Clouds in the River Rhône, ©John O’Grady, 2014
Oil on Panel, 10″x 10″
A few months ago I visited Avignon, “La Cité des Papes” where the popes once resided. The road into Avignon runs alongside the mighty river Rhône. On a fresh December day, I managed to park up and climb down to the bank of the river.
From this viewpoint the Rhône stretched out before me towards the city, the perfect canvas to show off the quality of the clouds reflecting in the still water. It was magical.
This is a painting from memory of that special morning when the clouds were in the River Rhone.
I hope you enjoy this painting. I would love to hear your opinion.
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Beautiful and uplifting, John. I look forward to your next.
Thank you Michael, I hope your own work is going well
It moves me very much, don’t not why.
That means a lot to me that you were moved by it Dominique. Merci bien, c’est gentil
That’s beautiful, John. So real. I love how more “sky” is in the river than in the “sky”!!! Nicely done!!!
That was sort of the idea Terry to get a really high horizon line, so it’s all about the clouds in the water. Thank you
Beautiful work this is the first time seeing a waterscene of yours and its just lovely!!
Glad you like it Dawn, thank you, hopefully some more to come
Merci beaucoup, John….you are seriously prolific and your paintings are without exception moving.
Avec plaisir Sandy, on a bit of a creative roll at the moment, long may it last! thank you for the lovely comment
Another stunning picture,John.Like good wine your talent is improving with every work.Well done.
Thank you for your kind words Mary, much appreciated.
Another wonderful composition John. The perspective makes me feel that I am either swimming in the river (an unlikely event for sure) or in a low boat as the water is practically eye level. I think this gives it a powerful emotional charge.
Thank you Chris, the bank jutted out in one section of the river, so from a particular viewpoint it appeared as if I was in the water. This was done from memory though and probably not at all topographically correct but maybe the emotional mindscape is close
This is a special painting, John. I find it poignant that most of the image is the rendering of a reflection. The vanishing point, bordered by the soft trees, leading … where? Very moving, in a way that’s hard to express.
Thank you Josephine. Reality is often doubtful for me and probably for other people too. Except maybe I spend everyday exploring visual realities. Perhaps the reflection is another reality within the one painting. Certainly they emerged into the painting after a number of months.
I also wonder about your process in making these “memory” pieces, John. Do you take photos at the scene, or sketch? Or do you prefer to paint later without a physical reference? Maybe that would make them more purely emotional. You don’t have to answer, of course! I’m just always curious about how art comes into being. Thank you!
It’s really a way of working that I have found quite liberating and exciting Josephine. I was working with photographs and sometimes sketches as reference points for work up until maybe eight months ago, but accessing memory has always been a big part of what I do. I am never sure about things that are sure, so the term memory is questionable as I can see from this painting other things that have filtered into the work such as Klimt’s beautiful atmospheric landscapes of ponds and the Lake Attersee work.
How it works in a practical way is that I had four photos from that day which I had never looked at until after the painting was finished. Then I looked at them more out of curiosity than as a test of perfect recall. When I was using reference resources I felt closed down or constrained to represent what was before me in a photo although less so in a sketch. I also didn’t feel the joy of not knowing what lay ahead.
This piece started life as an intuitive use of colour and marks on the panel, at some stage I saw something in the painting that triggered that memory to emerge free and unforced as a mindscape of imagination, place, references. In what percentage of each I am not too sure, but I feel as paintings they are clearer to me. To use your term, “purely emotional”. They also allow aspects of abstraction to live side by side with representation.
You may have noticed Josephine I have very little topographical detail such as buildings etc as I naturally gravitate towards mood and atmosphere in what I do.
Funnily at present I am working on a piece that emerged from a walk last year, but this includes a church. I can recall the feeling of that day and how the wind blew etc, but I had to find a photo to get the architecture of the church as it just wasn’t on my radar. My recall failed miserably!
What I do is not new. The great American artist Wolf Khan uses sketches as reference but paints his landscapes in downtown New York I think. Also British artist Howard Hodgkin paints ‘intimiste’ scenes mainly, all from memory. Both make incredible work where colour combinations resonate.
Thank you for the question Josephine, as I don’t tend to dwell on these questions to much as Art is a verb. So it really helps to clarify my thoughts.
Let me know what you think.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I asked because this struck me as being as much an internal landscape as an actual one. What I also find very interesting is that you didn’t set out to paint this scene, but that your intuitive marks on the panel invoked this particular memory. What a liberating way to paint. If the work of any artist can be seen as a kind of self-portrait, this may be especially true for someone who works the way you do. So glad you’re on a creative roll, John. Enjoy the ride!
I had never really thought about them as self portraits, but I suppose they are. Thank you for the insight. I don’t know where it will take me Josephine but to extend the ride analogy it should be an interesting journey
Another breathtaking piece of work. Your description of how you paint demonstrates clearly, how creative and intuitive you are in your fabulous use of colour to demonstrate emotion and atmosphere. Long may your creative ‘roll’ continue, looking forward to seeing where your creative journey takes you next. Bon voyage!
Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment we’ll see where it takes us!
I like the painting very much, thank you John
Hello Barbarella thank you for your comment, glad you like it