Breda Mathews

Hook lighthouse

How did you get into art / have you always been painting?

Yes, I have always enjoyed drawing. As a teenager I would visit my Great Uncle Reuben. He was a stained glass maker and landscape artist. He was foreman in the Harry Clarke Stained Glass studios for a time. I loved looking at all his stained glass window preparatory drawings.

I went to NCAD. The first year we tried lots of different art techniques; fine art, printing, life drawing, graphic design, sculpture etc. I then completed a Diploma in Visual Communications, where I taught myself calligraphy since we were left to our devices a lot of the time!
After college I worked in typography and freelanced as a calligrapher.

I got married and my husband and I started a printing business, producing Celtic design wedding invitations with a whole body of Old Irish Lettering and Alphabet, Illustrated Capitals and monograms included on the invites. All my designs were original and inspired by the Book of Kells. They were very Irish and very beautiful and sold all over the world. Charlie had to learn the printing trade very quickly. It was a very exciting time in our lives. 

We worked hard whilst raising our young family, a boy and a girl. We embraced technology when computers came along and I had my Old Irish Script made into a font, which streamlined the whole production process.

What medium/media do you use?

I did so much fine detailed work and graphics, I changed direction and became very adept at digital illustration, combining my pen and ink drawings with adding colours and textures digitally, using Photoshop. I produced a body of landscape imagery of the East coast of Ireland, which I have made into prints and cards and sell on Etsy. It was a joy to start painting in oils in 2017 and put down my pens. I learnt the basics with Brenda Malley in the Schoolhouse for Art in Enniskerry. I also love watercolour and I have recently started working in charcoal.

What are your favourite subjects/themes?

The Wicklow landscape, especially places I have been to with my family. The mountains, the sea, the gardens. There is so much to paint. I enjoy painting plein-air with the Greystones Art Group, using watercolours. It is very freeing.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I always bring my Canon camera with me when we are out walking and it is so easy to take pictures on my phone.

Is there anything in particular you like to communicate through your art ?

Hopefully I am communicating something of the beauty of the Wicklow landscape. I greatly admire the political activism of Banksy through art. Ireland needs its own Banksy! If I was younger I’d buy a balaclava and go for it!

When and why did you join the Greystones Art Group?

I joined it in 2017 and in them I have found my tribe. A great bunch of artists. I especially love plein-air painting with them in the summertime.

Do you take commissions?

I don’t really. I’ve worked for a long time as a calligrapher and graphic designer, it’s such a luxury to paint whatever I want, when I want, just for myself and my family.

Are you working on any special projects? (e.g. exhibitions, commission, etc.)

I am enjoying working in charcoal at the moment. As the new President of GAG, I am working with the committee to continue to advance the group in the spirit it was set up all those years ago: To advance education in the visual arts and to promote it within Greystones and District through Exhibitions, demonstrations, field trips for plein-air painting and art competitions and most of all sharing our passion for Art. Art sets us Free!

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Instagram: bredamathewsart 

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