Bog Heather in the Mist #303


Bog Heather in the Mist ©John O’Grady

8″ x 16″ x 1.75″ oil on canvas, ready to hang

$353 (approx. €317, £272) with free shipping.

It’s the time of year when bog heather covers the Wicklow mountains in a swathe of colour.

I travelled through these mountains most weeks, each season bringing out its own fabulous display, the bog’s rich deep browns mingled with the blond bog grasses swaying in the wind among the pink purple heather plants.

Once, I took a group of people to go and look at the heather on Sally Gap.

The day started off perfectly.

A bright blue sky accompanied us as we drove up the mountains but as we reached the broad open expanse of bogland, the mist closed in and the rain started lashing down.

An eerie atmosphere enclosed the van with headlights on full beam, I was driving at about 30 miles an hour on a winding small road that doesn’t allow two cars to pass.

I carried on for many miles like this. Then suddenly, the light found a way through a chink in the clouds and little by little, the clouds parted.

It was still raining but now, the sunshine was illuminating the distant hills and bringing hope for a better day.

One of my passengers, an insistent character, told me he had come to take photographs of the heather and asked me when was I going to stop.

I said it was still raining and he replied, ‘not much now’.

So I stopped and as if on cue, the rain almost did too.

I leaned across, opened the sliding door and the photographer started getting ready to immortalise the veils of mist and rain falling against the beautiful sunlit backdrop.

He sat on the edge of his seat and leaned out of the van positioning himself for the shot.

As he lifted the camera, a gust of wind along with a torrential horizontal rain blew straight in on top of the poor unfortunate.

Such are the trials and tribulations of a day out in the Wicklow mountains.

This painting is a memory of this experience with the elements.I’d love to read your comment.

The Coastal Road #302


The Coastal Road ©John O’Grady

7″ x 9″ x 0.75″ oil on canvas, ready to hang

$227 (approx €202, £171) with free shipping.

The Wild Atlantic Way is a road that hugs the west coast of Ireland stretching 1400 km from Donegal in the north west to Co Cork in the south.

The term ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ sounds like a bit of marketing and it is. It’s a recent innovation that aptly describes the landscape and seascape, in all its rugged and elemental splendour.

This painting brought up memories of a visit to Achill Island in Co Mayo where Paul Henry made many of his landscapes.

Immersed in the energy and vitality of the coast, you turn a bend or reach the top of a headland and there, in front of you, a new vista opens up, stunning, in turn revealing a calm sea sprinkled with silver lights and next an angry ocean swirling and crashing against the land.

It’s a dynamic place, surprising, spectacular.

On that day, rain clouds were rising over distant headlands like mighty sculptures dwarfing the land below.

While touring the island, the weather was fine to start with and fairly quickly turned from fine rain to mist to downpour and back to a bright autumnal day.

Each change was captivating.

This painting is my recollection of a moment during that visit. I also realised I am unconsciously exploring variations on a theme: I created a similar, albeit larger, painting last July called Spirit of Water III.

John O Grady Art-The Spirit-of-Water-III

In that post I mention how the painting might have been an antidote to last summer’s 40°C. At the moment, it’s in the mid 30s here so perhaps these things surface involuntarily.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the painting.

Night Sky over the Sugar Loaf #301


Night Sky over the Sugar Loaf ©John O’Grady

10″ x 10″ oil on panel, requires framing

$239 (approx £182, €214) with free shipping

The Sugar Loaf mountain is a landmark as you head south from Co Dublin into Co Wicklow. Although not great in height, once climbed it commands fabulous views across land and the Irish sea.

I have never climbed it at night but can imagine the open night sky away from light pollution.

This painting came to me during the week after seeing some photographs of swirling forms that had been cut into rocks close to the Sugar Loaf such as ones seen on Tibradden hill.


Source: Joe King

What lies behind these markings is still debated though many theories refer to a night sky.

When looking at these, I too see stars and the swirling life force emanating from the centre.

Thousands of years ago, on clear nights, local people must have climbed the Sugar Loaf to marvel and possibly make sense of their world.

These patterns also brought to mind one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, ‘Starry Night’.


I believe Van Gogh felt the same awe, the same energy for these swirling forms as those ancestors. I have.

This painting evokes that sense of wonderment felt across time and place when stargazing.

Do you feel it too?

You Are Everything IV #300

You Are Everything IV, ©John O’Grady
8″ x 11.75″ oil on panel, requires framing

$230 (approx €203, £176) with free shipping.

The bog is a wild and wondrous place. Solitary, it helps us connect the body to the elements.

The previous ‘You are Everything’ paintings were exploring our interconnectedness to the world around us. With this painting, it’s also about the turf beneath our feet that connects us to the past.

Seamus Heaney spoke of the bogland in his poems as a cultural repository. The accretions of turf, built layer upon layer over time preserves history in its dark mass.

This analogy could be applied to this blog, built one post at a time, a layer upon another layer of ideas, emotions and thoughts about painting. And how all the comments, thoughts and feelings you, who look at my work, have contributed make up that whole.

On this 300th painting, thank you for being part of this journey.

I will leave you with Seamus reading ‘Digging’. We are all digging in our own way for the ‘good turf’.

The Journey #299

The Journey, ©John O’Grady
8″ x 8″ X 0.75″ oil on canvas, ready to hang.


I watched the last light of day from my studio, the pale orange glow cast the distant hills in a blue/violet shadow.

The stage was set.

To the top left, out of the picture frame, the risen full moon’s silver light glowed. As if on cue, a family of five small clouds moved across the sky from right to left.

These five roundish forms gradually shifted shape and glowed pearl-like against the dark blue sky. They seemed to stay at the same distance from each other, as if it had been choreographed that way.

I was first drawn to making this piece by the light within the clouds and their nebulous quality.

But on reflection, it was also that fleeting moment seeing them trundling over the ruined castle and old town of Vaison when two of the family had already started to loose shape.

A wistful feeling came over me.

It got me to dream of possibilities and their flight, a family of clouds moving south to the Mediterranean and across the sea to distant lands, always journeying on and on, always together.

No lines on a map or fences to stop them getting to where they were safe, for the sky has no borders and the blue of the night is infinite.