Artist Statement

Within our universe I believe time can be identified but beyond it I feel it’s possible that time has no real beginning or end. I often question my own reality and the imminence of my end, as dark as that may sound. Although I believe that, I also see life is a celebration in contrast and can only be lived in a way knowing that we were the lucky ones so to say. I still look to find reasons how or why we are here however and there is no real answer. By making art, it allows me to achieve a sense of belonging in the world.

I have a huge appreciation for nature and I try to surround myself in it as much as I can. Often when out walking I get a deep sense of my surroundings and it can be very overwhelming at times. I sketch elements of the landscape that appeal to me using thick stubs of charcoal and pencil to simplify detail as I draw constantly while the hand moves across the paper in few gestures. I am more concerned with constantly looking and seeing as I absorb the surrounding atmosphere while sketching it down quickly.

My paintings are in response to that experience as the drawing process continues onto the painting back in the studio. A process that allows me to start the painting freely and expressively through memory, loose gestural movements and making marks. Colour, light and atmosphere are important to the work and I try to achieve these elements organically throughout.

Drawing directly on the canvas in charcoal and pencil introduce a composition as I work up the surface with several layers of paint mixed with coldwax. I love the fullness and richness coldwax gives the paint, leaving a lush matte texture. I mix most of my own colours and that can often be the ‘adventure’ over the painting process itself. When I find the colour I put it down and from there one colour determines the next, just as the charcoal drawing marks and movements inform the next and the layers build upon each other. Along the way the painting begins to take on its own identity and that is where the excitement begins. I don’t think too much about the result or pre-determine how the painting will finish.


Derval graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design 1996 and she has been painting ever since. She was based in several different locations between Co. Clare and Limerick city and she is now permanently based in Glen of the Downs, Co. Wicklow.

Her first solo exhibition was in Limerick 2007, entitled ‘Urban Trail’. It showed a collection of work based on her city surroundings while living there at the time. The same year she decided to move back to her home in Co. Clare to get back to the rural landscape she loved and missed while living in the city. She took up an art residency in Cill Rialaig artist retreat in Co. Kerry where the experience of the isolated surroundings deepened a passion for nature and abstract landscape painting.

Derval has exhibited in many solo and group shows throughout the years, some of which include Signal Arts Centre Wicklow, Ranalagh Arts Dublin, The Schoolhouse For Art in Enniskerry, Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Gallery 75 in Limerick, Tipperary Institute in Co. Tipperary and Frame Gallery in Limerick. She is currently painting full time at her Wicklow studio.

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