactive project where the artist looks at the world through someone else’s eyes, and they get to see their landscape through his. People who previously were never involved in art suddenly find themselves at the heart of this unique show. The result is a compelling mix of paintings and text celebrating the stunning beauty that is Co. Wicklow.

My Place on Canvas – opening night.

Following in Mondrian’s footsteps: My Domburg Experience.

Late 2013 I was invited to join Schildersweek 2014 in Domburg, Holland. This is a prestigious Scholarship/residency/art festival where 30 international artists are invited (and sponsored) to work for 10 days in the picturesque seaside town culminating in a summer-long exhibition. The foundation Art and Performance sponsor the artists’ travel, materials, local transport and accommodation with a host family. Obviously I grabbed such a prestigious opportunity to represent Ireland’s plein air painters with both hands.

Mondrian's Windmill

Mondrian's Windmill

Domburg has been a cherished and high-class, seaside and spa destination for Belgium, German and Dutch jet set for over a century now. Add to that a rich and influential artistic history and the scene was set for the organisers to re-kindle the cultural profile with the inaugural event in 2003.

Domburg Dunes

Domburg Dunes

Please have a quick look here for full details from the organiser’s perspective:

A word my kids abuse and over-use continually is the only way I can describe my Domburg experience: “awesome”. It worked for me on so many different levels: culturally, artistically, socially and of course networking and building for the future. Not to mention time spent cycling around Holland on a bike with an easel tied to the back was pure therapy for me, and was like a holiday to an artist currently performing the balancing act of his life.

Mobile studio - Dutch style.

Mobile studio - Dutch style.

Watch this space as I retrospectively add my Domburg Diary.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

'Land of the Celt's' poster.

'Land of the Celt's' poster.

If you find yourself in Co. Kerry this weekend then drop into Cill Rialaig arts center where they are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the ‘Land of the Celt’s’ exhibition. I have three painting there along with some other great artists. For more info:

And of course we’re getting dressed up for St. Patrick’s Day here at the Avoca Studio Gallery, Co. Wicklow. We’d love to see you here too.

Raising the flag for St. Patrick's Day.

Raising the flag for St. Patrick's Day.

Poetry Anthology

Out of the blue an Irish book publishers contacted me last month if they could use one of my paintings as the cover for a new poetry book. The anthology is for leaving certificate students during 2013 and 2014. Over 100K students will use the poetry textbook over the two years. At an average age of 18 they will all be potential collectors with 10 years.

It all brings back memories of one of my own schoolbooks from the last millennium. I know it was an English literature book but can’t remember what was in it as I spent most of my time looking at the cover. And on that cover, wrapped all the way from front to back was the “The Liffey Swim” by Jack B. Yeats.

I am really delighted about this opportunity, not less that they searched me out for the project. The book is now in production and I personally know quite a few people who’ll have it in their school bag.

“The Liffey Swim” by Jack B. Yeats.

"Setting at St. Finans" by Rod Coyne, selected for cover of Poerty 2014.

Poems 2014 Dummy Cover

Ferrybank Blues 2010-2011

People often ask me if I prefer to work from photos or from life. I’d have to say I have no preference but it’s usually one or the other. “Ferrybank Blues 2010-2011” is obviously the exception to the rule. I started the painting at the Art in the Open, , festival in 2010 but ran out of time before I could finish the painting. I liked the composition and how the painting was shaping up but I was nowhere near finished. I used my digital camera to take a shot of the scene in the off chance I might finish it at a later stage.

The painting went into the storeroom and I got on with all the other things I was doing. From time to time I would have it in my hand but never felt like finishing the job and I even thought of over painting the canvas and using it for a new picture.

More than a year later I found the photo on my computer and I was pleasantly surprised how cool it looked. I printed it off the image and pulled the canvas back out of the storeroom.

The original plein air work was done with acrylic paints and brushes and I was determined draw a line between the first and second sitting. So I made a point of working in oil paint and using a palette knife. I worked on the image long enough to see that it could make a strong piece but I still wasn’t finished. I looked at it closely for a week before getting stuck in late one Friday night.

The next morning I surveyed my work in the daylight and was quite pleased with my efforts. In fact I was delighted with the painting and it proved to me that there’s no reason that a piece can’t start out in the open and finish off in the studio.

The new painting will be having it premier next month at Greenacres Open Exhibition, Official Opening at 12 noon on Saturday February 4th. Greenacres Art Gallery, Selskar, Wexford, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0) 53 9122975

Ferrybank Blues

"Ferrybank Blues" oil on canvas, 40X120cm.

The back-up image.

The back-up image.

The outdoor studio.

The outdoor studio.

Struggling and Juggling

I was struggling with a wobbly construction of a painting at the fourth annual Art In The Open Festival of plein air painting this afternoon. I met loads of people who I knew and even more for the first time. This festival is taking off.

Trying to balance the castle, the Abbey Quay and the weir at Enniscorthy Bridge proving a task for an artist with more than three hands. So I stopped struggling and started juggling,  and in the end I was quite happy with the results.

More painting tomorrow in Wexford town. I can’t wait, Rod Coyne.

I am sure of one thing; i want water in my paiting.

I am taking part in the fourth annual Art In The Open Festival of plein air painting: July 29th, 30th, and 31st 2011. This is an opportunity to see myself and several other artists out painting around Wexford and Enniscorthy during the weekend, further details:

First the Drawing...

Early stage: take no prisoners and get stuck in!

getting into the painting groove...

...and then suddenly the picture was finished.

The ewe has landed.

We spent all day Tuesday planting sheep. We used shovels, rakes, sledgehammers, and a sticky compound called T7. It was sweaty, satisfying work, and it raised more than an eyebrow or two. Most people had heard about our public art installation but they were pleasantly surprised to meet them face to face.

Personally I was blown over to see how diverse and beautiful each sheep had been retrofitted and modified. I spent so long in my own “Daisy” bubble that I couldn’t imagine what else she might have looked like untill I saw all these other weird and wonderful creatures. It was hard to tell they had all started from the one template.

Sheep Meeting.

What time is it Mr. Wolf?

Wierd and worderful.

Turn the other sheep.

No animals were harmed in the creation of this artwork.

The (sheep) brians behind the operation.

Not interfering with farmyard animals.

Flocking great art. 100% thumbs up, Rod.

The Ewe Tube.

Daisy and I.

Sheep Launch

You are invited to the launch of our inaugural public art event:
marking the beginning of the 2011 Tinahely Trailwalking Festival
at 6.30 p.m. on FRIDAY, APRIL 29th at the MARKET SQUARE, TINAHELY
and then at the Courthouse Arts Centre

A curious flock of sheep and lambs, created by members of TAG, will be “grazing” around Tinahely for the summer: each artist, starting from a uniform steel template, has worked through the winter to create their own individual animal. It is hoped this will become an annual event and our arty sheep will multiply every spring. TAG is a collective of artists and craftspeople, all living and working in the Tinahely area. Members and their work represent a diverse range of disciplines and media, including painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, textiles and ceramics, glassware and metalwork. More info at

The birth of Daisy

My original idea was to fuse a racer bicycle with my sheep template. I thought the handlebars as horns would make a handsome ram.

Two basic sheep templates…the journey begins.

While rooting through skips and dumps I turned up a couple of little girls bikes and started to rethink my plan A. Considering I live in a house of women I decided to get in touch with my feminine side. Here the raw materials.

I was lucky enough to get my friend Jeremy, a top class custom bike builder to do my welding for me. He saw the humor in it and did quite an artistic job.

I started preparing the surface on a hot April afternoon. Photos by lola.

I was advised to invest in a good quality primer. The instructions on the tin told me two coats with 24 hours between them, so I did as I was told.

Finally I’m painting, I knew this project was going to more labour intensive than painting any oil on canvas.

All primed and ready for some real colour. Daisy is finally taking shape, I have an idea of how she might eventually look.

I needed to mix up a nice shade of pink to echo the Daisy bike’s original colour. I took advise from two girlie experts.

It is such a relief to see a colour other than grey rust primer.

Deciding against black the legs and head were painted ivory. The original bike had cream coloured tyres.

It took half a day to cut contact and create the all important daisy stickers…

…and ten minutes to stick them on.

Late into the night I replaced the saddle and added sheep-eye-stickers and the girlie tastles.

A happy artist. Daisy is ready for transport to Tinahely where she’ll be mounted on a base and the placed in her summer grazing place along with the rest of the flock.