Enter the Generosity of Silence, Sinéad Ní Chionaola

I have painted as an abstract artist for over 20 years, painting in Canada, France, America, Australia. And I now find my inspiration in East Cork and West Waterford.

The Magic Path

The Magic Path

The sun draping its evening glow on the sky, a grove of trees in the foreground, a ploughed field…. 

I have used these experiences to communicate a love of place, and through place, a love of where I am here and now.

I create work in a series of paintings, instilled with my memories, capturing the essence of the landscape. The painting process transforms the dialogue of art and artist into its own story – using drips, texture and form. There is an almost sensual quality created by the dense layering of paint on canvas.

In 2015 my partner died and life changed over-night.  

I sold my family home and gradually moved on.

Last summer I returned to painting and wanted to record my life with my children. And life as I see it. With a touch of magic. 

How would I do this?

It occurs to me now, that in the old house, because of the walled garden, I had to leave the house to see the sky. My paintings were internalised, memorised from the world outside. I was cocooned.

Here in my new home I am constantly informed by my external surroundings: the changing light, skies, the children playing outside and the trees from Glenbower Woods on the hills in the distance. And I also have space to investigate and inquire into my internal world. 

Enter the generosity of silence

Enter the generosity of silence

I used a matt gel medium to improve colour blending and the flow of the paint. I scraped off the excess paint to be left with atmospheric staining of the canvas. 

(The title is a line from this poem by John O’Donohue.)

Process: A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

I have wanted to introduce the figure into my work for some time in a non- representational way.

I took photographs while I was on holidays in Portugal with my children. They really wanted to be in the pool at night time. 

I used these images as preparatory sketches and as a reference for the paintings. 

I liked the natural distortion in these water images and I thought I could use this distortion to capture movement, light on the water, fleeting expression and thus convey a sense of energy and vitality. 

It was important to me to have thin layers of paint and to be able to see colours one under another and to have areas of pure colour.



Really enjoyed this one – it worked very quickly. All you can see are my daughters’ hands and a bit of colour of her wet suit. The colour-blending and the circles of the splashes gave me real delight. 

I like the drips and resisted the urge to overpaint these areas and the places where I have specifically left sparse – in contrast to areas that are more impasto.

Merge in the moment 

What interested me as I was painting this was the distorting effect that the water had on the figures

It allows me to paint the figures without fear or a need for representation. Light is streaming through the bottom figure making her almost unrecognisable. In the other figure her face is covered by the water. The two girls are completely absorbed in their swimming.

Keeping the planes of light separate in some areas and blending with drips of paint in other areas and allowing the drips to remain is deliberate. It is a fluid interplay of light, colour, fun, fear and spontaneity. 

7/4/19: Rituals and process pet peeves.

Painted all weekend. Which means lots of tea drinking, organising the space and figuring out what image / images I want to work with. The difficulty of being a working mother and a single parent is the distraction. Obviously my studio door is always open but sometimes there is a request or some distraction every two mins. I go for a walk in the woods or the beach for inspiration or I do a meditation and or yoga. Other times l love when my children come to look at the work – my focus group! My eldest daughter always knows what area I have worked on and when I need to put more energy.

So I worked on through all of those today and this week and got some good work started.  

Went to a Cellular Healing practice in Heart Space Yoga and Therapies, Midleton and released a lot of blocked emotions. Felt very relaxed and open afterwards. This is a part of the process as I felt I had blocked energies in relation to my own creativity and my voice as an artist. 

Cleaned and painted today, tidied up the ones that I had been working on and started the 20×24 acrylic on canvas.  

20/4/19: Ear-infection, South Doc. Antibiotics! Painted after that thanking my stars that my children are outside with their friends.

I’m enjoying painting the skies that have Ariel perspective in them – these were photos taken from the car of the sunrise this winter.

Pinks… Blues… getting the right blue… Trying out these gesso board surfaces in comparison with canvas. I’d like to finish all these this week and start new ones. Focusing on the colours and forms of the landscape around me. 

26/4/19: Looking out the window now the trees and hills have disappeared into the rain the sky is grey.

Sinéad Ní Chionaola

Born in Co. Waterford, Sinéad grew up in a home that valued the arts. She has lived in Cork, Dublin, London, New Jersey and France. She studied Painting and Printmaking in college. 

Influences range from The Impressionists, Max Beckman, Helen Frankenthaler, Kandinsky, O’ Keeffe, and Pollack to Realism, Cubism, German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Tony O Malley, Louis Le Brocquy and Hughie O’ Donoghue.

A graduate of Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork, Sinéad has won many important awards and residencies which have enabled her to work and exhibit in America, Australia, Canada and Europe. She says of her work “There is an almost sensual quality created by the dense layering of paint on canvas.” Her work forms part of major corporate, civic and private collections.

Visit her website here.