As Far as the Eye Can See III, ©John O’Grady
12″ x 16″ Oil on panel, requires framing
Not For Sale
The raking light of the evening sun has sent a warm glow across the bog and illuminates the grasses with flecks of light. The wide sweep of the land is laid out before us, stretching far off into the distance.
The evening light dissolves form.
Beyond is what seems like infinity but shapes shift and change as our eyes fail to focus on a fixed line on the horizon. Cumulus clouds billow high into the sky and then diffuse and we can witness their forms and colour evolving under the rays of the setting sun.
The air is cool and smells damp and fresh. It sweeps across the wide open vista, moving and swaying the grasses back and forth in a murmuring sound.
I have experienced all of these feelings and emotions when standing in such an overwhelming landscape. Like many previous paintings of open vistas, it is about scale and space and our tiny place in this vast scheme of things but
at the same time, being sensitive and still so that we can become attuned to the minutiae of the subtle shifts in light, shape and sound as they act upon our senses.
Have you have experienced something similar?
I would love to hear what you think.
What strikes me right away is how what first appear to be strong contrasts begin to meld the longer I look at the painting. There is a strong sense of the hard solidity of the earth against the airiness of the sky, separated by what appears to be a strong horizon line. But the red earthiness is reflected in the pink of the clouds, and the horizon slowly reveals itself as vague and shifting, with the land and sky in the distance merging and maybe overlapping. The inclining diagonals in the foreground seem to be extending almost in sympathy toward the declining line of the clouds, and the point of convergence is beyond our sight, somewhere outside of the border of the image. I get a sense of the intimate and the infinite here, John.
And as for perceiving “the minutiae of the subtle shifts in light, shape and sound as they act upon our senses,” I have had that experience, most recently while sitting at the edge of a pine forest on Cape Cod as the afternoon light moved over and through the leaves, the temperature changed, the sounds of birds and insects shifted, and time was both passing and paradoxically standing still.
It’s always of great interest to read your comments, and today’s is no exception. Your thoughts and insights into the painting made me look at it again with fresh eyes, as I make them. I particularly found interesting your comments on the horizon line and its relationship to the clouds as that aspect of the painting was something I wanted to bring out in the piece.
Thank you for recounting about your experience on Cape Cod. That is exactly what I had in mind ‘time was both passing and paradoxically standing still’. those special moments when we are connected to something beyond ourselves. It sounds like the way you beautifully describe it as a transendent experience and with a very strong sense of recall. Thank you very much’.
The description of the landscape as ‘overwhelming’ is apt John. It is the senses that are assaulted by being within such a landscape; sight, sound and scent and I detect the subtle shifts that you refer to. Colours change as the sun passes behind a cloud, the sound of wind as it buffets, twists and turns and the smell of different grasses and vegetation in the damp earth. It is all there in the painting which is fine, delicate and beautifully executed.
Clearly your experience of similar bog or peat landscapes made that connection with you. Your wonderful description of being buffeted by the wind and the smell of the grasses and damp earth brought back memories in a very vivid way of hiking over bogland. Thank you very much for sharing that and your thoughtful comment on the painting.