First Light, Wicklow #215

First-Light-Wicklow-JohnOGrady-www.johnogradypaintings.com

First Light Wicklow, ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on deep edged beech panel, 15 cm x 15 cm x 3.6 cm deep (approx. 6″x6″x1.5″, no need to frame and ready to hang)



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There are days when the slatey grey and purple clouds are so low it feels as if they are touching the top of your head.

On days like this, you awake to the rain and no wind. The rain is soft and fine and, unrelenting in its fall to Earth, will soak through your clothes.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, for even clouds like these have a silver lining. The atmosphere is particular, it has an intimacy similar to a day with snow. The sounds of the world are a little bit muffled, people have to put their lights on in the house at midday and traffic slowly streams through the darkened land with their headlights on.

The day light can’t penetrate the dense blanket of cloud that shrouds the land. It has to find a way in, somewhere, from the side, squeezing in between land and sky. And then, you experience its magic and beauty when its low angle rakes across the land bathing each and every object it comes across.

Here is a poem by Winifred M. Letts (1882-1972) that conveys the feeling

A Soft Day.

A soft day, thank God!
A wind from the south
With a honey’d mouth;
A scent of drenching leaves,
Briar and beech and lime,
White elderflower and thyme,
And the soaking grass smells sweet,
Crushed by my two bare feet,
While the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the eaves.

A soft day, thank God!
The hills wear a shroud
Of silver cloud;
The web the spider weaves
Is a glittering net;
The woodland path is wet,
And the soaking earth smells sweet
Under my two bare feet,
And the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the leaves.

Have you experienced soft rain?

Only Forty Shades of Green? #214

The-Glowing-Bog-John-OGrady-www.johnogradypaintings.com

The Glowing Bog, ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on deep edged beech panel, 15 cm x 15 cm x 3.6 cm deep (approx. 6″x6″x1.5″, no need to frame and ready to hang)



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If you’ve been following my work for some time, you know I’m fond of grasses and bogland.

In this painting, I sought to show the peace and solitude of the bog but also the changing colours late summer and the beginning of the new season bring.

When you first encounter a vast expanse of bog, you often see a flat blanket of a unified colour that can seem bland and yet like with so many things, when you take some time, your senses attune to the place. It’s as if you are let into a special world where the wind whistles amongst the grasses and what first appeared as a spray of one colour turns out to reveal different shades of golden brown, orange and purple.

I took a picture of ‘The glowing Bog’ with two others paintings of Ireland, with different colours and atmospheres, filtered as I mentioned before through distance, memory and imagination of places I have seen and been moved by.

The-Glowing-Bog-John-OGrady-www.johnogradypaintings.com

We often hear about the greens of Ireland and how varied, rich and subtle they are but there are many other colours and landscapes that feed a painter’s imagination.

When placing this set of three paintings next to each other, you can see the colours of an evening sky on fire, the subtle greens and greys of the morning light and the glowing bog grasses catching the evening light all working together.

It might be said that the colours used in these paintings are not representational and I wouldn’t disagree with that, rather, they are my way of expressing the feeling I have about a place, real or imagined.

The success of a piece is not about how much the painting looks like a place but how deep I have dredged up those feelings through the act of painting.

Cloudscape over Howth #213

Cloudscape over Howth-John O'Grady- www.JohnOGradypaintings.com.
Cloudscape over Howth, ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on deep edged beech panel, 15 cm x 15 cm x 3.6 cm deep (approx. 6″x6″x1.5″)

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Most of the time I paint on a slim, relatively smooth panel without give. It suits the way I work.

These past few days, I’ve been painting on these excellent beech panels of archival quality. They have 1.5” deep wooden sides I have painted white after finishing the painting.

They don’t need framing.

They would look great displayed on any wall.

Cloudscape-Howth-back-view

Cloudscape-Howth-side-view

This piece is a view looking across Dublin bay to Howth Head. While writing this post, I remembered painting two years ago this month ‘View across the Bay’ which starts from a similar stand point but looks towards the Pigeon House in Dublin. Two years on, I seem to have the same fascination with pink clouds.

The older painting is quieter while this one is freer and more expressive. It captures the movement of clouds more successfully and strikes a nice balance between elements of representation and abstraction.

I would love to hear what you think.

City of Tiny Lights II #212

City of Tiny Lights II - John O'Grady - www.JohnOGradypaintings.com.

City of Tiny Lights II, ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on deep edged Canvas, 20″x 20″ x 1&3/4″ deep.



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My paintings seem to be taking a little memory road trip around South County Dublin and Co Wicklow at the moment. This road is the main artery out of Dublin city and can lead to Glendalough, the destination of my previous painting.

As shown in the series “Take me to the Island”, I am drawn to solitary viewpoints on the edge of something, looking out across the sea to an island or looking at the city from a place of silence, wondering what lives people lead there…

Of course a city has a different feel to an Island but to look at a city at night, the glow of the lights suggests the magical, the mysterious and the beguiling. It’s poetry. Emotions, experiences, life and death are all played out in all their richness in a city.

I really enjoy painting the slither of time between light and dark, when the world takes on a particular atmosphere. I like the expression the French use ‘entre chien and loup‘, a time when we don’t know for definite what’s what and yet twilight is the time when the lights come on increasingly glowing as the darkness encroaches.

This is painted on canvas on deep sided stretchers. The sides of the canvas are painted white.

I have not painted on canvas for a while and enjoyed the change. When using different materials you always wonder how it’s going to behave. In this case, the weave picked up the paint well especially when capturing the lights of the city.

The deep sided stretchers means that this painting doesn’t need to be framed and is ready to hang.

I would love to hear what you think.

Twilight Glendalough #211

Twilight Glendalough. www.JohnOGradypaintings.com.

Twilight Glendalough, ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on Panel, 12″x 12″




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As the last rays of the day set the sky on fire over the Upper Lake, perhaps I am feeling a gentle shift in the seasons as this piece has an autumnal or even wintery atmosphere as the days begin to close in.

I think the painting reflects this. It has a darker, brooding feel when compared with the previous Glendalough painting.

Today, I chose to paint the clouds a highly saturated rose colour set against a muted aubergine colour of the mountains and water to arrive at a pictorial balance.

I would love to hear what you think.