Abandoned House – Time Lapse Painting

Abandoned House

Picasso said “I don’t paint what I see, I paint what I imagine”, or something along those lines. When you see his work, it does explain what he was at. I have to say I would also work from imagination, based on something I saw, or a thought, or idea on some subject or other. The real world never quite measures up to what is required to produce an interesting painting. Every artist has their own working method and part of my method is my concern about overworking, which I’m prone to. The finished painting always seems to have something unfinished. But the surprising thing is, on the following day, everything looks OK. So the advice is, set limits to your painting session. It can be time limits, area to be covered (eg. the sky), etc, then stop, and assess the work the following day.

Another area of overworking is in the planning of the painting. I find thumbnail sketches are the best for my method and I have included a few photos of what I mean. These sketches are so small (the full pages are A4 size) I can’t get involved with details. The details are added, or not added, during the painting process. The plan never seems to work out the way I intended, so the plan is continually adjusted based on what is already done. In the sketches above, you will see the plans for some of the recent paintings I’ve posted here. The single sketch above (about 2″x3″) is for the next painting, just completed, which I will post next time. It contains some of the elements (birds and scarecrow) I was going to include in Abandoned House, but the plan changed.

Here’s the video. For more on materials, etc. check previous post.


Abandoned House – Oil Painting

Abandoned House

The house may be abandoned, but it takes a long time for the spirits of those who lived there to completely evaporate. The theme of abandoned house is appropriate for this time of year, for a few different reasons. Emigration is once again a feature of Irish life and this scene is set to be repeated all over the country. After Christmas, families at home for the season, will breakup, many returning to the far corners of the world (such a rich country, such poor management). Christmas also reminds us of those, who were with us at this season in the past, and are no longer here.

Nothing different in the method I employed in this painting from previous oil paintings. When you watch the video (next post) you will notice how dark the overall painting becomes before the light is introduced. In this painting its very obvious as the entire foreground is featureless and has to be made interesting. I avoided the usual placing of a foreground ‘object of interest’ on the one third line which is the usual practice for producing a ‘pleasing’ composition. At the construction stage I drew in the lines of perspective and also the lines the eye follows (subconsciously) on its journey into the painting. This produces a framework on which I can create an interesting empty space. Its a common mistake to move into the light colour phase too early on, also, less is better than too much. Its good to progress slowly adding the lights. Stop after every few strokes of the brush and assess the situation. Look at the painting upside-down, in a mirror, from the next room. Anywhere, to get a fresh view. The lines of perspective are a great help in reminding you to enlarge shapes (and brushstrokes) as they approach the viewer.

The colours are: Indian Red, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, Chrome Green Light, Raw Umber and black and white. A little bit more difficult to keep colour mixes clean with this selection. Indian Red, does not produce great vibrant colours in mixes, as mentioned in a previous post. The addition of white to any mix containing Indian Red produces a lifeless ‘smokey’ colour.

Liquin was the medium used, and used very sparingly. This means the painting will take ages to dry and will have lots of dull patches. As mentioned previously, I now always ‘oil out’ with pure Linseed Oil (50/50 with White Spirits) in case I decide to varnish and not frame under glass.

And now a poem to complete the picture.


Seduced by shelter and a door half closed
I press in. The rain subsides.
But I wait, a traveller at a terminal
long after all had gone and nothing of value
remains on the littered floor.

An open razor here.
Like the one my father used
in a time before he had fallen
in love with sadness,
is where it had fallen.

The leaves cascade.
A gentle hush, as a finger to the lips,
then talk of rain in the hills
and sun in the west.
Leaving, I close the door.

Enjoy the remainder of the holidays.

Mortality, a life threatening condition.


I posted this earlier in the year and didn’t tag the post, so it remained buried in the archives since then. I’m reposting as a response to ‘Versatility’ anxiety (see here and here).

The sweltering heat at hand
and along a stretch of beach
made hard the shadows
and the imperfections on her skin,
footprints on sand,
far from its reach
and its bathwater flows
erasing all but Adam’s sin
lapping at the edge of land.

The above picture is a combination of photography and digital painting. The text is part of the picture and I have included it in the event you cannot read it in the picture.
Its a comment on modern society. Especially the obsession with physical appearance which we see everywhere today. Films, TV, advertising, its everywhere. The human form is presented, flawless as a classical statue. The feeling of being physically inadequate must haunt the susceptible. Especially the young.
Even though we know that photographs can be ‘Photoshopped’ we subconsciously accept the image as real. I think this media was appropriate for this ‘painting’.

The elements in the picture are:
the beach – where the D-Day scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan was shot (Curracloe, Co. Wexford, Ireland)
the statue – Venus de Milo, even she suffered from the ravages of time
the beach litter – Leonardo’s da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture (Wikipedia).

The computer application used was Photoshop, appropriately.



Its a long time since I posted a digital painting. So here is my illustrated poem about the dawn of the day, the dawn of the year and the dawn of Christianity. I’m not a very religious person, but it is Christmas time.

The sketch was drawn with a Biro, photographed, and opened in Photoshop. By changing the picture mode from Greyscale to Bitmap the lines were made rough at the edges and the shades of grey were converted to black or white. I then brought the mode back to Greyscale as this allows more scope in manipulating the picture. The text was typed into a separate layer in white and the background layer painted black to show the white text. I did the painting, etc. using the scratch pad on my laptop. A graphics pad would have been a lot easier, if I could remember where I put the pen.

In a way I was shamed into doing something different as I was nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award. But I’m addicted to landscape painting and I will need a ‘fix’ soon, although it will be hard to detach myself from the Christmas activities of the coming week. If I’m not back before then, happy Christmas to all who read this and see you when the Sun/Son returns.

The Versatile Blogger

Thank you Elenacaravela for nominating me for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award. I was hoping, when I started this blog, to be more versatile than I actually am. Its all a question of time, or the lack of it. I’ve linked the production of paintings with the production of the posts for the blog. How long I can keep this up I don’t know. In actual fact, I spend more time  on the blog than I do on the paintings. Sometimes I don’t get round to answering the encouraging comments you’ve made (apologies).

The long and the short of it is, I really don’t have time to do a good job, especially deciding 15 blogs deserving of the award. But I would like to say a little about the blogger who nominated me. Most of her posts are short, sometimes just a photo of her very interesting art, but this one I really liked. Oil Painting Tutorial is a post almost in the form of a personal instruction on the production of an absolutely brilliant portrait. I found it most informative and helpful and I really appreciate the amount of effort it took to produce this wonderful post.

Thank you again Elenacaravela.

Morning at the Crossroads -Time Lapse Painting

Morning at the Crossroads

Although the method of painting was the same the different range of colours gave a flavour to this painting which was different from recent paintings. The Indian Red was the main contributor to this change. This colour is very intense when used neat, but dies with even the minutest of additions of any colour. If you are interested in clean colour, and I am, using a colour like Indian Red puts an extra stress on the painting process. By the addition of the 3rd colour to the mix the colour is in the grey range, and a dull grey at that.

Portrait by Artboy68

Before I get to the video, I have to mention the 100 Portraits in 20 Weeks project by Artboy68. I received my original portrait (No. 18) in the post today and its great. I’m a firm believer that art today is a sharing process and this is a very practical way of sharing art. The way the world works and therefore art works has changed, thanks to new technology. A big thanks to Artboy68 for the portrait.

Morning at the Crossroads – Oil Painting

Morning at the Crossroads

A place connected to everywhere and from where any destination could be accessed, the crossroads would have been a landmark in rural Ireland. Older country people will tell you of the Summertime dances and parties at the crossroads that would last till daybreak. But this is not a Summertime scene. Its the approach of the Winter Solstice. Its daylight, long before the sun rises and only the high clouds are lit by the sun, reflecting a golden glow. Its the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
There is an underlying theme of crossing boundaries in this painting. This scene is based on the crossroads just over the hill from where I live. The little river is a Diocesan boundary (see this post) established exactly 900 years ago this year, but probably based on an even older boundary. I ‘fudged’ the sky/earth boundary on the horizon in keeping with the time of year and this time of day – the long grey wait before the coming of the sun. For many people the beginning of a new year is like a crossroads. Its a time to consider changing direction and resolving to stay on the new path. Irish folklore has many stories concerning crossroads. There is a tradition that if a hen crowed like a cockerel it would be caught, brought to the crossroads to be released unharmed. Like many such practises, you can only guess at the reason for this.

There is a complete change in the colours this time. Indian Red, Raw Sienna, Prussian Blue and black and white. Again just 3 colours to ensure clean mixes. Indian red is ‘rust’ colour and produces very dark purple mixes with Prussian Blue. In many mixes it can produce a ‘dirty’ colour, like that ‘mucky’ brown mixture that always seems to be on the palette when you finish a painting. But with Prussian Blue and Raw Sienna its OK. The purple, when mixed with the blue, is not reproduced well in the photograph or the video. It appears as black, as in the line of trees going over the hill on the left in the distance. This is a photographic limitation that does not do justice to the painting.

You might think there is a lot of work in background areas which are covered up in later stages of painting. I like to think of this as keeping the options open. As a painting develops, it may be necessary to leave something out which you planned to include. Trying to fill a gap at the later stages of a painting is a lot more difficult than putting it in to start with.

I will have the video ready for posting in a few days.

YouTube and Safari browsers

There seems to be a problem with YouTube videos playing on the Safari (Apple) browsers since YouTube changed their website. Embedded videos on WordPress pages are also affected. An alternative browser, called Firefox, can be used on Apple machines. Its free to download and works like Safari.

Wolfhill – Time Lapse Painting


Just a few interesting points about about this landscape painting:

Perspective applies in the sky as well as on the ground. Clouds are not all the same size or shape but they generally get smaller as they approach the horizon, ie further away. The colours also tend towards grey with distance.
Perspective warps when the ground is not flat, unlike the sky which is always flat and obeys the rules of convergence (getting smaller at a regular pace). I tend to think in terms of a flat grid and place the hills and hollows onto this. Its easy to observe in a scene and draw it as you see it but as most of my landscapes are ‘created’ or constructed I have to have the grid in my mind and work on this. This is something I’ve learned with practice and I remember a time not been able to do this. So every painting is a learning experience, the more you do, the better you get.

Painting details with a small brush can be a tedious business. In this painting, the line of small trees and bushes required the small brush treatment onto a wet background. Normally this means cleaning the brush after every stroke, reloading the brush and painting again until the paint on the brush is exhausted or contaminated. In this instance I placed ‘reservoirs’ of paint in the lower areas of the hedgerow and dragged these upwards to form the small trees. If these ‘reservoirs’ become contaminated with the sky colour, that’s OK, as it adds a little detail into an otherwise dark patch of colour.

The rule of painting from the distance towards the viewer is a good one to follow. The background should slightly overlap objects in front and when these are painted you can then regain the shape of the object. The distant hills are painted over the lower reaches of the sky which was dragged down into this area. An exception to this rule concerns bright areas behind, for example, the trees on the right in this painting. Spots of light, the reflected light, placed in the gaps in the trees have a ‘halo’ effect, something you see in nature.

Remember, to achieve clean colour, keep the number of colours in your mixes to a minimum. The best way of achieving this is to use a limited number of colours to start with. The details of the colours are in the previous post. There were only 4 plus black and white.

Here’s the video.

Wolfhill – Oil Painting


The last wolf observed and killed in Ireland was in 1786 in County Carlow, which borders Wolfhill in County Laois. This is a wild and rugged area and probably gave good cover for the unfortunate wolves. It is likely the area was named Wolfhill because of the resident wolves in former times. It’s sparsely populated now but during the industrial revolution, coal was mined  here for export to the UK and there was a thriving community of miners living in the area. When the industry first started in the 18th century, miners from England and Wales were settled here to supply the mining expertise. There was even a rail line built, now disused, to accommodate the removal of the coal. The slack heaps from the mines are still to be found and usually there are mine shafts close by. Dangerous places to be rambling about.

The scene is not a particular place but a combination of memories jumbled together to recreate the flavour of the landscape. Most of the landscapes I’ve painted over the last few months are composed this way. Nature is rarely accommodating in producing a scene which is just copied as is. If it was, I would be redundant as a painter and have a load of very interesting photographs to show you.

The colours used in this painting were: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, French Ultramarine and Cerulean Blues and black and white. French Ultramarine this time to give a winter coldness to the scene. I paid a lot attention to the foreground and tried to suggest as much detail and colour to an otherwise empty area of canvas. When the composition does not have a foreground interest to frame the scene and give it depth you have to create some interest. Not too much to take attention away from the overall scene but enough to lead the viewer into the scene to explore the landscape (watch out for those mine shafts). The underpainting of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna was not completely covered with the later layers of rough grass colour (Cerulean Blue and Yellow Ochre) and in some instances the still wet underpainting mixed with the green to produce even more interesting colours.

I will have a video of the painting process in a few days, so call back and check it out.