Mother Patrick, St Patrick’s Blue, & a trio of Blue Studies.

It has been interesting how this post has evolved from the initial seed of an idea that revolves around my recent interest in blue shadows. Many artists will avoid using green paint straight from the tube, so the challenge is always to depict greens in a painting with subtle mixes of blue, yellow, and a third balancing hue like red, brown or magenta.

Sable Antelope and Marula Tree. 500 x 700 mm Watercolour on Saunders Waterford 300g.

When painting trees, blue is ideal for the shade areas, and balances the effect of sunlight on trees. The French Impressionists skillfully created green by juxtaposing blue and yellow paint to create the illusion of green.

Roosterhoek Farm House. 250 x 350 mm. Watercolour. (Sold)

Blue also conveys mood, and atmosphere successfully, as in the soft light of this : ‘Freestate Evening Landscape’.


'Freestate Evening'. Watercolour, 350 x 500mm, on Saunders Waterford, 300g.

And then as serendipity is a significantly inspiring factor in my life, today is the Feast of St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, where all things green abound on this day, even the waters of the Chicago River!  But it is interesting to discover that St Patrick’s Blue was more significant in Irish history, than green!

I have recently listened to Michael Haykin’s interesting audio sermon on Leo and Patrick, and have since downloaded the ‘Confessions of St Patrick’, well worth a read if Christian missionaries interest you as much as they inspire me.

St Patrick’s zeal for saving souls was responsible for the conversion of thousands throughout Ireland and his influence on the Celtic church was particularly significant in Europe at that time.

And to add to this theme, Mother Patrick was a young Dominican Nun ( named after St. Patrick) aged 17, who was called to missionary life from her home in Ireland in 1880. She accompanied the Pioneer Column of Cecil John Rhodes from South Africa, north into what is now Zimbabwe, and besides nursing during the 1896 Rebellion she founded the Convent School in Salisbury (Harare) , where I went to school, and where my interest in art was nurtured.

So, here, on St Patrick’s Day, I’d like to conclude with an Irish melody that was my favourite lullaby when our children were all very little.

“When Irish eyes are smiling,

Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring.

In the lilt of Irish laughter

You can hear the angels sing.

When Irish hearts are happy,

All the world seems bright and gay.

And when Irish eyes are smiling,

Sure, they steal your heart away”.

….“I see myself exalted even in the present world beyond measure by the Lord, and I was not worthy nor such that He should grant me this. I know perfectly well, though not by my own judgment, that poverty and misfortune becomes me better than riches and pleasures. For Christ the Lord, too, was poor for our sakes; and I, unhappy wretch that I am, have no wealth even if I wished for it. Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, or whatever it may be; but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere, as the prophet says: Cast thy thought upon God, and He shall sustain thee.”  St. Patrick


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