Glendalough Reflections, ©2014 John O’Grady,
16″x 16″, oil on Panel
Back in October 2012, I made a small painting of the lower lake of Glendalough, from the Irish Gleann Dá Loch “Valley of the Two Lakes” in county Wicklow.
Today’s painting is a second view, this time of the upper lake where Kevin, a monk seeking solitude arrived in the early 6th century. Anyone who has been there can appreciate why he chose to stay and why it became a major monastic site whose churches and ruins you can still see today.
I have heard many people say that it is their favourite place to be, that it has something special beyond its natural beauty and religious connections and I tend to agree with them.
This ineffable quality may be in some part to do with the lakes that are on certain days, so still the water acts as a mirror reflecting the corporeal world above.
The apparent symmetry of the mirror image offers us equilibrium, an all too rare moment in a world of flux.
Perhaps this is what Kevin first saw all those centuries ago: stability, symmetry and harmony.
Perhaps we unconsciously seek these things or we are naturally inclined to notice balanced proportions when focusing on something.
My painting “Clouds in the River Rhône” has a similar quality and composition.
When painting today’s piece, I used more saturated colour and a cooler palette which tells of the spirit of the place. I found though, that the clouds reflected in the lake have more movement than clouds I would normally depict above an horizon line. I wonder why that’s the case.
Do you get that sense too?
I’d love to hear what you think.
This is breathtaking, John. (And it is so interesting to compare it to the earlier pieces. I thought of “Clouds in the River Rhône” immediately, and your treatment of clouds has evolved since the October 2012 painting.) Here is a beautiful balance of serenity and power. The palette reinforces the sense of peace and stability, while the movement of the clouds on the surface of the water hints at the eternal flow of life.
I do think that we unconsciously seek out beauty and harmony — especially those of us who are not surrounded by it every day and crave it particularly. Even people with more symmetrical features are considered to be objectively more beautiful. This appears to be wired in us, and maybe in all animals.
This is a meditative piece that inspires mindfulness and tranquility.
When I looked back at October 2012 I did see the evolution, as I hadn’t seen that piece in a while, working on the clouds and seeing what colours could work was a real pleasure on this piece and I think liberating. Working upside down so to speak seems to suit. I love the idea that you saw the flow of life in the clouds movement on the water, that’s what I was hinting at with reference to Kevin as he might have seen the same view, so the wheel turns.
Funnily I was thinking about symmetrical features of faces, when I was writing this post, maybe the hard wiring has something to do with a survival instinct.
The title I hope informs that feeling of mindfulness and tranquility in the painting as well as describing a reflection of water. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments
And the light! The quality of the light is stunning.
Thank you Josephine, I have to say, that light came out particularly Irish. I was pretty happy with it
Yes, the Irish light. How i miss it.
Hopefully next year!
Your art is getting better and better.I love how evocative this piece is.
Thank you, that’s great that it captures a little bit of the magic of the place
There is such a lot I could say about this painting and the memories and feelings it evokes but I just wanted to refer to the special ‘Irish’ quality of the light which is hard to express in words but which you have captured so well. In it’s reflected form I think it has an elusive quality. I think we do like to balance, harmony and symmetry and unconsciously seek it out. It encourages thoughtful introspection which may have been why St Kevin was so content to stay. It is beautiful.
I am glad it captured some special feelings for you. The light seemed to work out well. it reminds of one of those darkish days when the light casts a yellowish green glow. I would like to think that he saw a similar view all those years ago, maybe that’s fanciful on my part. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
That’s really beautiful John, Glendalough is one of my favourite places too.
Thanks very much Eoin, it is a special place.
Brilliant, John the sky blue above the clouds is depicted perfectly.
Also the sky where the two mountains meet is a perfect colour.
The movement in the clouds sets off the tranquillity.
I am glad you got the movement in the clouds too. Thanks very much for your comment.