Dublin native Ray Carroll is a professional artist who has made a name for himself in contemporary Irish art circles as a painter who explores the deep spiritual, mystical elements of ancient Celtic art and architecture.
Using oils, acrylics and charcoals, Carroll creates masterpieces that reflect the soul of Ireland, from its ancient Celtic days to its modern-day natural beauty. But while painting, Carroll doesn’t set out to do so.
“I’m not aware that something is Irish or something is not Irish,” he told IrishCentral.com from his Dublin studio.
Carroll, 64, was inspired to create art by his father, Michael, who was primarily a water colorist and portrait painter. “He was a gifted artist and mentor,” he said. “He always had a small sketchpad and pencil in his pocket. I learned so much from observing him at work.”
Ray Carroll sharpened his own skills at the National College of Art Dublin, and at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. He won the prestigious Purser Griffith Diploma for Art History, and has exhibited widely in Dublin, at the Guinness Hop Store Group Art Exhibitions, and at the Eigse Carlow Arts Festival.
But it was Michael Carroll who inspired him to capture the ancient Celtic spirit in his works.
“My father was interested in Celtic design, so I used to see his work,” he said. “I became interested in the prehistoric stone work. I’m simply intrigued by that. I find a huge emotional response in it. For me, it’s a potential and a challenge for presenting this.
“In the stuff that came off my easel, I didn’t actually plan it – it just seemed to come itself. And then I thought I must do this again. Before I realized it, I had done 15 of those [ancient Celtic] pieces.”
By presenting Ireland’s past in his work, Carroll aims to capture a period of enlightenment in his country’s history, Ireland’s “golden age.”
“I believe that there is a sort of glory in it. In the work that I’ve done you’ll see a lot of gold and gilt work, and that’s my suggestion of a golden age. Because in that time, culturally speaking, that was a golden age for Ireland.
“History teaches us there was a lot of interaction and travel and exchange between Ireland and Europe, especially France and Wales. That was the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. That’s essentially Welsh, but there are a lot of Irish references in that. There was a lot of interaction between those Irish and the continent, so they brought back a lot of ideas with them.”
Carroll’s most popular works, all of which are displayed on his Web site, www.arcpaintings.com, are the abstract Celtic mysticism pieces in “Room 1.”
“When I show the paintings from Room 1 to people, I’m aware of a sharp intake of breath, which I don’t hear for the other works. Because everyone’s used to landscapes. But that stuff, for some strange reason, seems to ring a bell in the minds of people.”
Carroll’s goal as an artist is to present “depths of meaning” to be explored by the viewer.
The fact that many of his works, particularly his abstract and Celtic paintings, stir emotion in people, is purely accidental.
“I have to admit I don’t consciously do that. I don’t mean to stir the heart strings,” he said. “It’s my own heart strings I mean to stir, to tell you to truth.”
Andrew Raymond "Ray" Carroll’s paintings can be viewed here. He accepts commissions to visit and capture on canvas or paper specific places, sites and scenes in Ireland that are of particular personal nostalgic value to those of Irish ancestry or connection.