Artist Richard Henry’s journey through Ireland – One painting at a time

Photos: Richard Henry

By Lucy Murray

After his first trip to Ireland, artist Richard Henry felt there had to be something more to explore, admire, and paint. After his second trip, he realised he was right.

The American artist stands and observes as the water ebbs and flows through the canals of Galway City.

With a paintbrush in hand, he studies the complex shadows, exciting colours, and vibrant atmosphere that define the heart of the town and begins to bring the landscape to life on his canvas.

He is here with a clear goal: to capture the most beautiful places that define the West of Ireland through one painting a day.

A painter’s life

Galway Bay – Oil on canvas

Painting has always been what is closest to Richard’s heart since he was a little kid. Watching his teacher create a drawing on the blackboard in third grade, he recalls thinking: ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up’.

Years later, he found his passion in plein-air painting; for him, artistic inspiration could be found in everyday life.

“I spent my summers at my grandfather’s farm in Pennsylvania, surrounded by lots of natural beauty from the river and the mountains. That connection with nature, it’s easy for everyone,” he said.

“When you’re out in the countryside where it’s peaceful, you can hear the birds or feel the wind.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the desert, the mountains, or the plains. I’m just always fascinated by the variety of landscapes right in front of us.”

The natural beauty of Galway

Galway Bay Canal  – Oil on canvas

Building on this admiration for enchanting landscapes and the tranquillity of nature, his journey led him to knock on Ireland’s door in 2018.

Even with a first adventure in the Irish countryside under his belt, Richard could sense an untapped potential and decided that 2023 would mark his return.

“When I came to Ireland for the first time, I was just in Galway for one day. So, coming back to Galway was important for me this time,” he said.

“The idea of it was always that there was so much more to see here. On that first trip, I started walking around and came across the Spanish Arch. I think I painted The Long Walk three times because there was just so much beauty to take from it.

“It was intriguing because I knew that around every corner, there was going to be a structure that I could think about and wonder how much work it took to build and how it’s still here now and long-lasting.”

History and culture

Richard explained what keeps bringing him back: “It’s so different from painting the United States. It’s because of the age of the country and how much history it has, and that’s something that I want to experience. Just to be able to come here and find these old structures still here, it’s amazing.

“The culture is fascinating, the people are fascinating. I think Irish people are very charming; it’s their warmth. The streets are always full of these people, and it’s the best.”

From the quaint scenes and smiling faces that define Galway City to the larger-than-life castles and open spaces that characterise Kinvara, Richard’s trip around the West coast of Ireland was one to remember.

“I would come here every other year if I could, just to explore more areas and paint more Irish landscapes.”

Richard’s work can be found on his website.

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