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Paint on my fingers

Stella Little is an Irish landscape artist painting in oils. Her subjects range from the scenic grandeur
of Irelands west coast, with which this Gallery begins, to the beauty of the tree-topped drumlins and
loughs around her home in County Monaghan and beyond. She especially delights in the mountain
vistas and seascapes of Connemara and Dingle, where she is pictured (above) in 1993 up on the
Connor Pass in a high wind. She loves her medium, enjoys experimenting with paint textures and
often uses her fingers alone to achieve the effect she is looking for in her pictures. A Gallery of her
paintings follows. Further explanation can be found on pages 4 and 16, or from

"White water near Letterfrack, Connemara" 1989. The rocks near Letterfrack with its hinterland of
rolling drumlins, occasional dwellings, and beyond the Garroun mountain (600m) on the left, and in
the distance some of the peaks of the Twelve Pins range (rising to over 700m)

Turf and mountains, Connemara 1997 (sold to South Carolina, USA)


Shark rock, Connemara 2004 (24 x 37 ins)

Stella walking on Slievanea mountain (620 metres) in Dingle


The boats at Renvyle 1989. Renvyle is on a desolate and rocky north shore in Connemara

Connemara coastline 1989


Stella lives on the border between Counties Monaghan and Cavan. Here on a remote and verdant
hillside (below) with a distant view over the Dromore River, its loughs and drumlins (lower picture),
she has run her family farm and brought up four children, singlehanded since the early death of her
husband. As a farmer she has an abiding love of the land, her animals and of the natural world, all of
which shines through her art. Her family (the Cunninghams of Aughnamullen and Irwins of
Lisnagalliagh) have farmed in this area for at least two hundred years and she has a keen
appreciation of the historical significance of the places and people she paints. This and the deep
enjoyment of the beauty she sees each day walking near her home is reflected in many of her
paintings. Further explanation is at page 16, or from the artist herself at

"Freame Mount" 1987. Stellas farmhouse. For a photo and the history of this great
House, built by Charles Mayne in 1772, see

"'MacMahon Castle', Dartrey, at sunrise" 1989. The view from Freame Mount (above).
More on MacMahons Castle at

"The Inner Lough, Dartrey" 1985. For a wider view of this beautiful lough
and the history of the old Dartrey estate, see

"Dartrey woods in spring" 2006. The old woodland depicted is not typical of Dartrey today,
where the conifers of the Forestry company, who own the estate, now overwhelm it.

"Dartrey demesne". A view from near where Dartrey Castle once stood. See full details of the old
estate at

"Spring bluebells in Dartrey"


Bellamont Forest Estate in winter and summer 1987.

Left: looking across the Dromore River from
Dartrey is the Bellamont Forest estate on which
stands this 18th century villa, described as
one of the finest examples of Palladian
architecture in Ireland. Photo and details at:

Right: the view is again across the Dromore

River, but this time from the bridge which links
Black Island to the mainland. This once fine
metal structure has an expensive cast iron lattice
design, similar to that of the Eifel tower in Paris.
It can be seen here after damage by vandals

The artist can be contacted at


"Dromore Lough, Dartrey"

See photo of river and lough at

Blue boots on a windy shore 1989.


The painter 1991


Pink carnations 1994

Sheep and Little Sugarloaf, Wicklow


Seagulls at Bray 2003. Bray is a favoured seaside town, just south of Dublin,
where some of Stellas grandchildren live

Catherine 2004

"Lough Gill, Sligo" 1996. Photo of the lake at

"The meeting of the waters, Killarney" 1993. See


After school c.1995


"Leitrim bridge" 1996. This atmospheric Leitrim landscape featuring Devorgillas Bridge over the
River Bonet at Dromahair has a historical link. The bridge is near the ruins of the castle of the
ORourkes who ruled 12th century Breffni (CavanLeitrimSligo). Devorgilla was a feisty lady
married to Tiernan ORourke, but in 1152 she eloped with Dermot, the king of Leinster. It seems that
two years later when Dermot was deposed by Tiernan and others, she added to the dissention by
returning to Tiernan. Whereupon the revengeful Dermot obtained help from Henry II of England &
France which resulted not only in Dermots successful reinstatement in Leinster but also in Henry IIs
invasion of Ireland in 1171 which changed Irish history. Devorgilla has a lot to answer for!
Devorgillas Bridge
Dermot stood alone among a tracery of Leitrim trees
Struggling in mist to reach the river bank below,
Tripping cross roots and falling to his knees,
He stopped, and listened closely to the Bonet flow,
Pounding across the stones on its river bed.
No sound yet of the pursuit that wished him dead,
But his minds eye saw only a girl in a silken dress,
With whom for two years he had shared his life and love,
His thoughts dwelling on their last night of tenderness;
Shed left in haste to return to Tiernans evil thrall,
Leaving Dermot bereft, hunted like a dog, no more a king.
But he was strong, ready to take whatever may befall,
While poor Devor at Dromahair was surely weeping
First for a love lost, and then in plea for absolution.
On reaching the river he found a wide fast-flowing run
But far upstream, as the morning mist began to rise,
Was the outline of a tall bridge boasting a double span,
White and majestic, it seemed like the Taj Mahal in size,
Yet strangely insubstantial a mirage? His doubts began;
But soon he reached it, walls as sturdy as his castle keep,
No guards, and with a fervent prayer of thanks he crossed,
Heading south for his Leinster home, there to weep
For Devorgilla, and plan revenge for the love he had lost.


"The rose garden, Polesden Lacey" 1995. A National Trust property near Dorking, Surrey,
which has a famous walled rose garden. Photo at

Left: "St Kevin's church, Glendalough and Right: the Round Tower" 1999. Two parts of an early
Christian monastic settlement in the Wicklow Mountains, consisting of seven churches and a
cathedral. Founded by St Kevin in the 6th century, it attracted students from all over Christendom
until destroyed in the 14th. Photos of the church at
and of the Round Tower at

Wicklow hills in winter 2002. This view painted in winter contrasts starkly
with the beauty of these hills and woods visited by many in summer as in this photo:

"Brodick Bay, Isle of Arran 1998. Mountainous island off the south-west coast of Scotland

As inferred by the title of this Gallery, Stella developed an almost symbiotic relationship with her
medium. The touch, feel, smell and consistency of the paint became for her a vital avenue for closing
on her subject and expressing her feelings in the paint. She had always used her fingers as well as
brushes and knives in her work, but she also took up formal finger painting and in 2010 was the
subject of a television programme in which she demonstrated her methods:

The artist at home: Stella (left) after recording her demonstration of finger painting for the Lesser
Spotted Ulster UTV programme in 2010, with the presenter Joe Mahon (centre) and her son, Brian
Little who now runs the farm, at the entrance to the home farmhouse, Freame Mount, which can be
seen here . The artist herself is at

It was around 2000 when Stella began further developing her technique by using more texture and
colour in her work. She experimented by painting on a variety of surfaces, crushed eggshell and other
unusual textured bases. She searched too for more spontaneity in her work, using the play of light and
colour to capture a joyfully impressionistic vision of her subjects. The effects of these changes can be
seen in some of the succeeding pictures in this Gallery.

Drumlins 1999

"Blue moonlight" 2003. (Oil on board 30" x 38")

Stellas early inspiration came from the beauty of the drumlins, lakes and wildflower meadows of her
home, and she has painted them at sunrise and sunset and in many different lights and seasons. Blue
Moonlight was her first night painting, and represents her move towards a more impressionistic
style. It was professionally selected for the Cavan Artists Touring Exhibition of 2004.

Waiting 2004

Charles 2006 (oil paint on egg shell base)

"October in the Park - Virginia Water 2006. Photo of Stella contemplating the trees she is going to
plant in her garden:

"Mascudo" c.2004. (oils on egg shell base). This great bulls head, lovingly portrayed, and Stellas
sheep, her dogs, and the other animals and birds which appear in her pictures, remind us that for all
her working life she has been a farmer

Cream and Gold c.2005


Free range 2006.

Daybreak, Connemara c.2004


Castle Caldwell 2001. The walls of this once great castle are fading into the past in this mesmeric
painting. The castle has stood on an isthmus beside Lower Lough Erne for five centuries since it was
built as part of the Plantation of Ulster . A photo taken
ten years ago, under which the castles history is described, shows the walls still just visible at: . But today it is reported that the ruins are completely
swallowed up by ivy and the surrounding woodland and no longer visible Sic transit gloria mundi.

Slea Head beach, Dingle 1998. This beach, just south of Dunmore Head directly faces the westerly
gales across Blasket Sound and is popular with surfers despite strong off-shore currents. Beyond is
Slea Head. It was on this (northern) beach of the Bay that most of the shipwreck scenes in David
Leans film Ryans Daughter (1970) were shot. A video of this windy beach at high tide is at

Autumn rendez-vous c.2008. It rather looks like a hot date,

but theres a river between the two which should cool them down!

"Mother and child" at Leitrim 2009.


Autumn colours c.2007

"The lane in winter" 1999. (after Rowland Hilder)


Consuming passions c.2008 (Oils and acrylic mixed media).

A critic commented on this picture in 2010 : Consuming? - I found this arresting painting, which was I understand
inspired by a TV cookery programme, something of a conundrum. The appendages hanging down against an interesting darkness
at the bottom of the picture do bring sausages to mind. However, above them one cannot escape the strong desert theme which
overwhelms the design: snake-like traceries surround what appear to be two eyes in a dark, lined and distorted face, the head
covered by the distinctive Arab Keffiyah, here unusually yellow one imagines to reflect the desert sand and sun. The headdress
is held in place by the blood-red band of brotherhood, and by goggles, to protect against the next sandstorm (the only modern
touch this). Overall the clear inference is that the artist has been reading too much "Beau Geste"!

The house by the harbour c.2006. Part of a West Indian commission of four pictures.

Night of the storm 2005

In Dingle harbour 1994. Dingle, the only town on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, lies below
Slievanea mountain. The towns beautiful natural harbour, facing Dingle Bay to the south, has
colourful boats like these. Harbour video at

Visit to the beach on a blustery day. Stella experimenting in watercolour 2013


The illustrated history of Stellas Irish family can be viewed at
Cunninghams, Irwins and Littles .
Stellas uncle Arthur was one of the casualties of the First World War, whose early death had a
profound influence on her family. In his memory and on the occasion of the centenary of that dreadful
war, the plate below records his gallant service and the three major battles in which he took part.


Paint still on my fingers

Stella in her garden at Cootehill 2015

Anyone interested further in Stellas art is welcome to contact her by e-mail or

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