Evening glow, Wicklow hills

Evening glow, Wicklow hills

After ‘oiling out’ the previous work, the lost details in the shadows emerged. The painting was now a little dark and the highlights lacking sufficient ‘glow’ to justify the title. For the next stage I employed a technique called ‘glazing’. This is applying a flat layer of transparent paint over the underpainting. The mix I used was Burnt Umber and Chrome Green Light. Although the Burnt Umber is transparent the green was less so. The traditional approach is to use dark colours and allow the lighter dry underpainting to shine through. So in actual fact I was glazing and applying opaque lighter colours depending on what part of the scene I was working on. The 2 colours were not homogeneously mixed but sat side by side on the palette. Using the one large brush I picked up the Burnt Umber and added the green in varying amounts, mixing with the brush. The dark transparent colour does not have to be applied with precision on the highlights alone. The dark colour does allow the highlights shine through but any darker under-colour in the areas around the highlights are relatively unaffected.

The composition is a little odd. The normal approach is to place the focus of the scene ‘off-centre’ usually one third of the width of the picture from the edge. The rest of the composition then balances the scene. This composition is on a ‘knife edge’. Its like an unobliging real scene. If the picture was cut down the centre both halves would conform to the traditional rules of balance. You can decide to go past the man and his dog to the farmers discussing their livestock on the hill or move upstream to the cottages nestling in the trees. And yet its the same scene.

This world is imaginary. One bit prompted the next and so it grew. But the landscape must be credible and real enough to engage the viewer. It should have a familiarity, like a folk memory. I like creating these scenes – pure escapism.