2021 Programme

Friday 9th April 7pm

Martin Ireland

Martin is a local Artist. He gained a BA Hon’s in 1987 and has exhibited in many galleries across London including the Mall Galleries and the Strand. He has an impressive record of solo exhibitions, contributed to prestigious publications and has his own public collection at the National Maritime Museum Liverpool.

This s a link to view a recording of the demonstration which will be removed after 30 days.


Martin Ireland 2020 statement.

“I record everyday life I sketchbooks and photographic journals. One of the pleasures of my job is to go to Tooting Bec lido to draw. What makes the place so special is the seasonal quality and changeability of light throughout the day. It’s just as fascinating to visit at opening times early in the morning, then when it’s busy with hundreds of sun-worshippers enjoying the heat of the day.

I’m also interested in watching people. As a figurative painter there isn’t a better stage than Tooting Bec Lido to study the human form in or by the water. Leaves in the water always gives me the impression that the pool is more of a ‘bec’ than a swimming pool, a natural oasis in the busy city.

I find that people are more relaxed when stripped down for swimming. It’s more revealing and therefore more of themselves. The lido is an ideal place for taking a sideways look at things, including the comedy of people at play in water.

I was brought up by the Thames so, for me the lido is important in fulfilling the need for space and nature. It’s a king of refuge, an oasis in the city, the place where people meet and carry on the conversation that had been interrupted by reality between swims. The place and people are the starting point for triggering ideas for paintings.

There needs to exist within the work, a degree of tension between carefree figuration and anatomy where the surface image begins to break down, enabling the work to suggest possibilities of movement, to begin to exist on one’s own terms. So the paintings are about light, movement and surface”

Artist demonstration by Martin Ireland for Bromley Art Society 9th April 2021.

Martin presented on Zoom from his studio in Balham, South London. Around ten years ago he swapped from watercolours into oils which he finds better for flexibility and creative development. Oils can be used with the thinness of watercolours but wiped off the next day, sanded if dry or simply over painted. Galleries also prefer oils and artist can charge for more.

Members voted for Martins image of the “Free Swimmer” above for the presentation.

Martin painted on MDF board ½ cm thick which was primed with two coats of gesso and tinted to subdue starkness of white. Painting on board enables him to crop a painting which otherwise could not be done on canvas.

His preferred oil colours brand is Michael Harding for there richness of pigment. Cass Art do their own more economic version.

Martin takes his own wonderful image reference photos from both an aerial and underwater perspective.

Martin uses he method of “Colour Field” which involves dividing paint into: white, black, hot and cold colours rather like a digital palette does. He uses a white piece of card to creatively mix colours and tones and match them with the reference photo.

He starts with thin paints and “codes” or sketches the painting marks. Normally he uses 4 – 6 sketches for a painting and selects the best in terms of tones and composition on which to base his final work.

His painting will not copy detail but will simplify and edit out or rationalise with an abstract eye.

His paint will become thicker as he introduces detail and highlights to his work.

Martin mention that he achieved his collection at Liverpool and Tooting Beck lido through being given an artist in residency in each location for a year each. He has also featured on Sky’s Portrait Artist of the year.

During the intermission talked of his initial inspiration of David Hackneys “pool” paintings and his admiration of James Morrison’s recent documentary on BBC 2 – If you missed it it can still be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/b4JDS4jdU6A?list=PL1wxupznw8KnjlAfxhprqhw5KYk8T6URt

We also discussed the merits of painting on silver aluminium or foil or glass with oil or acrylic as an experimental approach which seems to work quite well.

One of the tips Martin gave in how to control a Rigger brush was to pull it toward you not push away from you.

Martin then finishes his painting with texture and definition which it shared above.

Bromley Art Society thanks Martin for an excellent demonstration provided at very short notice.

Thank you to Martin and all participating members.

Paul Stringfellow