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The Glow of the Night, ©John O’Grady, 2014
Oil on Panel, 23″ x 23″
Summer nights in southern France have a quality that fills me with wonder. The heat during the day can be too much to spend a lot of time in but it has its compensations. When the night falls, the earth releases the day’s heat, breathing a sigh into the air often filled with such sweet perfumes of wild herbs that it can be quite heady.
This painting was started at the same time as my previous painting #203 and had the same process of using a paint bleed onto the panel and moving the paint around to arrive at something interesting in terms of shape and colour.
With a warmer use of underpainting colours like vermilion and violet/blue, it contrasts with the cooler palette of the last painting.
When the paint dried, what I saw were the rivulets of violet that had run into the red. You can still see some of this paint showing through the trees on the upper right.
The shape of the dried paint revealed the shape of large pines in the distance and below that, the deep red earth that you can sometimes see in the fallow fields and unkempt vineyards.
Above the horizon line the violet/blue had dried in the shape of night clouds illuminated by the moon.
In front of me was a perfect reflection of the weather and hot Provençal nights experienced over the last few weeks.
If you go off the beaten track here, up and down “petits chemins” deep in the countryside, you will find the ruins of old farmhouses and “cabanons” amongst fields that have old vines sitting like black statues, twisted and dark and beautiful amongst seas of wild flowers and grasses. This is just discernible on the left in the night light.
The making of any painting doesn’t arrive in a vacuum. As mentioned before, I am tapping into memory, imagination and of course other painters and paintings that hold my hand like trusted friends when I am trying out new things.
This time, Derain and Matisse and the daring fauvist work they undertook over 100 years ago and that’s still as fresh today came to mind. Especially ‘The Turning Road, L’Estaque’ by Derain whose bold explorations encouraged me to push how I combined colours in this piece.
I would love to hear what you think about my painting.
Wow! This painting is a truly sensory experience. It is not a landscape or environment I have ever experienced or connect with personally yet I can ‘feel’ it – the heat, the smell, the sounds even; it invites me into an unfamiliar world. The scene glows from the earth below and shimmers from the moonlight above.Those pine trees are majestic and sculptural whilst the grasses are delicate and soft balancing texture and form.
It really was a big part of the painting Christine, trying to convey through paint a sensory experience. the heat and mood of a hot night. I do like your comment regarding the glow emanating from the earth but also the shimmer of the moon, that balance between warm and cool, earth and sky was also very much part of the painting development. Thank you very much.