Drusilla Cleary

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

I painted as a child and I always wanted to go to the College of Art. But this was in the sixties and ‘Home’ wouldn’t let me, they put me off. I wasn’t particularly academic, so my mother suggested studying Dress Design in the Grafton Academy. I did work for Sybil Connolly, but didn’t end up in Paris. I mostly did hideous jobs, like cutting, tacking and threading needles. Then I started working for myself and made clothes for other people. It’s a bit isolating when you’re only 19 or 20 and I didn’t make any money. So, I gave it up and did a secretarial course. It was sort of temporary as at the time women were expected to marry and not work beyond marriage.

During the time I did the sewing, my mother had a painting group at home and I joined them. They were really good, I remember the head of the Watercolour Society giving us a demo. First water and then a dip of paint spreading out magically. I liked it ever since. I’ve done lots of courses over time; pottery, silversmithing, all sorts of drawing courses, marketing and design, technical drawing. I did pottery in Marley Park for a couple of years and silversmithing in Dun Laoghaire. My last job was in RTE in the design department. Then I got married, had babies, etc. but I did do lots of night courses. I did a few short ones in watercolour and then joined a woman who had a studio in the bottom of her garden, I did watercolours there for 2 or 3 years. She was a fantastic teacher and painter, but sadly died. I then did art classes with John Freeney, a lovely man and beautiful painter. But unfortunately he also died. At a very young age.

That brought me to the Greystones Art Group and that’s where I’m staying.

What medium/media do you use?

Watercolour 99% of the time, I tried oils, but I hate drawing.

What are your favourite subjects?

Flowers and I quite like doing trees. I do also do landscapes, but I never feel I’m very good at them. I used to do a lot of trees, possibly because I’m surrounded by them at home. I’m definitely into nature. But I usually end up doing flowers.

Where do you get your inspiration?

When I’m struck by something, could be the light in a puddle, or the feel of a flower. Inspiration can be hard to find. You’re constantly striving to find the right thing.

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

Light and simplicity. I aim to create simplicity with very few brush strokes. Like the Chinese style, two brush strokes and it’s a horse or something like that.

When did you join the Greystones Art Group?

5 or 6 years ago when they were in Charlesland. To carry on painting after the death of John Freeney. Someone suggested G.A.G. and it suited me down to the ground, although there were more watercolour painters then.  

Do you take commissions?

No, I don’t take commissions.

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