What Do You See? Let’s explore the work of Pamela Leonard

What Do You See?

Look & respond to a selection of artworks within Fingal’s County Council’s Art Collection with artist Beth O’Halloran.

Cruinniu na nOg 2020 is here! And we’re delighted to share several educational arts activities with you to explore while you stay close to home. We invited artist Beth O’Halloran to develop text and activities inspired by three significant artworks from Fingal’s County Art Collection. Ideal for all ages and abilities, you’re invited to look, imagine, create and draw today! Let’s celebrate the arts, creativity and self-expression together.

On a Hillside in Howth, by Pamela Leonard, 2015, Etching, 

In this image, we see a row of majestic Scots Pines. The trees lead our eye from the front left into the dark woodlands beyond. The trees continue beyond the page making them appear all the grander. Although we know this was inspired by a hillside in Howth, just a few miles from the city centre, it has a sense of wilderness to it. Can you see any evidence of human presence in the piece? How does this add to the wildness? What other elements might add to any sense of drama in this piece? Can we tell anything about the weather conditions on the day? Or what season it might be? In what way does that add to the feeling we get from it?

Pamela has used black outlines in much of this etching. Can you see how the black makes the trees look flat? Does the print look like it was made today or might it look like it was done a long time ago? Why? Might it remind you of Japanese woodblock prints?

In these images, the trees read as characters. How might you describe them if the trees were people? Images of forests are considered ‘archetypes’ – this means that they tap into a part of us that we all have in common. Most people feel a bit uncertain when facing dark woodlands. Do you think Pamela is mixing feelings in this piece?

Pamela uses a lot of pattern-making. The trees and grasses are made with vertical lines. The clouds look like illustrations. For your own artwork, you might keep these ideas of pattern in mind.

Here’s an idea for you to try at home:
An etching like Pamela’s is made by building up layers of separate colour ‘plates’ – these are sheets of copper which have parts of the image etched into them and then placed on top of each other in the printing process. To mimic the printmaking processes which Pamela used, can you choose a subject – perhaps the view from your window, then completely fill in a sheet of paper with oil pastel or crayon.

• Then using either black paint or black paper, make a ‘silhouette’ of a scene to go on top of the coloured background. If you use black paint to cover the scene, scratch into the paint to reveal the colour underneath (I used a knitting needle to scratch black paint off the image on the right).
• Download some examples Beth tried by clicking the link above.