I began this painting (above) a week or more ago. It is loosely based on some photographs I took in the bog this year, particularly this fuzzy looking one with the trenches at right angles in the distance.



Rainy landscape photo by Deborah Watkins




I started work on a 12″ x 14″ x 1.5″ canvas and outlined the composition with broad strokes of colour. I’ve accentuated the right angled trench and made it the centre of attention.


First stage of 'Surge' painting




Next I added some textured paste. I’m really enjoying this stuff – it does exactly what you want it to do, so when you put it on the canvas it doesn’t slide off and it holds it’s shape perfectly until it dries.


Second stage of 'Surge' painting




Here are some close ups – I’ve used my hands to make the marks, as well as brushes of different sizes and various tools that came to hand. I’m interested in putting some energy into the piece with these marks, in making the surface seem to writhe with movement as it sometimes appears to do in life.


Close up of textured paste





Second close up





The paste takes several hours to dry completely so I return to it the next day. I go back in with colour to describe the grasses and the landscape and I make the trench a watery one with blues.


Next stage of painting




This is what the piece looks like when it’s still wet and after lots of colour has been applied (below).


More colour added to painting




The paint loses it’s gloss once it has dried (below) but this will return later once the canvas has been varnished.


February Landscape




When I look at it again, I realise that there are too many horizontal lines and shapes which need to be broken up. I decide to correct this by making some small vertical shapes in the centre of the canvas so that the eye is carried around the painting rather than stopping at the point where this trench shape ends.


Finished Landscape




I’m pleased with the results and I’ve decided to call the piece ‘Surge’. This describes for me the movement of the landscape – movement that the eye can see but also the shiftings that take place over hundreds of years. Thousands of years. Layers of matter building up all the time and layers being washed away. I love this notion of the land as a living thing, observed cooly in the distance by the unchanging character of the mountains.



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!


Connemara Sheep by Evie Lavelle

I’ve been working on this large landscape. It’s 12″ x 14″ x 2″ which is a large deep canvas by my standards. It began this below.


First stage of Large Textured Landscape





Then I added more colour.


Second stage of Textured Landscape





Next I brushed on some textured paste, my first time using this medium. It has the consistency of thick paint and is opaque white in colour. I worked into the paste once it was on the canvas to created different kinds of textures. It should probably be applied before this much paint has been put on to the canvas but I wanted to make the textures relevant to what is happening in the painting. I have a pet hate for landscape art that uses texture randomly.


Large canvas with texture





Here’s some close ups below.


Close up of texture medium on canvas




Second close up





Next I added more paint.


Next stage of landscape painting




Here’s the piece after a more work (below).  I’ve covered the canvas with colour now and I’ve made this corner on the left darker than I’d originally planned. I’ve also added some green and brown to the pool as I wanted it to have a more murky feel to it.


Finished painting





When I looked back at the last two images, I saw that I had removed most of the green from the clump of grasses on the front right of the canvas so I went back and put some more green back in there.


Landscape with a little more green





I’ve learnt a few things making this painting – the first is that I love working with this textured paste. It brings the piece alive for me by – a bit like modeling with clay ( ahh, I remember those days ). More than that, I’ve learnt to trust this material ( paint ) which probably sounds a bit strange or perhaps too obvious but sometimes the hardest things to grasp are the things that are right in front of our noses! It’s an acceptance of the material and the ability to really work with it, to just go for it without trepidation. I think I’m finally learning to do this and I feel happy with the way the work is progressing at the moment.