King’s River – Oil Painting

King’s River

County Wicklow is a few miles east of where I live. Its a mountainous county, a change from flat Kildare. I followed the King’s River for a few hours as I intend to do a few paintings of this area. The weather was dry, for a change, and there was even some sunshine. Could this be summer at last. A notable feature of this landscape are the granite boulders. The exposed rock is weathered into rounded shapes, and left exposed after the river floods in winter. This scene in reality is rather shapeless. Early on in the planning, the idea of a ‘X’ shape started to emerge. Its an abstract concept as this shape (X) is 2 dimensional feature lying flat on the surface of a 3 dimensional landscape. It reminds me that all realist painting is essentially abstract. Daubs of pigment on a flat surface to create a veneer of familiarity to lure the viewer into this world. This ‘veneer of familiarity’ is the most difficult part to keep on track. I constantly drift into painting what I know is there, as opposed to painting what we ‘see’. They are not the same thing. A limited palette doesn’t help in painting what we see, but it does help in ensuring that the painting does not become overly ‘photographic’.

This is another large(ish) painting for me. I decided on a 2 session strategy. Firstly the foreground was under-painted with a 5% Liquin in White Spirits medium. The technique was similar to watercolours with loads of solvent to carry the pigment all over the place. When this had evaporated I painted the sky to completion and left the painting to dry for 2 days. Then I finished the ‘ground’ part after wetting the surface with the above medium. This was necessary as the dark colours had become matt, lightening in tone as a result.

The colours were limited to just 4 again, Burnt Sienna (red), Cadmium Yellow (yellow) and Cobalt Blue (blue). Also in there was Viridian Green. Apart from the foliage, I wanted the Viridian for the sky blue mix, as it produces a lovely evening blue in the sky.

As usual I videoed the process and will post in a few days. See you then.