September 2023: Abstract landscape paintings

Abstract landscape paintings by aisling drennan

In 2019 I began making abstract landscape paintings. I never thought I would make work in response to a landscape as it had not appealed to me and at the time I was interested in the materiality of oil paint and how it could be structured, manipulated and played with. There are many options in how oil paint can be used and I wanted to explore them all but I also felt I wanted to move my work in a different direction.

So what changed my painting direction?

I applied to do an artist residency at Cill Rialaig artist retreat in Co. Kerry. I had heard about it through an artist friend and was intrigued.  I was offered a place and was thrilled as this was my first time doing something like this. Cill Rialaig is a beautiful and secluded retreat located near Ballinskelligs in County Kerry, Ireland. It is a serene and inspiring environment which gives natural inspiration through its stunning surroundings.

abstract landscape paintings

My cottage at Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat

What I really loved was each artist was given a restored famine cottage to immerse themselves in their work. My cottage was right on the sea with breathtaking views of the Skellig Islands.

Starting point for my abstract landscape paintings

I didn’t see anyone else for the first three days of the residency. It was just me, a view of the Skelligs from my cottage window and my paint box & brushes. I began thinking about this landscape and how I could approach it. As an abstract artist, my approach to abstract landscape painting is to use colour, form, and composition to create an overall impression. I wanted to rely on my experience of abstraction and experimentation to convey a sense of my experience at Cill Rialaig.

Abstract landscape paintings by aisling drennan

Elevate 1, 2019, oil paint and oil bar on paper.

What is Abstract Landscape Painting?

Abstract landscape painting is a contemporary form of painting which focuses on capturing the essence and beauty of natural landscapes in a non-representational way. Unlike traditional landscape painting, which aims to depict a realistic representation of a specific location, abstract landscape painting seeks to express a different way of looking at natural beauty.

I started by making studies of the rocks and playing with their shape while also using different materials of oil bar, pencil, and charcoal to achieve various textures. When my time at the residency came to an end I had made the foundations for a whole new body of abstract landscape paintings. I brought them back to my studio in London which was a slight culture shock of sorts as the work was made in such a serene, rural setting and was now in a loud, urban setting- quiet the contrast. 

Abstract landscape paintings by aisling drennan

Skelliag A-haon, 2019, oil paint, charcoal and oil bar on paper.

Back to my London Studio

Once settled back in my London studio I set about developing these new abstract landscape paintings. I was pleased with the direction they were taking and was offered a solo show at the Graham Hunter Gallery to exhibit my new paintings. The show went well and I continued to make work inspired by my time at Cill Rialaig artist retreat.

Four years on I feel like I’ve finally exhausted that body of work and am beginning to wind it down. It performed very well and I feel really proud of what I learned through its making. This body of work has been housed in international collections, hanging in Gordan Ramsay’s new restaurant at the Savoy Hotel and selected for exhibitions at the Royal Cambrian and Royal Ulster Academy of Art.

I now have new ideas that I want to explore so I think its time to give abstract landscape paintings a great and see what comes next into my studio!

Aisling Drennan is an award-winning abstract artist with a London, UK-based art studio.

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