St. Kevin & the Blackbird


Nearly two years (January 24th specifically ) I started this small panel painting. Having been introduced to the saint through the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ depictions of the holy man, I was then inspired by the late Seamus Heaney’s incredible poem of the saint and his feathered visitor ( Link : But for some reason the inspiration waned and I stashed this little panel away until only recently, picking it up again last December. I believe he is now complete.


St. Kevin and the Blackbird


oil on panel

12 by 12″

When I started this painting a few years back I also carved a plate of the saint from which this painting is inspired. I believe it is the first of what is now becoming a dual practice, making a painting then a print (or  the reverse).


I will now get back to a few other unfinished paintings; I always have far too many unfinished works, doodles and sketches of paintings I would like to make. Daunting at times. I am now enrolled in a life drawing class with the painter Jim Morphesis an artist I admire very much. Jim had awarded me a prize last summer for my painting Genesis and I was eager to thank him AND crash his course. Happy to say I have been added. So I am looking forward to that experience, a model at every class , always a luxury. Until next time, be well.

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

8 thoughts on “St. Kevin & the Blackbird”

  1. I’m so touched that you returned to complete the painting. It’s incredible, is it not, that a single, quite short poem, can inspire such bodies of work as we’ve both produced. The fact is, every time I think I’m done with Kevin and his blackbird, he comes back to find me again, and I’m enthralled anew.

    Your painting is vibrant, heartfelt and beautiful. (As is the print.) I’m glad to have 9very0 indirectly responsible for it coming into being, by pointing you toward Heaney. Well done, dear friend.

    It’s interesting, too that just as your work has evolved to take in relief print-making, so my practice is evolving toward the screen-print as a means of expression, in my collaboration with the Penfold Press. I have always loved your paintings, but I have an especially soft spot for your prints, which are wonderfully enlivening.

    1. Oh Clive, I am happy to hear from you. I am also pleased you like the painting. It is incredible, the power of the word, and Heaney was incredibly influential. I agree, Kevin and his dear blackbird will be with me for some time, to be explored I am sure time and again ( as will that other Clivean directed archetype, the Green Knight).
      I have seen your new prints and they are stunning . I know nothing of screen printing, relying pretty much upon relief, but next semester I plan to further explore intaglio and then lithography, perhaps after that screen printing and serigraphs.
      I’m benefitting quite a bit from your paper cutting, so much to be gleaned and to learn from this expression, so applicable to relief printing. So eager to see where it goes for you and for Peter.
      Once again, thank you.

  2. Like your good self Leonard, I fell in love with the Seamus Heaney poem because of Clive and his inspirational work on the subject, which means I couldn’t resist coming to your blog to explore futher when I saw your post at Facebook.

    I am in agreement with Clive and Phil. You have definitely brightened this dull January day for me with your beautiful painting and print, which both really capture Saint Kevin’s extraordinary closeness to nature. I look forward to seeing what other treasures you might unearth from your archive this year!!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful words. My husband David and I were re-reading Heaney last evening and I was struck by the earthiness of the poem; that hadn’t consciously resonated for me initially, his ambivalent sacrifice did. But now my mind is swimming with primal images of this dear anchorite. Must see where it goes .
      I’m sorry it is dull weather you are having, pop over to LA, it’s always as green as Kevin’s Hernitage 🌞. We have a pull out reserved for you.
      Be well and may the spring blossoms emerge soon!

      1. Thank you for the kind invitation. Leonard. I must admit that the sunshine of Los Angeles does sound tempting on a grey January day in Yorkshire!!

        It’s good to hear you have discovered something new in your re-reading of Heaney. Have you come across his translation of Beowulf? I have a feeling you might enjoy this 1,000 year old saga of the future-king who is called on by a neighbouring ruler for help when a monster terrorises his domain. It’s subtle and savage and distinctly earthy!! (-:

      2. I’m crazy about his translation of Beowulf but I haven’t yet approached it visually . I’m crazy about Armitage and his Green Knight of course as well. But what really inspired me is Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh ( and Job). Vivid writing , cries out to the pencil or brush .
        I’ve just finished A Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham, you might like that as well , I enjoyed it. In the vein of Carter and her reinterpretation of fairy lore. So nice chatting with you and I wasn’t at all glib , if you ever find yourself in So Cal please ring us up . Our Little Hermitage is your Little Hermitage!

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