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View Michael McGuire website: www.michaelmcguireart.com
Michael McGuire was born in Sneem, Co Kerry in 1956, but spent most of his childhood and formative years in the Killarney area. While interested in drawing and painting from early childhood, he really only began to have some commercial success in the 1980’s. Around that time he focused mainly on landscapes of the rugged coastline of his native county and other West of Ireland scenes. In the 1980s and 1990s his work was frequently exhibited in galleries such as Kenny’s (Galway), the Frank Lewis Gallery (Killarney) and the Oisin Gallery (Dublin). Working as a part-time artist, Michael juggled his artwork with a demanding day job and in the late 1990’s, a decision to relocate to the South East coupled with a heavy workload, forced him to stop painting for a few years.
However, that decision had a profound and positive impact in that it gave him time to give serious consideration to what he wanted, both artistically and career-wise. Already quite an accomplished landscape artist, Michael had become drawn to the work of the French impressionists and that of Claude Monet in particular and increasingly felt that his paintings lacked the authentic quality of light evident in Monet’s work. A chance glance at a book by Californian plein-air (outdoor) artist, Suzan Sarback, led him to undertake a series of intensive workshops at her school in Fair Oaks in Northern California. That experience led to a longterm commitment to working en plein air, in pursuit of his artistic goals. The Irish climate is not particularly suited to plein air work, but it does at least offer variability and associated painting challenges.
He has also been heavily influnced by the work of UK artist, Trevor Chamberlain and has painted with him and many of his Wapping Group colleagues (http://thewappinggroupofartists.co.uk/) on a number of painting trips to France.
While he paints plein-air all year round, Michael balances this with larger studio work, particularly during the winter months. His studio paintings consist mainly of larger landscapes painted either from plein-air reference material or photos with on-site colour notes. He also does occasional still life work painted from life in his studio. Since his main objective is to capture light, Michael finds interesting material in what might appear mundane at first glance. Hence interspersed with striking scenic vistas, one also finds paintings of mundane things such as a muddy pond or a rock outcrop. There is often a hidden beauty in such things which only an experienced plein air artist can convey.
More recently he has also become interested in figurative painting and drawing, again working mostly from life rather than from photographs.
Michael is based in Wexford.
“Ever since I first picked up a paintbrush I’ve been drawn to water, and particularly the ocean. Maybe it’s in my genes, because my ancestors on my mother’s side were all fishermen. After several years working from photos, I came to realize the unique value of painting the ocean on location or “en plein air”. There is something about hearing the noise of crashing waves and inhaling the unique Atlantic aroma that influences how one paints, I feel. But, of course, it is in the direct observation of motion, and then trying to capture it in a visually real way, that the true value of working en plein air lies.”
Michael currently has some 20 paintings on display in the Denis Collins Gallery exhibition at the Talbot Hotel, Wexford. The exhibition, which coincides with the Wexford Opera Festival, runs until 3rd November.
Michael McGuire October 2013.