Storm – Oil Painting


At this time of year, from where I live the lights of surrounding towns and cities can be seen. Not only at night but on stormy dark afternoons.. In rural Ireland, it is part and parcel of life that people leave the area and move to the towns and cities for college or work. Those who are left behind look at the twinkling lights, remembering that last summer.

This was going to be a knife painting. Although a small painting (12″x10″), after a few minutes I was irritated by the slowness and tedium of spreading the paint, so I reached for the brushes. The scene in the painting is similar to a previous painting, ruins of old 18th century farms alongside present day farm life. In the blobs of paint I’ve tried to suggest details which are discoverable and not immediately obvious.

The colours were different from recent paintings. The red was represented by Raw Umber, a rich brown with only a hint of red. Yellow Ochre, also very dull as a yellow, and Cerulean Blue, also a weak colour. There was also of course, black and white. These colours gave a particular feel to the painting. At this time of year, brown colour predominates. I did not use any medium until the fine lines were needed. This was a bit tedious as well, but I was after a ‘rough’ look, also in keeping with the scene. The video is included in this post and also a poem on the same theme as the painting.


The storm had watched them through Summer
and now, skirting the bogland
found some loose metal sheeting
thrashing itself to death.

While prayers were said by those at home
every jagged edge was screaming
high above the house
where storms pass on
to fall lightly like a murmur
down the misty flat windows of Rathmines.


Abandoned House – Oil Painting

Abandoned House

The house may be abandoned, but it takes a long time for the spirits of those who lived there to completely evaporate. The theme of abandoned house is appropriate for this time of year, for a few different reasons. Emigration is once again a feature of Irish life and this scene is set to be repeated all over the country. After Christmas, families at home for the season, will breakup, many returning to the far corners of the world (such a rich country, such poor management). Christmas also reminds us of those, who were with us at this season in the past, and are no longer here.

Nothing different in the method I employed in this painting from previous oil paintings. When you watch the video (next post) you will notice how dark the overall painting becomes before the light is introduced. In this painting its very obvious as the entire foreground is featureless and has to be made interesting. I avoided the usual placing of a foreground ‘object of interest’ on the one third line which is the usual practice for producing a ‘pleasing’ composition. At the construction stage I drew in the lines of perspective and also the lines the eye follows (subconsciously) on its journey into the painting. This produces a framework on which I can create an interesting empty space. Its a common mistake to move into the light colour phase too early on, also, less is better than too much. Its good to progress slowly adding the lights. Stop after every few strokes of the brush and assess the situation. Look at the painting upside-down, in a mirror, from the next room. Anywhere, to get a fresh view. The lines of perspective are a great help in reminding you to enlarge shapes (and brushstrokes) as they approach the viewer.

The colours are: Indian Red, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, Chrome Green Light, Raw Umber and black and white. A little bit more difficult to keep colour mixes clean with this selection. Indian Red, does not produce great vibrant colours in mixes, as mentioned in a previous post. The addition of white to any mix containing Indian Red produces a lifeless ‘smokey’ colour.

Liquin was the medium used, and used very sparingly. This means the painting will take ages to dry and will have lots of dull patches. As mentioned previously, I now always ‘oil out’ with pure Linseed Oil (50/50 with White Spirits) in case I decide to varnish and not frame under glass.

And now a poem to complete the picture.


Seduced by shelter and a door half closed
I press in. The rain subsides.
But I wait, a traveller at a terminal
long after all had gone and nothing of value
remains on the littered floor.

An open razor here.
Like the one my father used
in a time before he had fallen
in love with sadness,
is where it had fallen.

The leaves cascade.
A gentle hush, as a finger to the lips,
then talk of rain in the hills
and sun in the west.
Leaving, I close the door.

Enjoy the remainder of the holidays.

Mortality, a life threatening condition.


I posted this earlier in the year and didn’t tag the post, so it remained buried in the archives since then. I’m reposting as a response to ‘Versatility’ anxiety (see here and here).

The sweltering heat at hand
and along a stretch of beach
made hard the shadows
and the imperfections on her skin,
footprints on sand,
far from its reach
and its bathwater flows
erasing all but Adam’s sin
lapping at the edge of land.

The above picture is a combination of photography and digital painting. The text is part of the picture and I have included it in the event you cannot read it in the picture.
Its a comment on modern society. Especially the obsession with physical appearance which we see everywhere today. Films, TV, advertising, its everywhere. The human form is presented, flawless as a classical statue. The feeling of being physically inadequate must haunt the susceptible. Especially the young.
Even though we know that photographs can be ‘Photoshopped’ we subconsciously accept the image as real. I think this media was appropriate for this ‘painting’.

The elements in the picture are:
the beach – where the D-Day scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan was shot (Curracloe, Co. Wexford, Ireland)
the statue – Venus de Milo, even she suffered from the ravages of time
the beach litter – Leonardo’s da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture (Wikipedia).

The computer application used was Photoshop, appropriately.



Its a long time since I posted a digital painting. So here is my illustrated poem about the dawn of the day, the dawn of the year and the dawn of Christianity. I’m not a very religious person, but it is Christmas time.

The sketch was drawn with a Biro, photographed, and opened in Photoshop. By changing the picture mode from Greyscale to Bitmap the lines were made rough at the edges and the shades of grey were converted to black or white. I then brought the mode back to Greyscale as this allows more scope in manipulating the picture. The text was typed into a separate layer in white and the background layer painted black to show the white text. I did the painting, etc. using the scratch pad on my laptop. A graphics pad would have been a lot easier, if I could remember where I put the pen.

In a way I was shamed into doing something different as I was nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award. But I’m addicted to landscape painting and I will need a ‘fix’ soon, although it will be hard to detach myself from the Christmas activities of the coming week. If I’m not back before then, happy Christmas to all who read this and see you when the Sun/Son returns.