Deirdre Dunne is from Co Laois but is now based in Co Limerick, near a small village called Kilbeheny in the Galtee Mountains. Deirdre’s parents encouraged her to pursue a career in art by getting her to enter lots of art competitions. She attended the Crawford Art College in Cork, obtaining an honours degree.

What did you do before becoming a full-time artist?

After college I travelled a lot and worked various jobs. I then returned to Ireland and did a sign writing course which took me back to my passion for painting. Since then, I have managed to keep my art career going while also working as a tour guide in Africa and Australia, and then running a mobile catering business in a double-decker bus around Ireland.

Is place important?

Yes. I find that having a studio to work in is very important. I often work on a few pieces alongside each other and having a dedicated space to hang the work and stand back from it is essential. My studio is surrounded by forest and mountains, so lots of inspiration at my doorstep.

What is your favourite thing to paint?

Animals, but recently I have been enjoying working on a series of paintings of people looking out their window during lockdown.

Tell us about your work

I paint wildlife, landscapes and people in acrylic and oil. I grew up on a farm, so feel very much at home with cattle and sheep. I spent many years travelling by bicycle around the world. Being outside so much and camping in nature, watching the light change is perhaps one of the reasons that painting landscapes appeals to me. There are lots of artists in Ireland that paint cows but I try paint them as realistic as possible.

What has been your career highlight?

When I was only 16 I was the youngest ever winner of “The Moyclare Stud” art competition.

In 2019, I was selected for a solo art exhibition at Waterford University Hospital.

What is your process?

First, I gather the images to work from and then work out a composition. Then I paint the canvas an earthy brown colour and draw out the image in chalk. Then I paint the first layer in acrylic paint and then it’s around three layers of oil paint, slowly building up the detail.

Then it dries and gets varnished.

Has COVID-19 impacted you?

Yes. We run a small glamping site at our property, so I would usually have lots of tourists visiting my gallery and making purchases. But that has been very quiet now. Also, I normally attend a few Christmas markets. But this year I had to spend a lot of time online promoting my work and then posting out the paintings and prints. It was a lot more time consuming and I feel it’s always nicer if the customer can see the original painting in person.

Who are your customers?

My customers are often originally from a farming background. But I often get surprised at how many people love paintings of elephants and cows, but have no obvious connection to them.

What are your thoughts on social media?

In the last few years I have begun to use it more. It’s a great way to get your art out to people that normally would not get that chance. I run painting workshops sometimes and use Facebook to advertise these.

What if money is tight for a customer?

I have recently started selling framed prints of my work. I have even had a few children purchase a print with their own money.

Deirdre can be contacted on Facebook (Deirdre Dunne Fine Art) and Instagram (deirdredunneartist). She also has a website Prices range from €35 to €60 for a framed print and from €200 to €1,000 for an oil painting.

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