Friday, March 19, 2010

Portrait of Martin Keane

When I was in Corofin, County Clare, Ireland in 1995, I spotted a man in a pub that I knew I had to paint. I introduced myself and asked him if I could paint his portrait.

“That’ll cost you a pint of Guinness,” he said. After getting to know him a bit better, we planned for him to come to my rented house. I set up my easel next to the picture window. We had a six-pack of Guinness waiting, and he brought his own smokes. We talked about how the west of Ireland was changing.

The portrait is in oil on board, 10 inches by 8 inches. He was able to give me only one sitting of about an hour and a half.

He told me it was the only time anyone had painted his portrait. A few years later, I heard from a contact in Corofin that Martin Keane had passed away (RIP).

13 comments:

Bob Mrotek said...

James,
You not only immortalized this man but you captured the essence of his soul. I can see it in his eyes. Amazing...

Evan T said...

I've always wanted to go to Ireland, get in touch with my Conley heritage. This is such a nice and soulful portrait!

SCIBOTIC said...

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Tom said...

James,

That's a wonderful portrait and a nice tribute to the man. His spirit comes through loud and clear, thanks to you.

A question that always comes to my mind when someone describes a painting as oil on "board". Would I be correct in assuming you mean illustration board? At least in my mind "board" is too easily confused with "panel", which in itself can have a number of definitions.

Thanks, as always, for sharing.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everyone. Martin was a great man with an interesting life, which made him fun to paint. Tom, yes, that's on heavyweight, 100% rag illustration board, primed with gesso and Gamblin oil ground. When I'm sketching I usually use either that or Masonite. I often travel with the oil kit in a backpack, so everything has to be super compact.

Tom said...

Thanks James.

What advantage does the Gamblin oil ground provide?

I'd love to see pix and a description of your traveling oil sketch kit sometime!

JG O'Donoghue said...

wow this is really great, as an Irishman myself I have seen many a man in local pubs around Ireland that looks very like this guy with the cap and the features, you have captured that good natured, friendly, down to earth but always "up for the craic" spirit of elder generation here, well done boy

Anderson Scott said...

This is really a great portrait - one of the best I have seen:-). You captured his spirit which will live on.

Mark Waikien said...

That's a pretty beautiful story. The irish factor adds to it's magic, for me anyway. Random encounters like that are the building blocks of life! Nothing like REAL paint to slop around.

Erik Bongers said...

There's a certain comfort in the fact that when someone leaves us, he/she leaves a portrait behind.

Annie said...

Corofin is a great spot, the traditional music festival is great craic every year. Love the portrait.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Terrific! Did you work entirely from life or did you finish up from a photo, as he was only able to give you such a short sitting?

James Gurney said...

Nancy, all from life. I rarely rework a plein air sketch or painting in the studio--just can't reconstruct the experience and make meaningful refinements.