Home News Community Weekend Read: Laois artist draws on local scenes for inspiration

Weekend Read: Laois artist draws on local scenes for inspiration

Karen Fingleton Main

Spending summers as a child going around with her maternal grandad, Jim Tyrell, the well known Portlaoise vet, engendered a love of animals in artist Karen Fingleton.

With her dad coming from a farm outside Stradbally where the family spend lots of time, it’s small wonder that cows are a favourite subject in her paintings.

“I think in general whether from towns or the countryside, Irish people don’t have to go back too far in their history to find their connection to nature or a farming connection of some sort.

“I find that scenes depicting nature do sell well. I love painting cows.

“I love their curiosity and it’s hard not to smile when you see their inquisitive faces looking back,” says Karen who originally trained as a teacher.

Growing up at the foot of the Rock of Dunamaise and now living in the picturesque town of Abbeyleix, she has never been short of inspiration.

“I love painting rural scenes and rural settings. The Laois landscape is so beautiful.

“I love the hills and hedges, inquisitive cows peeking through gates, farmyard windowsills spilling with geraniums in the summer, and the glistening that a rain shower leaves behind on a warm summer’s day.

“I even love the electricity poles and wires that delicately frame our roads.

“There is something quintessentially Irish about these poles and the birds gathering there. I love the way cows are gently herded up and down country lanes.

“These days I have been working on more scenes with children on farms in them, and I am always on the lookout for my next painting.

“I will often have the camera ready to capture an image. You never know when the perfect scene pops up.”

Karen’s own children are used to the artwork drying around the house and seeing themselves appear on canvases every now and then.

“From time to time they will hop in beside me and paint on an easel next to me. I see many similarities in how my daughter approaches painting and how I paint.

“She loves it and has a great sense of freedom in how she attacks a canvas with paint. It’s fabulous to see her paint with no fear and such a sense of freedom and joy. 

“When I teach art in school that is one thing I would love the children to take with them is that in art they can never be ‘wrong’.

“So you can never feel unsure or uncertain or nervous about getting something wrong. Art is all about individuality and joy.”

Karen took art as a subject in school and went to England with a portfolio.

However, she says that she never felt brave enough to either head off to England or to pursue art full-time.

She said: “Teaching seems a lot more sensible. I would love to return to study art more formally at some point but for now, I try to do different classes and workshops.

“I find this a great way to develop new techniques and get new ideas and inspirations for painting. I really enjoy these opportunities.

“Although I trained as a teacher, I am passionate about painting and the creative arts. I find when I am painting I am completely absorbed by it and get lost in the process of painting.

“I began to explore oils around ten years ago. Once I began to use them I was hooked. I love the messiness of oils, their shine, their texture and I love how I always want to touch my finished pieces of artwork.

“I think there is something very tactile about oils that engages people not only visually, but also in regard to texture. 

“I love to think that my paintings encourage and give people a sense of texture; the petals on a flower, the hair on a cow, the fluff of a dandelion seed. I don’t believe in rigid colour schemes.

“Sometimes I see all sorts of pinks and blues in a brown cow. Why not. I can’t seem to help myself adding pops of colour to my artwork, and hope that my paintings are the kind of paintings that will bring a little joy to someone’s wall,” Karen remarks.

It’s a busy lifestyle, with Karen having juggled painting, part-time teaching and raising three small children for the last ten years.

“I am constantly trying to improve my craft and am always looking out for the next moment of inspiration,” says Karen who is currently working on commissions and new paintings. 

A selection of her work can be seen on her new website and online shop, karenfingleton.com.

Her paintings are alsoavailable in Anthology, Abbeyleix; Market Square Studios, Ballinakill, and The Butler Gallery Shop, Kilkenny.

She will also be featuring in her first art exhibition in the library in Abbeyleix, next year.

SEE ALSO – In Pictures: Presentation made as long-serving Laois organist and choir founder retires