Olive Grove in Les Baronnies, ©John O’Grady
8″ x 11.75″ oil on panel, requires framing
There is a small scenic winding road that passes between the village of Chateauneuf-de-Bordettte and Mirabel-les- Baronnies.
Close to Mirabel, olive groves are neatly laid out to the left and right of the road. The ground around the trees is manicured, nets are tied between the trees like hammocks, ready to be laid on the ground to harvest the olives in November.
Sometimes though, you can come across a grove or field that has gone ‘native’; the Olive trees and long blonde grasses meld into one in a pleasing way.
This particular grove had the light of summer evening filtering through the trees, silhouetting them against the light.
At the end of the overgrown grove, you can spot an old abandoned cabanon.
In this painting though, the real focus is the sculptural gnarled trunk twisted by age.
Against the light its beautiful form appeared to take on a blue, violet and reddish cast that’s accentuated by the blond colour of grasses that surrounded it.
In shadow, Olive trees appear almost black and in full sun are light grey brown but when I came to paint this piece remembered from last summer and I closed my eyes, I was back in the quiet grove and the tree revealed tints of deep blue and purple.
A quote from Gauguin immediately came to mind:
‘If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue’.
Although my olive tree is not blue, it shows different shades of colour.
Perhaps ‘The Colours of an Olive Tree’ would be a better title, what do you think?
Being partially colour blind I find it hard
To separate different shades. But you described the
Scene beautifully. Your painting enhances one
Of nature’s beauty 🙂
Thanks very much for that, much appreciated
Hello John, I can sense the age and quietness of the olive grove ‘gone native’. The painting engenders that floaty feeling of wading through drifts of long grass amidst sun spots and dappled light. It is very atmospheric.
I am glad to hear that it evoked that atmosphere of a ‘ floaty feeling’ how wonderful. that ‘dappled light’ plays an important part in the painting 🙂 Thank you very much for your insights
“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.”
Yes. This reminds me of the basic rule of drawing what your eye sees, not what your brain tells you [the thing] is. And if you closed your eyes and saw this — how marvelous.
Lately when I view your work, the first word that comes to mind is “magical.” Here is a landscape transformed (or maybe truly revealed?) by the angle and quality of the light — a light so clear and dazzling that the eye cannot comprehend individual leaves or tiny details, just movement, colors, shapes and atmosphere. It takes my breath away.
Yes that rule is a great one isn’t it, but oh so hard to put into practice. My brain likes to trick me into sticking with old habits. I think Gaugain must have had steely determination.
Thank you for your insights into the painting. That ‘dazzling light’ you mention is I feel starting to enter into what I make.
So glad it took your breath away.