Dollardstown Wood – Oil Painting

Dollardstown Wood

“The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable” is how Oscar Wilde described fox hunting. As a few small blobs of paint is how I described fox hunting in this painting. As usual I like to have the activities of men incidental in a landscape and not the subject of the painting. This is the entrance to the woods. A scene I’ve passed several times without noticing the unusual design of the old iron gate. Because the angle of the light was low, it was reflecting off the wet trackway. It looked as if the morning light was invading the woods and the dark places where night hides.

These woods were part of the Kilkea Estate, owned by the Fitzgeralds, who came to Ireland in 1169 ad. They were Earls of Kildare and in the 18th century the title ‘Dukes of Leinster’ was created and applied to the family. Less than a mile away, stands Kilkea Castle. This was the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland until recently. The current owners, who ran a hotel business in the castle, are bankrupt. So the castle is now unoccupied for the first time since 1180 ad, when it was built.

A limited number of colours used again. Indian Red & Raw Umber (red), Raw Sienna (yellow) and French Ultramarine (blue). Also black and white. ‘There is no light without darkness” certainly applies to this scene. Without a lot of bright colours I think I’ve succeeded in suggesting early morning brightness. It’s a difficult time of the day to paint. Like a sunset without the orange glow.

The video shows again how dark the entire painting must become before the light is introduced. It will look disastrous. But remember, it will be disastrous if you are trying to make the painting look ‘finished’ at every construction stage. It should only look good at the end. This is a problem if you allow onlookers to comment on your work as you are painting. They are commenting on how ‘unfinished’ it looks and can’t know the reason why you are painting everything dark or doing some other inexplicable process.

The video will be ready in a few days. The painting time was about 2 and a half hours and this requires a bit of time to get it ready. See you then.