Winter Blue – Time Lapse Painting

Winter Blue

Winter Blue

This is the source of the River Barrow, in the woods on the Sliabh Bloom Mountains, west of where I live. It flows north before turning east and then south, to enter the sea at Waterford. Its route takes it through my home town in Kildare. Here its a broad substantial river, onetime part of the western boundary of the English Pale.

This painting uses similar colours (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna & French Ultramarine Blue) to the previous painting. But the approach is different, right from the outset. In the previous painting the initial under layers were mixed with white to produce opaque light colours and the final colours, darker, were ‘drawn’ on top, similar to a watercolour painting. In the painting above, dark rich transparent colours were built up progressively and the lighter colours placed on top, as in the traditional oil painting method.

I didn’t completely abandon all the watercolour treatments. There are places where ‘washes’ of colour are allowing the canvas colour to shine through (the trees and shadows, lower left). This gives a vibrant, shimmering light and adds a sparkle to areas that tend to be dark and muddy. I also used a nylon watercolour brush to add details on the rivers edge and the smaller trees and branches.

The size is 16″ x 12″, using 3 colours plus white. Apart from the details, using the narrow nylon brush, the entire painting was completed with a single round No.: 12, bristle brush in 2 and a half hours. My colours ‘evolved’ from mix to mix, without cleaning the brush. As only the 3 mentioned colours were used there were none of the ‘muddy’ colours you get from too many incompatible colours mixing together. Obviously, there are never more than 3 in any mix, and even this is a rich range of greys varying with the proportions of the individual raw colours.

Here’s the video, see you soon.


Ardscull – Time Lapse Painting



Ardscull (Gaelic) means the ‘Hill of Shouts’. The moat rises to a height of 55 feet with a rampart at the top. Its a landmark visible from nearly every point on the flat planes of South Kildare. This was the site of a battle between the Leinstermen and the Munstermen during the reign of Felim Reachtmar, the ‘Law Maker’, king of Ireland from 111 a.d. to 119 a.d. The Moat itself is a 13th century Norman structure which was added to by the Fitzgeralds in the 15th century. In 1315 a.d. Robert Bruce defeated an army nearby, lead by Sir Edward Butler. Its amazing how well this earthwork has survived the last 700 years with the basic structure intact. One can almost hear the echoes of history reverberate down the centuries when standing on the ramparts of this ‘Hill of Shouts’.

This painting is verging on abstraction. The strong sunlight glistens on the tangle of tree trunks and branches. Its bleak and windswept, especially at this time of year.

A 3 colour painting again. The underpainting was unusual for an oil painting. It was lighter colours applied with loads of solvent which was allowed to evaporate before the darker shades were added. It was painted in 2 sessions. As so much solvent was used in the initial stages I had to wait 24 hours for the evaporation of the solvent. Remember I’m using Alkyd Oils, and were almost dry after the 24 hours. The fine lines were easier to apply on the ‘tacky’ under paint. The end result does not have the rich depth of colour of traditional oils. Its a watercolour effect which has a ‘bleached out’ look in oils.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Sliabh Bloom Woodland – Time Lapse Painting

Sliabh Bloom Woodland

Sliabh Bloom Woodland

This water logged landscape gives very little traction to the roots of heavy deciduous trees and they fall at the first spell of very wet and windy weather.

The tangle of dead branches and smooth water surface makes an interesting pattern and texture.

Three colours used again, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue plus white and no black. The technique is very liquid, something I haven’t done in a while. Dry brush work has a softness and does not express the detail found in a subject like this.

The painting has a ‘watercolour’ look and this is not surprising as the paint was very solvent rich and was flowing like watercolour. The initial colours were thin and wet and allowed to ‘dry’ with the help of a hair dryer. Onto this was drawn the darker trees and foliage – very much a ‘watercolour’ approach. Of course in the final stages the lightest colours were added in the normal oil painting way.

Here is the video, see you soon.

Frosty Morning – Oil Painting

Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

Early morning, before sunrise. A dull, eerie light filters into the woods. It is the colour of winter foliage and even the frost has a murky colour cast. The winter logging activity has left deep ruts in the roads, now flooded and frozen.

The scene was unusual and the treatment was very different from the standard oil painting method. Firstly, there are only 2 colours used, Olive Green and Indian Red. The lightest colours were applied first. A mix of the two colours was prepared and applied with solvent only to rough in the main elements. Pure white was then painted on top and brushed to start some of the background shapes. The distant trees were painted with a very solvent rich green/red without white. The solvent produced a mixing with the white under layers – giving an ‘atmospheric’ perspective. The closer the trees the less mixing, the deeper the colour. I used a fine brush to sketch in the details of trees and ground details.

The white, a lot was used, was an Alkyd fast drying paint. The other two paints were standard oils. Although this is a single layer painting and therefore should not cause problems with fast slow drying paints, the fast drying Alkyd paint was applied first with the standard oils placed on top.

The opposite of this, placing a fast drying paint over a slow drying layer could cause a problem as the fast drying layer could seal off the slow drying under layer which might never dry.

The painting is small, 12″ x 10″, and took about an hour and a half to complete. Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.

Spring Light, Dollardstown – Time Lapse Painting

Spring Light, Dollardstown

Spring Light, Dollardstown

Even at midday, with the sun shining brightly, the shadows were still covered in frost from the previous night. Last years growth of wetland rushes and grasses, now dry and brittle, were ablaze in light yet perfectly in harmony with the velvet green of ice covered fresh growth.

I used a colour, Olive Green, in combination with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue to produce this warmth of spring growth finally covering it with the frosty green of Ochre and Prussian. In oils, Olive Green is almost brownish in colour. A distinctive colour and because of this it had to be used in the sky mixes to knit the sky and foreground together.

The initial sketch of the mid and foreground were painted in raw colours with solvent only. This produced rich transparent colour which was not completely covered by final layers of paint. These patches of transparent colour have an inner glow and help to emphasise the opaque highlights of the direct sunlight.

I an now placing a small blob of Liquin on the palette, not in a dipper as before, almost as if it were a colour. It is viscous enough not to flow and stays put. I can control the quantity in various mixes by scooping a little, as required, and adding it to the appropriate mixes.

Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.

King’s River, Wicklow – Time Lapse Painting

King's River, Wicklow

King’s River, Wicklow

Spring is creeping into the landscape and the recent heavy rainfall has swollen the river. The erosion of the banks has lead to the collapse of this tree.

I was interested in the contrast between the apparent featureless grass field and the tangle of broken branches and roots of the fallen tree.

The entire painting was produced with only 2 brushes. A no. 8 filbert and a 00 nylon ‘rigger’. There are only 3 colours used (Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue) and the mixes evolved through a series of colours produced by varying the proportions of each constituent tube colour. The large brush was not ‘cleaned’ between the various mixes, the excess was just wiped from the brush on a tissue paper. The result is a harmony of colour as the entire painting is basically the same colour, with variations. The small brush is used to introduce details. This is similar to a watercolour technique as these details are painted with a very solvent rich liquid paint.

Its a different approach to what is normally employed by oil painters where a series of colours are mixed simultaneously and the different colours applied, usually by a different brush reserved for that colour.

Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.