Born in 1942, I turned eighty earlier this year. I have been coming to Clifden since 1960. In the mid 1980’s, in my forties, friends here told me about the ‘Irish School of Landscape Painting’ at Ballinaboy, near Clifden: it was run by Kenneth Webb and his daughter Susan Webb. On my first evening, while registering for a course, I asked what was the difference between oils and water colours: that’s how little I knew. I have been a student with Kenneth Webb ever since then.

After a few years of painting in an academic style, I wanted to break into vibrant colour. I was like the little boy in Harry Chapin’s heart-breaking ‘Flowers are Red’:
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen
But the little boy said…
There are so many colours in the rainbow
So many colours in the morning sun
So many colours in the flower, and I see every one.
Well the teacher said, ‘You’re sassy’ 
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are / So repeat after me…

So, skies could be green, water red, grass could be purple… there’s a freedom to see things in any colour, as they dance and make music.
I love the line from Sr. Wendy Beckett  ‘The wonder of everything that so marvelously is’. The ‘ordinary’ is extraordinary, and the ‘plain’ chants. Or the mystic Simone Weil ‘You don’t have to go far to find God  just notice things’.

This exhibition shows the development of style since c. 2003. I like strong shapes, and have moved towards abstracting geometrical shapes from what lies before me – a reductionist and partially Cubist style, of triangles, rectangles, spheres. Getting the information in situ is the first step: then, reduction and minimalism, from that information: next, for abstracts, a tone study, before completing in colour.

I love the work of Louis Toffoli, (1907-1999) a French artist, in a post-cubist and transparent style, where shapes cross over each other. My more recent work tends in that direction. The latest ones were during Covid lock-down.

I get energy when I paint. My soul sings.
And I leave half my soul in Connemara, when I head back home.

Séamus Devitt C.Ss.R.
September 2022