The Fallow Field, ©John O’Grady
12″ x 12″ x 1.75″, oil on deep edge panel
Not For Sale (NFS)
Le Plan de Dieu is a large plain of land, and it really is god’s own country as it produces some very special red wines.
It lies to the east of the town of Orange and because it’s a wide open space, it affords the viewer wonderful vistas across the vineyards.
At Easter I was driving through this area at night, probably around 9pm.
Slowly rising above the fields was a wonderful moon.
The most exciting part was seeing that first slither of glowing light rise above the horizon.
I pulled over next to a fallow field overgrown with wild shimmering grasses to enjoy the spectacle.
While I was painting this, I remembered a moon that imperceptibly emerged to grow and grow until it appeared enormous. Its colour started with a pale powder blue at the bottom and gradually changed to rose and gold.
I was so moved by the experience you would think I took a photo. But no. I wanted to hold the feeling of that sight close to me and trusted it would resurface while creating.
A month later, here we are.
In the painting, I think the moon is even larger than I remember it. It reveals the awe felt.
It’s a meditative piece with a simple composition that accentuates the floating, glowing orb in space.
When I came to write this piece, I checked on the full moon dates, making sure it was Easter. I discovered that this particular moon is a very rare occurrence. It’s called a ‘Blue Moon’ because it’s the second of two full moons that occurred within the same month.
I guess that’s where we get the saying ‘once in a blue moon’ from.
What is it about the moon and stars?
Seeing such sights connects us with something really deep, spiritual and profound.
It gets me every time.
Does it you? Let me know.
Wow. I love it. This is beautiful! The grasses are sparkling in the foreground.
Yes, I’m in total agreement. The moon and stars have an almost magical power over us. They can take your breath away.
Thank you for your comment. They certainly can take our breath away. Magical as you say.
For all its calm and cool colors, the painting is permeated with a heightened sense of reality that is subtly thrilling — the landscape is transforming before our eyes, each little shift bringing a new discovery of light and tone. Your description is equally evocative, John. I also believe in experiencing the present moment fully, without necessarily pulling out a camera to capture it. The photographer Sally Mann, in her book “Hold Still,” attributes her sharp visual memories of her father to having no photographs of him; a photograph can become the reference point that replaces the remembered lived experience. I also subscribe to the idea in art of exaggerating to tell the truth — in the way that your oversize moon and mystical palette communicate to the viewer the magic of that visual impact on you. As always I am amazed by your mastery of color — the subtlety and power you manage within a limited color range — and of light, with the tips of the waving grass aflame with moonlight. The rendering of the moon itself is an absolute wonder. How very beautiful.
It’s great to hear your thoughts on savouring the moment and not going straight for the camera. I agree with you, something can be lost in that instant, can’t it? Thank you for mentioning Sally Mann’s book, it sounds really interesting and very moving. I am going to check her out, it sounds like my cup of tea. The exaggeration in art you talk of, is so true Jo. I am naturally drawn to paintings that tell of another reality a hyper-reality perhaps.
There is a mysterious, magical atmosphere in this painting which conveys visually what you have expressed so well in words; it evokes that special emotional feeling experienced as we marvel at the the night sky in all its glory. The softness of the brushstrokes contrast with the ‘tingling’ glistening tips of the grasses, the coolness of the blues and violets contrast with the pink hues above the horizon and the large orb of the translucent moon with its hint of gold contrasts with the sillhoutted contours of the trees. Beautiful!
Thank you very much for your comment. I am glad to hear that you felt the painting had a mysterious atmosphere. I was happy with the ‘glistening tips’ that you mention, they do work well with the blues and violets in the painting.
John, I love this. But I have to be honest…my first thought upon opening my email and then clicking to your page? It’s Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine and some of the vistas created in the SW saga!!! LOL!! It’s a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Terry, I could see why you thought that, it certainly has that SW feel to it :). Thanks very much