I traveled to Trinity Buoy Wharf to sketch London’s only lighthouse, Bow Creek or Trinity Lighthouse, a day before my visit to see the paintings of JMW Turner in the Tate Museum in London. I admire the art of Turner and was excited about my upcoming visit to the Tate Museum. There was much to see-Turner bequeathed over 300 paintings to museum.
But first I was headed to the lighthouse. As we got off the Tube, we followed the directional signs to Trinity Buoy Wharf. Once there, we happened upon a lightship, in addition to the lighthouse. Two light vessels at one stop! Amazed, I hurriedly sketched the lighthouse. As the wind flipped the pages, I quickly sketched the lightship while my daughter took shelter in a nearby restaurant.
As I sketched the lightship, I thought about Turner and pondered how I could pay tribute to him. Pausing for moment, I became spellbound by the lightship that was now converted into a studio. It seemed pregnant with stories of its past.
Back in the United States, I looked at my yellow foreground and became inspired when I read how much Turner used yellow. According to the book How to Paint like Turner, “Some of Turner’s most daring and experimental innovations centered around his use of yellow. It seems to have been his favorite color and he used it liberally…For more than thirty years his use of yellow became one of the most frequently mentioned aspects of his art, with critics variously accusing him of ‘yellow fever’…”
“The History Lesson” and other thought provoking paintings on display.
Limerick was a perfect place to begin my lighthouse tour of Ireland. I learned about the history of the Irish people at the Hunt Museum’s exhibit “A Terrible Beauty.” It gave me valuable insight into the culture and the history behind the formation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A silver coin thought to be the coin Judas received to betray Jesus.
The Hunt has a collection of 2,000 original works of art. I was fascinated by a coin said to be one of the silver coins Judas was given to betray Christ. There were modest works by Renoir and Picasso I admired.
I enjoyed the special exhibit “Terrible Beauty” by Robert Ballagh. It is a centennial reflection on the Irish uprising. Ballagh revisits paintings like Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People”, Goya’s “Third of May” and other reinterpretations to bring to light the universal struggle for social justice. They provide a powerful backdrop to Ballagh’s other paintings that are a personal narrative about the courageous leaders of the uprising. I was especially intrigued by “The History Lesson.”
View of the Shannon River from the Hunt Museum.
After touring with a docent, I stopped by the Museum cafe for tea and a light bite. I walked along a walkway outside the Museum to catch a glimpse of the Shannon River and King John’s Castle to complete my visit.
Y Self portrait of JMW Turner.
I admire the works of JMW Turner a romantic artist who is known as Britain’s greatest artist. I had seen the movie “Mr. Turner” and was thrilled now to be in London where his works were exhibited in the Tate Britain Museum. There are other artists in the Tate Britain but it was only Turner who I wanted to see.
As I entered the museum, I asked about the Turner paintings. Walking toward the gallery, I was hoping the paintings would not be a disappointment. Thankfully, I was overwhelmed by breadth of the exhibit. It was like taking a walk with a mentor and learning what inspired him. Each group of paintings captured a phase in his life and gave me a clearer understanding of my life as an artist.
Seeing Turner’s sketchbook was very moving for me. When an artist shares his skektch he is sharing his heart. It reminded me of my sketchbook.
For most of my life, I had struggled with my calling as an artist. Coming from a family of mathematicians and scientists, I was never truly understood or appreciated as a child. At the Turner exhibit, I finally found self acceptance and inner peace as I strolled through his life.
Turner had the support of a loving father and excelled early as an artist. He won many accolades throughout his life. Turner would sometimes finish a painting while it was hanging moments just before an exhibit opened to the amazement of fellow artists.
Turner loved the ocean and captured it eloquently. He unleashed the fury and power of the ocean in his paintings.
Waves Breaking on a Shore.
His art revealed life with all its sorrows and emotions. Turner felt deeply about life and it is reflected in his paintings. He did not paint as a spectator.
Death of a Pale Horse.
He was not afraid of controversy. He faced criticism as his paintings became more expressive and less representational. He continued to challenge societal norms and himself throughout his life. He left an indelible mark on Great Britain and me. Here’s to Turner! Britain’s greatest artist.