Peak-Time, ©John O’Grady 2015
Oil on deep edged canvas, 16″ x 16″ x 1.75″, ready to hang

Leonardo da Vinci once described clouds as “bodies without surface”.

Cumulus clouds have a nebulous quality and yet at the same time, they are Sculptural, they move gracefully upward and make their way across the sky slowly.

They are heavy with moisture but their movement and transparent qualities belie their weight.

How can this be captured in paint?

Watercolour lends itself to the ephemeral nature of clouds and many painters such as Turner have used this medium successfully.

In oil paint, it’s a little bit different due to its substantial nature that combine texture and opacity but oils can have a delicacy if used in the form of glazes.

A glaze is created with a small amount of transparent oil paint suspended in a medium of Dammar varnish, thickened linseed oil and gum turpentine. This is then applied thinly to give the delicacy of a fine veil placed over the previous paint.

The colour is built up one layer at a time and once dry, it shifts and deepens slightly. It’s like magic.

In this piece, I wanted the clouds to appear to glow internally as they catch the last light of the day coming from the right.

While painting, I kept thinking how we look at clouds that constantly change shape and lack solidity while at the same time, they are so substantial that when we see these large masses, we can be humbled and, awed, see our relationship with the world in a new light.

I would love to hear what you think.