Vincent Crotty is an Irish-born artist who has been living in Boston since 1990. Regarded for his original landscapes, interiors, and figurative paintings, Vincent works from inspiration and intuition. His paintings reveal a remarkable understanding of light — transforming everyday subject matter into images that are memorable and moving.
Painting from life as often as he can, Vincent’s plein air approach creates a feeling of spontaneity and ease in his work. With a style that is loose and fresh, cheerful and evocative, he expresses a highly individual vision in contemporary representational painting.
Vincent explores the places and faces of both Atlantic coasts as his primary subject matter. With fluid and confident brushstrokes, balanced by sensitive color, his paintings convey vivid moods and characters, and depict an immediate sense of time and place. Inspired by the 20th Century Ashcan School, his paintings of Boston and New England celebrate the gritty corners of urban American life. In Ireland, he captures the silvery gleam of wet galvanized roofs, and bursts of winter sunshine illuminating a wild landscape.
Vincent’s work has been recognized with awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the John Stobart Foundation in Boston, and plein air competitions internationally. He has exhibited his work in galleries in Ireland and throughout the US for three decades, and has presented workshops in Ireland, Nova Scotia, Colorado, Wyoming, New York, and throughout New England. His paintings been commissioned by the Boston College Burns Library, the Irish Cultural Center of New England, the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural Centre in New York, and other organizations and private collections.
Vincent was born and raised in Kanturk, County Cork, a small town in dairy farming country in southwest Ireland. “One of my earliest memories, long before I could talk,” Vincent recalls, “is of sitting in a pram (baby stroller) and watching the sunshine make patterns of light on the kitchen wall. I was mesmerized. I have always been sensitive to light and color.”
Vincent began painting at age seven, inspired by his mother’s interest in art and the beauty of his natural surroundings. After secondary school, he spent five years working in a factory, during the bleak economic conditions of Ireland in the 1980s.
Vincent then turned to painting at age 22 with a fierce commitment, as he says, “to make my living — one way or another — with paint.” Leaving his factory job, he studied sign painting and interior decorating at Fás, a trade school in Cork City, Ireland. This training, under instructors Noel McKenna and Gerry Fitzgibbon, gave him an understanding of paint chemistry and the fundamentals of drawing. In addition to Fás, he sought out one-on-one study with the well-known West Cork sign painter Tomás Tuipéir. From these experiences, he mastered the old-world skill of painting free-hand letters, Celtic designs, and evocative pictorial signs.
Vincent explains, “My background in trade school has given me a hands-on approach rather than a cerebral one. Being self-employed has forced me to follow my here-and-now instincts as an artist. I take a fearless approach and slap on paint liberally. I harness happy accidents.”
In 1990, with an enormous appetite for learning, Vincent immigrated to Boston to seek out further art training. In the Boston area, he studied painting intensively with artist John Kilroy for many years, and later trained in figure drawing with Paul Rahilly at Massachusetts College of Art. He attended the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona, studying with Mark Daily and David Leffel. He has taken workshops with T. Allen Lawson, Kevin MacPherson, Matt Smith, and John Stobart, and he continues to travel widely to pursue workshops and plein air painting events.
In addition to his gallery shows, Vincent’s paintings have been featured as set designs for theater companies and touring productions including Atlantic Steps, the Cork City Ballet, the Huntington Theater Company, Kieran Jordan Dancers, and the WGBH Celtic Sojourn productions. Four of his paintings were used on the film set in the 2003 Clint Eastwood movie Mystic River.
Vincent is also well-known for his paintings of Irish traditional musicians. He has painted commissioned portraits of beloved musicians Felix Dolan, Joe Madden, and Larry Reynolds, and has created CD covers for Irish music artists including Joey Abarta, Tim Browne, Bridget Fitzgerald, Sean Keane, Ben Power, and the group Childsplay. His large-scale Irish set dancing mural called “Side Couples Swing” hangs behind the bar in the Irish Cultural Centre of New England.
Vincent lives with his wife, dancer Kieran Jordan, in Dorchester.