Guest Bloggers

“bright white light broke through the gathering snow” – artist Stephen Rooney on his wonderful watercolour snowscape

I am so glad to be welcoming back Stephen Rooney to the guest blog spot. In a cynical age where art is often seen as a commodity, it is so refreshing to read of the raw inspiration that Stephen finds in nature, here in particular during the early 2015 snow blizzards in the Mountains of Mourne.  For me, it recalls Wordsworth – the idea of hiking out into the wildnerness, facing nature, and the pantheistic divine driving the instinctive urge to create.


“To be an Artist, I believe you have a calling in particular. Something which you may feel is only happening because you’re here, because it distinctly wants, or needs you to paint it! Just like in many other aspects of life, there are certain things we just have to do!

For me, painting the Snow is just one of those things – and right up there as my top favourite subject to paint. Ever since I was a little boy I had to be out in the thick of the snow, once it would start falling, and over the years many things have changed in my life, but not the wanting to be out in the Snow.

Over the years, my love for Snow has only gone from strength to strength, and so too has the sense of connection – like I know it! Like the Snow is actually somebody very dear to me, whom I lost a couple of years back. So, not only is the Snow pretty to look at, pretty to paint, but for me, more importantly, Snow to me is a God send. It has an affect on me which brings me closer to the Heavens, and all my Angels, which no Church can provide. From a Young age, snow always had my love, and I do believe it was the Snow which called me to be an Artist. As if I was put on this Earth solely to paint snow. Sounds silly – but to me, makes perfect sense!

"Snowy hike up Binnian" by Stephen Rooney

“Snowy hike up Binnian” by Stephen Rooney


This Watercolour is a view near to my Home. I live where the beautiful Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the Sea, in SE Down, Northern Ireland. They’re a small range of Mountains, but their beauty could rival most Mountains ranges of the World! This winter I have walked and hiked these Mountains in all weather conditions, but mainly the Snow. The view is from the slopes of Slieve Binnian, looking towards Comedagh on the Northern edge of the Mourne range.

The inspiration came from my second hike in December just gone. I had been the afternoon before, right to the very top, in a white out Blizzard (not recommended) but I just had to go to welcome ‘home’ to me the first Snows of Winter. Obviously, in such conditions I could see nothing, so the next morning I trekked back up in the most beautiful winter light. It was just as I painted it here.

In the foreground were the long Ultramarine Shadows, cast down from the summit due to the low light, but off in the middle ground, a zone of bright white light broke through the gathering snow clouds, rolling in on a strong Northerly wind which was biting! Off towards the distant mountains the shadows came and went as the clouds hurtled past. I paused here for quite a few minutes to take it all in, and to snap a few photo’s before heading on to the summit.

This view stuck with me all this winter – and the beauty I had witnessed on that day, so just two days ago as snow showers blew in, I was inspired to paint this very scene, whilst standing at my room window as snow flurries fell. Part of me felt I was back up that summit on that wintry day! The whole painting worked so well, and I felt every stroke. I used a very limited palette of only three colours. (Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umbre)

The whites are the natural white of the paper, which I had just left and painted around. I never use masking fluid, nor do I mask any areas of my paper off with tape, and so on. I just leave my white areas and paint around them and let the whole thing take its course naturally, just as nature does Herself!


I hope you enjoy my Painting, and enjoy the read into the inspiration and passion behind it.”


Words and art: Stephen Rooney

Twitter: @ArtistRooney

7 replies »

  1. This is my son’s painting and one of my all time favourites….I am very proud of Stephen and his achievements. …I remember Stephen as a young boy sitting in the kitchen with his paint brushes, little cup of water and his blank paper….His love for art and nature was evident….This love has grown with age and Stephen is at his happiest when he is capturing the beauty of the mourns through his paintings…His paintings just keep getting better…


  2. Art , and the artist’s life, is not something you choose – it chooses you. And it has surely chosen Stephen Rooney.
    There are painters who paint ideas from their heads – which is fine. But there are also artists who paint inspiration direct from their heart and soul. For me, this is a higher sort of art and just what Stephen has done here in this gorgeous work. This is a painting that speaks to us at a deeper, more moving level.
    So while this is a painting “of” an amazingly beautiful scene, for me it is not “about” that scene as much as it is about the deep well of inspiration and emotion that the scene – and the snow – evoked within the artist.
    For an artist to be able to transmit to the viewer so clearly that sense of wonder and inspiration and joy in such a direct and powerful manner – all while using no tricks and such a simple limited palette – is a rare and beautiful thing.


  3. I am not any artist but I look at Stephen’s work and I feel every stroke of his brush. Such emotion and feeling that is evident in his beautiful paintings and which instantly transports the viewer. It gives me a feeling of great joy. Stephen’s talent will no doubt continue to grow and I will continue to follow his amazing progress with a song in my heart.


  4. Stephen, I have been watching your painting develop this past while on Facebook (was shown by my cousin, who is also a fan) and it has been my pleasure to get the chance to see your wonderful work. Your love of the snow and your feeling of closeness to it comes through in your art. May you continue with your passion and may we all be inspired by it. Many thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s