When possible Niamh paints and sketches outdoors in the coastal area around Staithes and Whitby and on the Yorkshire Moors. She has also travelled and painted in Ireland, New Zealand and Cyprus.
She enjoys the excitement of watercolour with its risks and dangers and the extent to which it allows for experimentation. Her work demonstrates a love of wet into wet washes onto which she imposes detail with line and tonal value. She has been influenced by the Impressionists, the Staithes Group, Chinese brush watercolourists and by English Watercolourists past and present.
Largely self-taught, Niamh has sketched and produced artwork in pen and wash throughout her life. As a child she lived in Hong Kong and she would watch with fascination, the Chinese brush watercolourists painting outside on the waterfront and in the markets and alleyways. She tried to emulate their work and spent many hours attempting to reproduce in her own landscape paintings their economy of brushwork and their confidence and deftness. Later she worked with wax resists and washes to produce a series of reclining figures. She now works almost exclusively in watercolour, finding the medium particularly suited to the unpredictability and the ever-changing landscapes of moor and coast.
Design and composition are important elements to Niamh’s work: “my eye is often caught by some quirky arrangement of lines or blocks of colour, particularly in a place like Staithes where the unusual angles of buildings create really interesting and expressive patterns”. Her paintings also demonstrate effective use of colour harmony - where bright and complementary colours are set against low intensity tones - and it is this interplay that gives such impact when rendering light and shadow in her landscape painting.
For subject matter, Niamh says she never sets out to sketch or paint a subject with much premeditation, finding instead that the subject chooses her. There are places however, which are regular haunts, to which she returns over and again, such as Cowbar Nab at Staithes, the cliffs at Kettlenesss or the paths of the Cleveland way: “It is usually an effect of the light or of the weather which captures my attention and motivates me to set up my easel or get out my sketchbook. Returning to a place and seeing it at a different time of day or time of year, in a totally altered atmosphere, alters my response to it”. She says that some of the most attractive landscapes are ones of soft dreamy winter light or misty mornings created as the land is beginning to warm up in early spring. "The cold can actually be helpful on such occasions and stops me from procrastinating and from being too fussy or precious about the painting. Thermal underwear is also helpful", she admits.
She cites as influences on her work: the English Watercolour school past and present, and the work of Edward Wesson and David Curtis - admiring in both the purity of their work in retaining the transparency of the medium. “Thankfully there are now many opportunities to study the work of these and other masters because there are books and DVDs and the opportunity at demonstrations to see artists in action”.
Niamh now joins the Fylingdales Group whose prestigious history dates back to 1928 and includes well-known and respected names from the past such as Rowland Hill and Fred Williams and current names such as David Curtis, Michael Atkin, Christine Pybus and John Freeman. Make a note of the name Niamh Hanlon: you will be hearing much more from this talented artist.
She is a member of Whitby Art Society and a member of the Fylingdales Group of Artists.
Niamh has exhibited throughout the region, including recently at the Pannett Gallery in Whitby with the Fylingdales Group of Artists.
2007 – Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby Art Society Annual Exhibition
2007 – Staithes, St Peters Centre, Salt and the Earth, joint exhibition with Tony Murphy.
2008 – Scarborough East Coast Open
2008 – Staithes Gallery, RNLI Annual Exhibition
2008 – The Fylingdales Group of Artists
2009 - Staithes Gallery, RNLI Annual Exhibiiton
2009 - The Fylingdales Group of Artists Annual Exhibition.
2010 - The Fylingdales Group of Artists Annual Exhibiton
2010 - MOOR TO SHORE - North York Mooors Centre, Danby 25th May - 7th June 10am-5pm daily.