Night Sea Ireland

The Edge of the Deep Green Sea, ©John O’Grady, 2013
Oil on Panel, 10″x 10″


I have been working on this painting for the last few weeks.

Green dominates through the whole piece in a tight tonal arrangement with a passing nod to Whistler….

My last few pieces had a sense of drama. I thought it was time for something a little more tonal and tranquil.
Although this work has a strong saturation of colour, I found that the simplification of this piece required, to use a musical analogy, really fine tuning.

One accent too strong could throw the piece out.

I am a big fan of the American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler whose work is presently showing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.

He is above all else known for painting his mother and other fine portraits including, as someone mentioned recently, one of Thomas Carlyle, a prominent Scottish philosopher and historian. Yet his landscapes are worth a detour to appreciate in the flesh their finesse and modernity.

When naming his landscapes, he borrowed musical terms like “Nocturne”, “Arrangements” “Harmonies” that draw parallels with the tuneful and melodic movements he sought to create with a tonal palette. The result gives his work freshness and sensitivity that has been retained to this day.

The works that stand out for me are the land/seascapes called Nocturnes. The close tonal arrangement in a dominant colour with diffused shapes pervading the work make these paintings truly innovative and verging on the abstract.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903).
Nocturne: The Solent, 1866, Oil on canvas, 50.2 x 91.5 cm (19 3/4 x 36 in.).

Or the more abstracted:

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903).
Nocturne in Blue and Green 1871, Oil on Canvas

It’s hard to believe that this incredibly modern work is over 140 years old.

I’d love to hear what you think about my painting or Whistler.