Jenny McCauley

Jenny McCauley_ScratchboardPortrait

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

Through my mum. Mum always painted and my older sister painted. I then did art in secondary school and after the leaving cert, did an Art Portfolio course in BIFE (Bray Institute for Further Education).

I didn’t finish it and wish I had. Surrounded by all the talent, I felt I wasn’t good enough and instead concentrated on other things such as cycling. And that took over. (Jenny competed in the women’s cross-country mountain biking event at the 2004 Summer Olympics.)

In my mid-thirties I went back to BIFE and completed a 2 year long Graphic Design course, for the purpose of getting employment. Of all the subjects, I liked art the best, although we didn’t do much of that on the course.

I also joined an art group in Wicklow, which was part of the Kilmantin Art Gallery. Rob Teeling ran art classes in the evening and I went along until Covid stopped it. The classes were small and it started me off with oil painting; we were taught how to gesso, how to ground, etc. I kept it up during Covid, with the help of YouTube and other information channels.

What medium/media do you use?

Oils mostly. But I’m really interested in trying them all, every medium has its own quality and I want to try them all. I love the butteriness of oil and the matt look and feel of gouache. I also love the look of crayons and pencils. Or the graphic nature of printing. Printing in all forms really; from gelli plate printing to stamp carving.

What are your favourite subjects?

Landscapes. They’re what move me when I’m looking. I love abstract landscapes too. It definitely has more to do with how you paint than what you paint. But I’m definitely more drawn to landscapes.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I spend so much time outside, rowing, cycling, hill-running. Being outside, it’s usually the quality of light, a lighting effect that really attracts me. I love running in the evening when there’s that golden twilight effect.

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

The feeling of nature that I get, I want to share that. The beautiful light that gives me that sensation. I don’t know why, it’s just the most beautiful thing. I never do get it in paint, but that’s what I want to bring across. Sometimes when you look at a painting, you can get the feeling that the painter had, and they share it. I’m in awe of the light. How is this so glorious and how do we get so much enjoyment from it.

Jenny Aitken gets it and I love that, the light and desaturated colours around it. That’s what I want to do.

When did you join the Greystones Art Group?

Just after Covid, when the group started in Kilcoole. Mum decided to come back and I joined her.

Do you take commissions?

Open to it, yes.

Are you working on any special projects?

I’m working on an Avoca landscape, caught in a nice evening light. I’ve got some abstract acrylic paintings on the go for experimenting and I’m binding a couple of sketchbooks, I love bookbinding.
I love textiles as well, knitting and crochet. And there’s some cross-stitching in progress. Weaving, I love when all these techniques are combined. I’m experimenting with calligraphy in the work, especially in abstract work. Also mixed media sketchbooks, trying that as well.

I’m thinking of joining a 100 day project, i.e. commit for 100 days to whatever you undertake. Like sketchbook practice or small paintings. Maybe collage, maybe 3” x 3”, put them together to learn about composition. I got as far as 37 mini landscape paintings last year. That was very useful and helped me in making quick decisions.

Instagram: jennymcc_art