George Mckenna Current Approach

Technically I prefer to mix colour as little as possible with short thick strokes of paint applied impasto. I like to keep my brushstrokes loose preferring a raw finish to my canvas. I try and paint through my arms and sculpt paint with my hands, I find doing this allows me to fully engage with my work and it generates energy within the painting.

With content I prefer to imply edge and structure through the use of light and colour rather than with hard structural lines. I do this because I’m looking to create a subtle realism of nature but in a clear and uncomplicated manner. Confident strokes of paint when applied correctly give me the effect I’m looking for. I find that if I begin to over complicate or overuse colour then the impact of the image will diminish. If I do find myself doing this then it’s usually a sign that I need to rethink my direction.

If you have already looked through my galleries you will have already gauged that colour is an important aspect for me. I enjoy investigating how colours compliment one other and how partnering certain colours generate specific moods. For instance I find Prussian blue with tint white works for a striking shadow affect and Cobalt blue with Naples yellow works well for a bright afternoon.

Composition is varied in my work; however I do paint in a way that tries to bring the viewer into the canvas. I like to help the viewer imagine the painting extended beyond its canvas size. The subtle use of perspective helps me to do this; heightening the horizon line, having slightly exaggerated brushstrokes in the forefront and ensuring the right balance of reds and blues from foreground to background help to absorb the viewer.

It is important for me to depict not only the world around me but the world at its most vibrant. When starting a landscape I look to understand its personality; in most cases I will make several drawings to familiarise myself with the scene. Once I have this starting point I look to ensure this understanding is kept central to the painting as it evolves and develops. Following this process allows me to have a final piece of work, which naturally depicts the underlying trends and patterns that exist. For me this is fundamental to a successful canvas.

One area that I’m not overly concerned about is spatial balance. I prefer to be experimental in this area. If a painting naturally moves me to a central point or to the edge of a canvas then I allow it to do so. If there are spaces which do not match, I’m not concerned. Again if I am confident, this will show through the brushstrokes and the painting will balance as a result.

I’ve yet to find anything that I wouldn’t use as my subject matter. I have my current preferences such as figure work and reflection; however as an artist who is driven by colour and light, I’m very open to using differing subjects. For me the challenge of painting is fundamentally in the ability to take the complexity of the world and to simplify it while avoiding losing any of the subject’s true character.

Going forward I will be also looking to experiment (especially with reflection) with much larger canvases. An enlarged canvas size will give me a very different set of challenges. I will have to re-examine the approach I take. Whether this means I have to be a little more conscious about spatial balance or perspective; or have to refine how I represent brushstrokes/colour, then I will adapt, but this is the exciting thing about painting. There are no defined rules and there shouldn’t be; merely self-imposed structure and goal setting. Painting for me is also about evolution and individual growth. This is why my approach will change over time.

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Gallery 1

Gallery 2






George Mckenna BA, RWA


Gallery 1 Paintings for purchase

Mother & Child

Gallery 2
Paintings for viewing