Glendalough – Oil Painting


If you visit Ireland, as a tourist, one location you will definitely be brought to is Glendalough. An ancient monastic site, the sense of  peace is wonderful, especially in ‘off season’. Its not too far from where I live so I am a regular visitor there.

This is a relatively small painting, 12″x10″, and painted in a single session. The colours are Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and French Ultramarine. Others are Chrome Green Deep, Chrome Green Light and Raw Umber. Also, black and white. I used very little medium only a little Liquin at the final stages to help with the details as I am sticking with my policy of using large brushes only.

The painting process was videoed for the next post which will be available soon as the painting time was just over one hour.


Outlines in paintings

Cezanne, The Bathers

Monet, Impression, Sunrise

A recent post, on the subject of outlines in paintings by my friend Alissa, got me to thinking   about lines. I would regard a line in my painting the same way a carpenter does a line on a piece of wood, before he applies the saw – it defines a boundary which is destroyed in the subsequent process.

But this is not the form of the line Alissa is talking about. Its the outline which some artists have on objects in representational paintings. The paintings of Monet and Cezanne illustrates the difference, even though they were both members of the same Impressionist movement in art. Alissa was disturbed by the lack of lines in a drawing which was created by form only. I strive to remove lines from paintings and would never be happy with a sketch composed of outlines, although I appreciate this in other artists work. To me, a line defines the difference between what we see (no outlines) as opposed to what we know to be there. Think of Google Maps – the Satellite view as opposed to the Map view. You choose what you are comfortable with. The presence of an outline in a painting immediately defines the ‘type’ of representational art it is. Are you happy to be told what this shape is or do you want to guess at it and form your own conclusions.

There are probably deep physiological reasons why we chose one form or the other. My personal view is that representational  painting occupies a position on the artistic spectrum, somewhere between poetry and music. A painting with lines and defined objects is poetic, it has definite statements. A painting, especially an impressionist work, is like music. Individual notes of colour, when heard (or seen) are just blobs but heard (or seen) together form a melody. The melody does not make statements it evokes memories, emotions – its liked or disliked, we can’t say why.

OK, enough talk, back to the painting!

Seascape – time lapse ‘alla prima’

Skellig Michael

I really enjoyed painting this picture. The only part which was required to resemble a ‘real’ scene was the little island on the horizon – Skellig Michael. The rest was a conglomeration of elements from the coast of West Kerry and this makes for an enjoyable painting. In the normal course of events, the island should be on the one third line – to have a pleasing composition. In fact it was there in the original sketch and I moved it as the sketch was developed. Maybe it was because life on the island was anything but comfortable or maybe to balance the action on the left hand side, it just seemed right to be out of the norm. It is possible to ‘over think’ a situation.

Much of the white paint was added as pure white. Because the under layers were wet, the white was tinted with whatever was already there. The more the area is worked, the more the white is tinted. This is a technique I also use for snowscapes.

One more point which I notice from the video and I do without thinking. When a colour is introduced into the painting for the first time, as the Cadmium Yellow of the sunlight, to maintain harmony within the painting this colour is then dotted around the rest of the painting. Not only where it is required, as reflected light on the wave, but blended into colours already in-situ. I always try and have all colours dispersed in every area of the painting, especially landscapes. Example, the blue used in the sky is the same blue used in shadows and greens on the ground part of the painting. In the above painting, the sunset yellow was an after-thought, and the yellow used is so distinctive it would be an ‘alien’ element in the painting. Another way to harmonise colours is to use the same brush in different areas of the painting without thoroughly cleaning the brush between colours, if you know what I mean – the green used (Viridian) in the sea was left on the brush when I started to paint in the clouds of the sky.

I was thinking I might add some ‘final touches’ after the painting dries, but now I’m not so sure. The one session (alla prima) look of the painting is so fresh and honest, mistakes and all, I think I will leave it for a while.