Guest Bloggers

Stephen Rooney: A watercolour artist inspired by the Mountains of Mourne

A quick talk about my latest watercolour piece, which was a twenty minute sketch featuring a local scene.


I am lucky enough to live in Mourne – Northern Ireland.  I have all the inspiration any artist could ask for, all on my doorstep, quite literally. The Mourne Mountains are famously known for their ever-changing mood and tone. Did you know the Mourne Mountains inspired ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ – C.S Lewis? And so many more. For centuries these Mountains I call Home, have inspired countless movie stars, poets, singer/song writers, and artists – and I am just another Artist who is inspired by Mourne – but luckily, I live right here! Anyhow – enough of my rambling! This quick sketch came totally out of the blue. I was sitting on my bed, looking out to the mountains and fields, as heavy showers came and went. The showers and sunlight battled with one another, and it was hard to place a bet on who would win. Sun-kissed fields in the foreground, where in contrast to the showery skies moving in behind. I just had to get my paints out, and sketch something!! My main aim was the sky. The rest of the painting, I was not particularly bothered on the scene, the sky was all I aimed to capture. So – I began washing in some tones. My sky area was pre-dampened with my water spray bottle. This meant the sky – or paper, was already alive before any I added colour! I quickly got to work splashing in my tones, and began to see it would look great with a local Mountain. So I added (lightly) Slieve Binnian as you can see here, and washed the sky colours over, so it was all mixing and merging. As the top was left to do its bit, and dry a little. I washed in some Ochre fields to the foreground, leaving three white circular areas for interest. Interpret these as you may. Sheep? Granite boulders? … In the middle sort of ground, I washed in this simple – yet effective, cottage. You can see the front of the cottage is simply white paper, along with the chimneys. I then suggest some Ochre tree’s, and dropped in some Phatlo Blue to the right. Can you see who this created a lovely pale – almost misted look? As it was all still so wet, the colours worked themselves. So – whilst all the bottom and middle areas were drying – I took some kitchen paper – and lifted out some misty clouds or rain spray from the sky and Mountain. Now it really looked as though rain is rolling in. After only twenty minutes of Painting, I had a very pleasing scene. I left it to dry, and this is what I got.


20140717 Stephens artwork 1


I very much feel that the quicker we Artists Paint with watercolours – the better the end result. Sometimes I do spend hours on a painting – and they can look great, but more often than not, my quick, loose washes are the best!  The main colours I used for this where: Ochre, Medium Yellow (just a touch), Phatlo blue, and, Crimson. I never use masking fluid – or white, so that white areas are either white paper, and/or, dabbed out areas using kitchen paper. I hope you enjoy this.  Stephen.


Words and Art by artist Stephen Rooney

( @artistrooney )

6 replies »

  1. Lovely article and a very atmospheric piece. Both the work and your words remind me of the Crowded House song, Locked Out:

    And the hills are as soft as a pillow
    And they cast a shadow on my bed
    And the view when I look through my window
    Is an altarpiece I’m praying to for the living and the dead

    The twin valleys shines in the morning sun
    I send a message out to my only one


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