Saturday 24 August 2019

What lies beneath: Going Out to Sea by Bridget Flinn

Going Out to Sea by Bridget Flinn

Acrylic on canvas

Courtesy of Solomon Fine Art

Going Out to Sea by Bridget Flinn
Going Out to Sea by Bridget Flinn

Niall MacMonagle

Though her father painted and, when young, she herself loved making watercolour paintings of flowers, Bridget Flinn's road to becoming an artist was not a straightforward one. Encouraged to continue by Charlie Brady, who taught her during her foundation course at NCAD, she applied for the fine art degree and was turned down. Flinn left Dublin for London, studied natural history illustration at the Royal College of Art, worked as an illustrator, then worked part-time when her children were growing and "10 years ago devoted my time wholly to art".

Now, she paints every day in her small garden studio in Sandymount.

"I can come and go but would spend most of the day here, cannot hear the doorbell, so I'm never interrupted. If you're going to be a serous painter you need to give it everything." Sometimes Flinn plays music or the radio, but becomes so absorbed that those sounds fade away and she hears nothing but the sound of brush on canvas.

Born in Dublin, she grew up in Wicklow and Westmeath and "subject matter is whatever catches my eye, mainly landscapes". Her latest exhibition, Enchanted Forests and Other Stories, features "mostly Irish landscapes with a few from Scotland where we visited last summer".

This work, Going Out to Sea, remembers a scene in South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, "a place very like Connemara". Prehistoric mummies have been found on the island, and South Uist has a missile testing range dating from the late 1950s, but Flinn focuses on an untouched landscape.

The eye traces the flow of water towards the sea in a painting that is both loose and controlled, She gets those beautiful drips just right. "I don't like photo realism at all. My aim is half-way between realistic and abstract, a tricky line to tread. I'm always looking for that looseness. Using a big canvas helps. I use large flat brushes, palette knives, bits of cardboard or anything that comes to hand to apply the paint. Mistakes happen, happy accidents happen. Some drips I leave, some I paint over. When it's getting too tight I use my left hand." Flinn works quickly, likes acrylic "because it dries fast and there are many layers so they can take a while. I paint over them if I'm not happy. When I'm finished I hang them in the kitchen so I can stand back and see them properly. When I'm sure, I varnish them and that stops me fiddling." Fiddling? Such fiddling produces assured, atmospheric, accomplished paintings.

'Enchanted Forests and Other Stories' at Solomon Fine Art, today-June 8

Instagram: @bridgetflinn.ie / www.bridgetflinn.ie

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