Variability in our weather, here in Ireland, is probably responsible for the unique appearance of our landscape. A week or two ago we had minus degrees Celsius and snow-like frost plus a North wind, to chill us even further. Last week the temperature was a muggy 15 Celsius. This is a Summertime temperature! But not unusual for Ireland.

This changeability of temperature, in the 0 to 4 degrees range, is responsible for intense weathering. Many years ago I worked as a science technician responsible for recording the effects of this weathering on building products. The most severe damage is caused by a ‘freeze thaw’ cycle. Our colleagues in Scandinavia thought they had it bad with a few dozen cycles per year. We were counting 200-400 per winter in the early 1980’s. Nothing lasts for very long when exposed to this for a few years, and it shows in the landscape.

Ironically, within this landscape there are places, like boglands (Winter Bogland), where beneath a layer of peat, perishable items like butter, leather, wood and even bodies are perfectly preserved for thousands of years.

This painting is about the dark, damp days of this past week. Dressed for winter and trying to keep dry, against driving rain is an almost claustrophobic experience. No clean blues and purples here, as in recent paintings. The colours I used in the overall were a combination of Olive Green and Raw Umber. The combination is like a Sepia colour seen in pen and wash sketches and I stayed with this sketchy look throughout the painting.

The sky was also a sketchy effort. I painted it with John Constable’s cloud study sketches in mind.

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The colours used were Raw Sienna, Olive Green, Raw Umber, Cerulean Blue, plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The painting is 12″x9″ and was painted with a single No. 12 filbert bristle and a small nylon liner. Painting time was a little over an hour in a single session.

Here’s the video of the painting.


13 thoughts on “January

  1. I loved the background information, especially as I am from a forestry background.

    A couple of questions if you don’t mind: despite my training, I have a great passion for the sea and maritime art. Do you ever paint sea and ships? I know you live inland, but nowhere is that far from the sea in Ireland!

    The next question, in one of your sky demonstrations, you mentioned moving away from using black (not the above painting) and your last 2 or 3 didn’t use black either. Is this a new trend? Just wondering if this is a new development? I tend to avoid black in my paintings as much as possible and try whenever to make dark browns or very dark purples instead.

    Many thanks for inspiring.

    • Thank you David.
      Yes I live close to the sea, the nearest coast is about 40 miles away, so its not an every day experience. I generally don’t go looking for subjects to paint, I stumble upon them as I go about my daily business. A few years ago I painted from the area around “Courtown” on the east coast. You can check these out by putting Courtown in the search box above. I hope you approve of my efforts 🙂
      As you know I try to use as few paints as possible and at one time I experimented with not including black. This was OK for some combinations of colours, for example if the blue was Prussian or Ultramarine I could get deep shadows with Burnt Sienna or Umbers. But it was limiting the already limited palette. I understand a painter not using black if they have a large range of colours. I tried it for a while and am now using black again. The black is Ivory, a transparent paint I use to lower the tone of secondary colour mixes. On rare occasions I mix black with a single colour. One such rare instance is mixing black and Raw Umber to produce a totally unexpected shade of green?? So black is back on the menu, for the moment at least.

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