November Bog

Near Maam by Laureen Marchand

 

This is another painting in the Black Bog series that I’ve been working on. It’s similar to the last one featured here but it’s twice the size at 10 x 8 inches. This is how it began;

 

November bog painting first stage

 

 

 

Next, I added a line of brown ink and dragged the colour downwards with a broad brush to give the lower part of the painting an under colour. I also used some gold paint.

 

Second stage of November bog painting

 

 

 

Here’s the next stage below. I’ve used lots of colour – browns, reds, yellows and golds. I’ve manipulated the way the inks react with the paint to create interesting textures and I’ve worked with a variety of brushes to make different kinds of marks.

 

Third stage of November bog painting

 

 

 

Once this layer of paint had dried completely, I worked on the piece again (below). I deepened the blues of the hills in the background and I darkened some of the colours to give the painting more contrast.

 

Fourth stage of November bog painting

 

 

 

This is the finished piece below. Once again, I added more paint and ink when the last layer was completely dry. I altered the line of the bog slightly to make it less horizontal and I’ve given the bog more depth with these additional layers of colour.

 

Finished 'November Bog' painting by Deborah Watkins

Finished Paintings

I finished these two paintings over the weekend. The first one looked like this the last time I wrote about it.

 

Bog Painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

I wasn’t satisfied with it the way it was so I worked at it some more and used a tiny brush to define the water channel. This recedes in to the background now which gives a stronger sense of distance but I’ve lost the rushing water in the foreground.  I think it’s a different piece altogether now (below), whether or not it is a better painting is another question!

 

 

 

 

This is the other piece as I left it (below).

 

Bog Painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

I felt that I needed to do very little with this one – I just altered the line of the bog on the left slightly and added some more paint to the mountains in the background. This is the finished version (below).

 

Finished Landscape by Deborah Watkins

 

Landscape – Progression

This is a bog landscape I’ve been working on as it has progressed. This is how it looked after the first sitting. The colours were true in the sense that the landscape did seem a lovely pale colour when I squinted my eyes. However, I felt that the overall appearance of the painting at this stage was quite flat. I decided that it needed more contrast and I also needed to dilute the horizontal brown lines on the left which are distracting because they are parallel with the edges of the canvas.

 

Bog Landscape, unfinished

 

 

I darkened the middle background of the canvas by adding more gold, orange and some green. Then I brightened up the sky with some blue and added more paint and detail to the foreground.

 

Bog Landscape, finished

 

 

I’m calling this one finished. The golds and browns here remind me of the raku glazes I used when I made pots. There is a lovely element of surprise with ceramics (especially raku) when the glazed pot is revealed – I will write a post about my work as a potter soon. When I use paint and ink together as I have done here, I get a sense of this as the result is not entirely predictable. I love the way the colours bleed in to each other and this sometimes has a depth about it that is like looking at the fused layers of glass and colour on a glazed pot.

Bog Pool

Here is another photograph taken from the Bog Road, between Clifden and Roundstone. The road itself is like a ribbon of tarmac that bumps over the surface of the Bog ( top right of photograph ).
I’ve used the pool in the front of this picture as the inspiration for the painting below.

 

Photo of a Bog Pool

 

 

This piece is similar to one I finished recently but I’ve made the water a stronger feature in this one – I am going to do several more paintings about this area because there is much to work on. I’ve used straight lines to delineate the pool in the foreground where the cut earth has been flooded. I love this play between the uniform lines or human marks left by the bog cutting and the wildness of the place which ultimately takes over.

 

Painting of Bog Pool

 

 

I worked this in one sitting while paint and ink were wet. I really enjoy the way that these two materials interact with each other and I feel that they lend themselves well to this subject.

Evening Sea – In Paint

Last week, I took a short drive south of Clifden to the Coral Strand, which is near the village of Ballyconneely. It was evening and the sun was setting against a menacing sky which threatened for a while and opened into a downpour just as I was leaving. The dark blue and turquoise colours of sky and sea against the peach coral sand and golds of the evening sun were truly spectacular. Here are a couple of the photographs that I took;

 

Photo 1 of Coral strand

 

 

Photo 2 of Coral strand

 

The top photo was taken slightly earlier in the evening. The rain storm is visibly brewing in this magnificent cloud, which seems unnaturally solid and bulky in the way that it hangs over the land in the distance. I tackled the subject in paint, as you can see below and tried to keep my focus on colour and atmosphere. The first picture shows the initial sketching out of the composition in charcoal and acrylic paint.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 1

 

 

I’m using a heavy acrylic paper here. I’ve added more colour for the next shot.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 2

 

 

I’m always in danger of going too far with these because I’m working quite fast and layering wet on top of wet.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 3

 

 

Looking back I like the piece at this stage ( above ). However, I took it further as you will see below and it has darkened considerably.

 

Coral strand painting, stage 4

 

What do you think about this one? It was still wet when I took the photograph. Did I take it too far?

Telegraph poles

Telegraph poles line the road ways here and are as much a part of the landscape as the scraggy Connemara sheep. There are large areas of protected land on which there is little evidence of any human interference save for the ubiquitous telegraph poles. The harsh winds in Winter bend the poles so that one in five ( or so it seems ) breaks the line and leans over drunkenly. The first two photographs show this and below them a painting of mine.

 

Photo 1 of telegraph poles

 

 

Photo 2 of telegraph poles

 

 

Painting of telegraph poles

 

 

The telegraph poles and wires bring something to the landscape for me and more often than not I choose to include them in my work. They are after all a lifeline for the communities here. Of course, most people also have mobile phones nowadays but the uneven topography of the land and small population means that there are still pockets of land with no signal and so the telegraph wires are much needed for communication.
I use charcoal over acrylic paint to illustrate the poles and wires and I love the way these lines follow the line of the road and can bring life to a painting.

Is it finished?

This is a question I ask myself at some point with every painting. Sometimes it is easy to decide that yes, I have done enough and I should stop now. Sometimes it is not so easy.
Usually, I will allow myself to ‘sleep on it’ for a while and see the painting afresh when I look at it first thing in the morning, for example.
Occasionally, G will look over my shoulder and say – ‘don’t touch that, put your brushes down, it’s done’. One such time, I was incredulous that this was his opinion when I had thought that I was only getting started! (Btw, G is a full-time painter and gallery owner so I do put good stock in his opinions).
The thing to be avoided at all costs is overworking a painting and so the quality that I am always striving for myself is a freshness of touch. I believe that this comes with practice and confidence although it is by no means guaranteed every time, no matter how well practiced and confident one might feel! The viewer is always entitled to disagree with the results in any case and I do like to get the opinion of others. So, in this vein, I present to you the hen painting I started last week. This first photo was taken at an in between stage – I was reluctant to do much with the hen figure here and just added a little to the background.

 

Painting of hen, in progress

 

 

This is the finished painting below taken from two angles. I’ve used a 4 x 4 ” canvas which is almost 1. 5″ deep. I am enjoying working on these little blocks because straight away, the painting becomes a solid thing. I continue the background loosely around the edges, shown in the last photograph to really maximize the character of the painting as an object.

 

Finished Painting of hen 1

 

 

Finished Painting of hen 2

 

 

The question remains however, is it finished? I think so in this case but what do you think?