Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Music to slosh paint to

For a country known for such unparalleled beauty, Ireland hasn't produced its share of noteworthy painters. There's the impressionist Walter Osborne, the war artist John Lavery, the great colorist William John Leech, the lauded Paul Henry, the man who did for Irish landscape painting what William Butler Yeats did for the Celtic Revival. I struggle to come up with more names; it seems our all-consuming bursts of creative frenzy are inspired by the blank page, rather than the blank canvas.

All this danced through my head as I painted the shed this weekend. I could be a decent colorist, methinks; I wanted to give the old structure something other than the customary coat of white, but the old hag wouldn't have it. "Fuchsia?" she shouted at me. "Are you mad?" I doubt Leech's aspirations were squashed in such a manner.

The great artists were likely inspired by song, but for me, songs serve another purpose, as they make labor's monotony tolerable. The Bothy Band -- which, like the aforementioned Yeats and Henry, were quite influential within its particular genre -- are terrific to paint to. Lively, ferocious, and vivacious, the music keeps my hands moving and my heart thumping.

And you do know what a bothy is, don't you? They are rather simple cottages where, many generations ago, single lads would dwell together. Oftentimes, the young men would hold musical nights, entertaining folks from all over the surrounding region.

Can't say I've ever painted a bothy.

Enough gabbing . . . . Here are two favorites by The Bothy Band: "Old Hag You Have Killed Me" and "Farewell To Erin."