This painting below is one I made towards the end of last year. There’s something about it, something accidental that happened that really works. I want to replicate it on a larger scale to see if I can work out what this is exactly. I also want to introduce some of the textured paste I used in my last piece which I think will lend itself well to this composition. Finally, I’m keen to find out if I can change the scale of a small piece like this ( 6″ x 8″ ) and still keep the essence of it intact. I was reading some of Seamus Heaney’s poems at the time about the bog bodies and I love this idea of the bog as a resting place, a secret tomb.


Original 'Black Bog' painting





Here’s how I began below. The canvas is 12″ x 14.5″ x 2″


First stage of painting





Next I applied some paste, scooping it onto the canvas with a brush and then working it with several brushes, sometimes with the wrong end of the brushes to make sgraffito type lines


Landscape with a layer of textured paste





Here’s some close ups of the different textures. I love the variety of marks that are possible – thick raised pieces and scratchy sinuous lines. Hopefully it will give the finished piece some real depth.


Close up of texture



Second close up




Once the textured paste had dried, I began to paint the middle and foreground of the canvas. I worked quickly with paints and inks, taking advantage of the way the two materials behave together. I didn’t pause to take pictures along the way until I was satisfied that I had the results that I wanted. This next photo was taken after a couple of days when the colours had almost completely dried. The black/brown of the bog has a leathery feel to it that I am very pleased with but was difficult to photograph without getting too much shine.


Textured landscape with colour




Here are some close ups.


Close up of Landscape




Second close up




The next part of the painting I worked on at this point was the mountain nearest the bog. I had painted it with ultramarine blue which just looks too ‘straight out of the tube’ and is too distracting. I mixed up a slightly duller colour (below), truer to the blue silhouettes that you see here. I want these mountain shapes to be flat and serene looking to contrast with the energy and life of the bog.


'Underneath' Landscape - finished piece




I am very happy with these results as I think I have hit on the essence of this piece and the direction that I would like the paintings to follow from this point. It’s the intangible nature of this place, the idea of life underneath the surface and more. The composure of the landscape on the surface versus the darkness and unrestrained nature  of the layers underneath. More work to do!