The Edge of the Deep Green Sea II #268

John O Grady Art-The-Edge-of-the-Deep-Green-Sea-II
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The Edge of the Deep Green Sea II, ©John O’Grady
Oil on deep edged canvas, 12″ x 12″ x 1.75″
It does not require framing and is ready to hang.

$397 approx £253 (Free Shipping worldwide)

Many painters work on a particular project by creating several pieces around a theme or interest until they have exhausted it. Then, they wait for ideas to percolate until the next project grabs them and is seen through to completion.

With the way I work, having no pre-ordained or fixed idea of where a piece may go or even how it might start, even though it always comes out as nature based, certain themes, often based around colour, re-emerge after long intervals.

With this painting, I had no idea of what I was going to paint. after a long struggle, a finished painting emerged but, as often happens, the following day I came back and it felt flat. There was no emotional connection.

When this happens, it calls for bold action to let something break the deadlock.

More often than not, it’s done through colour I respond to and that helps me find a foothold again in the painting.

Here, I found the most beautiful combination of lemon yellow, Windsor green and manganese blue. This triumvirate of colours once laid down in different combinations led me to the finished piece you now see.

Funnily, it’s only when the painting was finished and I came to write this post that I found a close connection to a piece made nearly two years ago.

I have noticed this cyclical re emergence of a particular palette or theme after months or even years on quite a few occasions.

In the older blog post, the last paragraph rang a chord with my preoccupations with the present painting and in particular my comment about Whistler’s work:

“The works that stand out for me are the land/seascapes called Nocturnes. The close tonal arrangement in a dominant colour with diffused shapes pervading the work make these paintings truly innovative and verging on the abstract.”

And Whistler when talking about the artist choosing and picking says:

“Nature contains the elements, in colour and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick and choose… that the result may be beautiful – as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he brings forth from chaos glorious harmony…” (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

So what conclusions can we draw from this response to colour that can give a painting momentum? Or is it best not to think too much and just do?

Here are a couple of thoughts:
Painting including landscape painting should be fuelled by emotions and feelings for any success to occur. This doesn’t mean the painting needs to be expressive and full of movement. Often, quiet understated pieces are fit to explode with emotional energy such as for example Giorgio Morandi’s Still Lifes.

In my case, I somehow connect a particular atmosphere and light that has been filtered through memory and imagination. I feel that particular recollection and almost involuntarily search for a colour that fits that feeling or emotion. It is not at all a conscious response but like tapping into a source.

In painting, colour is light and colour is emotion.

Have you experienced an emotional response to a particular shade or colour in a painting?

La Route du Ventoux #267

John O Grady Art-La-Route-du-Ventoux
La Route du Mt Ventoux
Oil on deep edged beech Panel 12″ x 6″ x 1.5″
Does not require framing.

$247 approx £158 free shipping worldwide.

I recently took a trip along what is called the ‘Route des Lavandes’ before the lavender was harvested to be distilled.

it’s a big focus of summer in this part of Provence.

When driving with the windows open, you can get a hint of its fragrance, and when standing next to a field the perfume is captivating while the sound of bees fills the air.

A typical scene when looking at the Mont Ventoux on a hot day is to see a cloud perched on top of the mountain, balanced gracefully on the telecommunication mast. In the distance, when the Mistral is not blowing, the light can become hazy and the mountains take on a bluish green tinge.

Along the side of the roads, the golden white grasses bleached by the sun sway in the breeze. They contrast beautifully against the deep blue violet of the lavender fields.

This was the light and atmosphere I wanted to capture in this piece.

The rhythm of life here is deeply connected to the seasons and has an impact on how I see. As a season ends, another is about to start: figs are slowly getting ripe on trees and in September, it’s time for the grape harvest, the dark, sweet aromatic muscat to taste and most of the other grapes to make wine. The atmosphere and mood will be different as the vines change to a deep red brick colour …

On the Banks of the Ouvèze River #266

John O Grady Art-On-the-Banks-of-the-L'Ouveze

On the Banks of the Ouvèze River
Oil on 5 mm Panel 14.75″ x 11″
Requires framing


At the moment, the Ouvèze river that runs through Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence is all but a trickle. The high temperatures reaching 40 degrees centigrades of the last few weeks have dried out all the vegetation along its banks.

In spring, it’s a different place, the river banks are lush with vegetation, a blend of trees and bushes and, here and there, and wildflowers peeking through. The atmosphere is full of rich and heady aromas.

It’s a real delight to walk under the canopy of trees next to the cool air of the river when the temperature is still pleasant.

In the painting I wanted to capture the light dancing through the trees and reflecting on the water and around the piece. It is late afternoon, the light suffused through the foliage has turned a pale yellow colour to give an overall glow of golden light to the painting

I would love to hear what you think.

The Spirit of Water IV #265

John O Grady Art-The Spirit-of-Water-IV
The Spirit of Water IV, ©John O’Grady 2015
Oil on deep edged canvas, 12″ x 12″ x 1.75″
It does not require framing and is ready to hang.

$397 approx £253 Free shipping.

This is the fourth in this series of paintings that explores the merging and blending of atmospheres, matter and void and light and dark.

Making these energetic pieces offers me the opportunity to try out different mark making trying to capture and convey what is solid and immaterial and the friction and pull-push between the two when the weather is tempestuous.

For the denseness of rocks, I first built up texture and then, with different tools such as sandpaper, a decorator’s paint scraper and the sharp edge of a palette knife, I scrapped, scratched and gouged back through dried paint to reveal the coloured layers below.

To create lots of energy from bottom right to top left, from water to clouds, I chose a rubber print roller to apply thin blended paint in a diagonal movement.

I painted the delicate spume effect with a palette knife and then, with a small stencil brush loaded with paint, flicked across the surface. The palette knife built a flat layer of colour while the physicality of flicking on top of it helps transmit the elemental energy of nature.

When I am painting these pieces, it is as if I am right there in the painting reliving the experience of being next to the water’s edge on a wild day. Can you relive that experience too?

I’d love to hear what you think.

The Gorse Bush on Killiney Hill #265

John O Grady Art-The-Gorse-Bush-Killiney-Hill
The Gorse Bush on Killiney Hill, ©John O’Grady 2015
Acrylic on deep edged beech panel, 15.8″ x 11.8″ x 1.50″
It does not require framing and is ready to hang.

$513 (approx £330) with free shipping.

Gorse bushes are a familiar sight in Ireland, often found by the coast along headlands. Their vibrant cadmium yellow flowers contrast beautifully with a lead coloured sky while they fill the air with a coconut-like fragrance you notice as you walk past.

I started this painting by staining the panel with a pink and blue/green underpainting, a bit like a watercolour wash to free myself up and stop myself from becoming too precious about the process.

It can be liberating but it can also be a case of crash and burn. That’s part of the excitement.

The shapes formed in the wash when I turned the board upright reminded me of the shape of Killiney Hill in south county Dublin. The gorse-covered hillside overlooks the Irish sea and the Bay of Killiney. On a fine day, the yellow flowers and deep green/brown wood of the bush create a beautiful foreground to the blue of the sea.

To give you an idea of the place, below is a painting of Killiney Hill looking to Dalkey Island.

John O Grady Art-Killiney Hill

Today’s painting is more expressive with looser mark-making and colours bleeding into each other. At the bottom of the piece, I scratched and sanded back some of the surface to reveal the blue and green underpainting that add a bit more depth.

I would love to here what you think.