Artist Process

Diving for Pearls 2019

Sinéad Ní Chionaola has been painting as an abstract landscape artist for over twenty years. In recent years Sinéad has also been exploring her own inner landscape and how it can be externalised in her paintings in both a figurative and expressionist way. At times the inner and outer landscapes have been dark, but as we know, no grit, no pearl.

In this exhibition at The Old Market House Arts Centre, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford Sinéad’s focus has been on finding beauty in the everyday. Diversions, due to road works, on the way to school, gave the pearl of being able to watch a beautiful sun rise each morning.

Sinéad’s increasingly mindful approach to her art and her life, allows her to slow down and to catch the moment. Painting pictures of her children from recent holiday snaps, reawakens the feelings of joy and delight experienced on the holiday.

For Sinéad her work on her own inner world and journey, through her art and other practices, increasingly opens her up to whatever the outer world and life will bring for her in the future.

Capturing the moment Series 2018


I create work in series. I have been painting as an abstract landscape artist for over 20 years creating work that is more expressional than representational. More recently in this series I have been exploring the re-introduction of the figure into my work – similar to the works of David Park, Michael Kane, Henri Matisse, Marlene Dumas and Anna Bjerger.

During the winter I challenged myself to do a lot more drawing with pencil. This summer I focused on making the time to be in the studio. I forewent all other day to day distractions that life can present and painted fully present with the process and trying not to focus on the end result.

I used photographs as preparatory sketches and as a reference for the paintings. I let the painting guide me to the next intuitive step. It was important to me to have thin layers of paint and to be able to see the colours one under another so I used a matt gel medium to improve colour blending and the flow of the paint.

Allowing the drips to remain is deliberate. I resisted the urge to overpaint these areas and the places where I had specifically left sparse – in contrast to areas that are more impasto.

Specifics of the Series

I wanted to convey the sense of a nocturnal adventure, of excitement and a feeling of breaking the rules.

In these paintings I could feel me breaking my own rules, taking myself by surprise and painting outside of my comfort zone. I was painting something that was close to me and distorting it – the strange colour in my daughter’s face, a leg refracted by the light. In contrast to the paint handling of the figures, I wanted to let the paint splash and be free around them.

What interested me as I was painting this was the distorting effect that the water had on the figures. I felt that I could use this to capture movement, light on the water, the fleeting expressions on my children’s faces and thus convey a sense of energy and vitality.

This distortion allows me to paint the figures without fear or a need for representation. Light is streaming through the bottom figure making her almost unrecognisable. The other figures face is covered by the water. The two girls are completely absorbed in their swimming which keeps them separate.

I kept the planes of light separate in some areas, blending with paint in other areas to create a fluid interplay of light, colour, fun, fear and spontaneity.

Artist Biograph

Dungarvan, where I grew up, is a coastal town and harbour, in Co. Waterford. I have been committed to capturing water effects and the sea ever since I painted my first sunset over the harbour as a young child.

I have lived in Cork, Dublin, London, New Jersey and France. I am now settled in Killeagh, Co. Cork with my two daughters, who also act as my focus group!

I have won many important awards and residencies which have enabled me to work and exhibit in America, Australia, Canada and Europe. My work forms part of major corporate, civic and private collections.