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 live 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.

Replenishing the Well #210

I have not posted any paintings in the last couple of weeks: I was working on a commission for a series of 14 paintings for a gallery. Here are four of the pieces

After completing the commission, I felt a bit numb when facing a blank board.

I have talked before about having strategies to kick start or open up new possibilities of working but since I’ve been asked a few questions from viewers of my more recent video, I thought it timely to give some details about how I sometimes work.

The tile of small studies below are each 4.5″ square that might inform larger pieces but are essentially a way to free up.

They are a series of acrylic bleeds on 2 sheets of heavy watercolour paper, size A2, which I have then cut up into squares. Once they are cut up, I enjoy turning them upside down or 90 degrees left or right till I see a possible opening.

This seemingly haphazard way of working, apart from the regularity of cutting up the same size, is a great way to free myself up.

It is really important to have fun with paint and colour, to keep an open mind and a child-like attitude to play with no expectation nor structure.

Giving time to explore helps me replenish the well of creativity.

To see something from “nothing” is endlessly fascinating.

In the photo, the square studies have been jumbled and worked on with oil pastels and paints.
www.JohnOGradypaintings.com. Paintstudies

I have mentioned in a previous post how Da Vinci had a similar approach. He looked for imagined landscapes in the stains on walls.

Below, I’m looking for landscapes in the acrylic stain on board.
www.JohnOGradypaintings.com. Paintstain

The poured “crazed” part of the initial process is an acrylic fluid made by “Golden”, a leading brand of liquid acrylic paint. It’s an excellent product with a high pigment saturation.
www.JohnOGradypaintings.com. Goldenpaints

When working on this part of the painting I use all sorts of tools and implements. Straws, cotton buds, Sponges, rollers, paint knives, my nails and of course, rags.

First, I spray the board with a mix of water and acrylic flow extender to facilitate a watercolour-like bleed and encourage the colours to blend into one another.

Then, as you have probably noticed, I move the board around.

The action and flow of the paint can give me a glimpse of something. When that’s the case, I follow it to see where it takes me. An arrangement of colour or tone appears, often a vague outline that triggers a memory recall or something from my imagination.

What is real and what is imagined, I could not tell you.
www.JohnOGradypaintings.com. PaintingDemo

I leave the acrylic under-layer to dry for a day or two. The colour saturation gives depth and complexity to the finished pieces.

I then proceed to work in oils over the top, completely covering the board in either glazes or textured paint.

This way of working acts as a catalyst dredging emotions or feelings from the past of places seen or felt.

When I see and feel nothing at all, I wait a day or two and look at the paintings at different times of day. Often when I see things in the half light of morning or evening, I see an opening into the work.

This is just one way of refilling the well.

I would love to hear what you think.

A Murmur in the Trees IV #209

Murmur in the Trees. www.JohnOGradypaintings.com.
A Murmur in the Trees IV ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on Panel, 10″x 10″



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You can watch an edited video of me making the painting below which is the fourth in a series directly inspired by the magical poem by Emily Dickinson.

A Murmur in the Trees – to note

A Murmur in the Trees – to note –
Not loud enough – for Wind –
A Star – not far enough to seek –
Nor near enough – to find –

A long – long Yellow – on the Lawn –
A Hubbub – as of feet –
Not audible – as Ours – to Us –
But dapperer – More Sweet –

A Hurrying Home of little Men
To Houses unperceived –
All this – and more – if I should tell –
Would never be believed –

Of Robins in the Trundle bed
How many I espy
Whose Nightgowns could not hide the Wings –
Although I heard them try –

But then I promised ne’er to tell –
How could I break My Word?
So go your Way – and I’ll go Mine –
No fear you’ll miss the Road.

I would love to hear what you think.

Light on Water, Killiney Hill #208

Light on Water,Killiney Hill. www.JohnOGradypaintings.com.

Light on Water, Killiney Hill ©John O’Grady 2014
Oil on Panel, 16″x 12″




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This painting is a bit more specific in terms of place and didn’t arise from imagination or through the process of painting.

It was a commission I finished last week. So I used photo references to capture the topography of the land.

Although the sea and sky were painted from memory, the ever shifting light falling upon the water over Killiney bay once seen is never forgotten.

The client was unable to buy it so I thought it would be interesting to show you the kind of commission work I can create.

This view is from Killiney Hill in South County Dublin, looking towards Dalkey Island.

I’d love to hear what you think.