Tim J. Leary

Burren College of Art Time, Space & Inspiration

Tim J. Leary


I began my career in the creative arts as a visual merchandiser and window display artist in 1974. At the same time I started my study of art and design. My career in visual merchandising and window display spanned 28 years. I soon realized that when I was engaged in my creative work I felt a spiritual consciousness. This began a quest to study the intersection of art and spirit.

In 1992 I returned to school and earned a Master of Arts in Culture and Spirituality. "Art-as-Meditation," a major component of this M.A. program, helped me to integrate my interests in spirituality and art. My focus on creativity and on art as meditative practice led to the study of Art Therapy. I earned a Post-Master's Certificate in this field. In 2000 I started a teaching career at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Francisco. I currently teach classes in Drawing, Color and Design Theory, Creative Process and Social Psychology.

My goal in coming to the Burren College of Art was to take an extended period of time to delve into my creative process by engaging in consistent art making and contemplation. I hoped to relearn what motivates my pursuit of art while experiencing the ambiance and wonder of County Clare. I intended to explore and develop a visual perspective of the Burren and then share it in the form of paintings and drawings. The first objective was to study the limestone, in order to paint the intriguing shapes that were created by the juxtaposition of the stones. However, I became distracted by the wild flowers I saw blooming in between them. Thus, a second goal emerged. My process evolved in two directions and I found myself creating both paintings and drawings that celebrated the natural shapes of the Burren.

The work I have created looks at both the limestone of the Burren and the plant life that surrounds the area. They seem to coexist, but they don't often intermingle. The mountains are covered with plants, which rise only to a certain level, and then they are capped with layers of ancient stone. My art reflects those two visual perspectives individually.

The abstract green and gray paintings are meant to convey my impression of the shapes created by and between the stones surrounding Poulnabrone Dolmen and the shores of Galway Bay. They focus on the shapes themselves rather than the limestone, as it seems the history of the stones is told in the shapes.

The leaf drawings are intended to honor the beautiful lines and shapes that the leaves take. Reducing the detail makes it possible to see the beauty of the contours of the leaves and their shadows. The lines are simple to illustrate their grace and elegance.

I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have explored the ancient beauty of the west of Ireland and have completed a body of work. I have delved deeply enough into my subject matter that I am certain to be able to continue this work when I return to San Francisco. I have rediscovered my passion for making art and started two new paths to explore.