If you’re a Ph.D. student, like myself, you know how precious free time is, and you know how infrequently you find it. One of my adjustments for year two of the Ph.D. process is to find, and indeed make, time for myself away from the critical thinking, writing, and fieldwork. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been achieved nonetheless.
When I do find/make time, I tend to either want to do absolutely nothing, which entails basically still working! (answering e-mails, catching up with students and contacts, etc) but relaxing while doing so, or I want to find a unique spot either somewhere in Ireland or abroad to travel to; as with any keen traveler, my goal here has been to soak up as much of a new culture as possible.
One of my favourite places to have visited lately (I’ve been to Amsterdam, Istanbul, the Dingle Peninsula, and Kinsale in the past few months) is the small seaside village near The Burren (the rocky Burren!) and the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher in the stunning County Clare.
The village is called Doolin.
Doolin is perhaps best known for being the hub of traditional Irish music; I was fortunate enough to have visited it in February for the annual Micoh Russell festival. While I appreciate Doolin’s music scene and pubs for their amazing atmosphere (good craic) and hospitality, the village is fascinating to me for a few additional reasons: it’s absolutely gorgeous, it’s mystical, it’s vibrant (in terms of really feeling the elements of nature), and it’s always monumental for me because this is the area where my ancestors once roamed.
In returning to Dublin from Doolin, I was inspired to express my appreciation for the village/area in some form or another. Historically, I have been one to write, either a short essay or poem, on my feelings after some traveling experience; however, one more thing that I have worked on is using my mind creatively through new methods outside of my writing and photographs.
So, after this trip, I figured that I would do something radically different. I decided to make a ‘painting’ of sorts on a canvas which I purchased from a local shop on Thomas Street. I call it a ‘painting’ even though it was essentially made with a handful of different types of markers and coloured pencils.
The ‘painting’ took me about one painstaking week to complete; I was able to create many different colours by combining different markers here and there where and when I saw fit. Sometimes I had to take risks in fusing different colour schemes, but nothing good comes out of anything where a bit of risk-taking isn’t involved. Right?
In terms of the overall format of the picture, it’s basically an aerial view of the vicinity of Doolin. You will notice that I have landmarked key sites, such as the great pubs in Doolin, as well as important geographic sites, such as The Burren (rocky looking area on the top right) and the Cliffs of Moher (brown looking structure on far-left).
My goal with the picture was to bring out the light and colour that I remember seeing while in Doolin. I also wanted to show the diversity of the landscape.
Ultimately, I wanted to ‘paint’ a different picture from what we traditionally get in either paintings or photographs.
In theory, the ‘painting’ serves as a kind of road-map for the traveler who is visiting the vicinity of Doolin. It’s a useful map if you begin on the far-right side of the ‘painting’ (right by the black road at McGann’s pub). This is the area where you enter Doolin; from there you continue on the black road; you can head down to Considine’s Pub (bottom left) and then drive on-down to the seaside villages of Liscannor and Lahinch. Be sure to also notice the Aran Islands on the top of the ‘painting’ (in the ocean).
I’m already working on a second picture, though this picture won’t be inspired by a traveling experience. I’ve decided to ‘paint’ a picture of the Old City of Jerusalem. Particular emphasis in the picture will be centred around the Dome of the Rock. I’m not sure when it will be completed, but it will likely have to wait until I’m finished teaching this week. Check back in a few weeks.
The ‘painting’ above is not for sale.
© Craig Considine, 31/3/2012