Brendan and the Stars by John O'Grady | Decorative landscape painting with ship sailing on a star-studded night reflecting in the still water
Brendan and the Stars ©John O’Grady
8″ x 8″ x 1.5″, oil on on deep edge canvas, ready to hang.
$250  (approx. £195, €228) with free shipping.

Saint Hippolyte at Dusk by John O'Grady | Contemporaray painting of twilight in Provence when the moon rises above the crest of the hill lined with pines
Dusk at Saint Hippolyte ©John O’Grady
31.75″ x 31.75″ x 1.8″, acrylic on deep edge canvas, ready to hang.
$2190 (approx. £1652, €1880) with free shipping.

The moon and the stars is the theme for the two paintings I’m showing you today.

Each painting relates also to a saint and along with being celestial expresses a way of seeing a world full of poetry and magic.

‘Brendan and the Stars’

It is said that on the south west coast of Ireland in the early part of the 6th century, Saint Brendan sets sail in a leather-clad boat along with 16 monks to search for the Isle of the blessed.

Some say he managed to cross the seas, landed in Greenland and then reached America 1000 years before Columbus and centuries before the Vikings.

Like many of these stories shrouded in the mists of time, this adventure resonates to this day when people cross oceans in a leap of faith in search for a better life…

I started the painting by making a pattern of stars and rounded clouds across the canvas to convey the still, calm of the sea reflecting the heavens above.

The sea’s stillness reminded me of childhood. When given a folded paper boat, I placed it on the still water.

What would it do? Sink?

Miraculously, it floated and, like I hoped, with the littlest of breezes sailed to the other side of the pond.

The child’s small decision of placing a delicate paper boat on the water and wishing it to move and reach the other side made me think about the leap of faith Brendan took when starting his voyage and the trust he placed in the stars and the Moon.

In our lives, any journey into the unknown, including any new creative project such as starting a painting calls for that belief that the stars will align for us.

‘Saint Hippolyte at Dusk’

Saint Hippolyte le Graveyron as it’s fully called is a place I like to return to in my paintings.

The village, situated close to the ‘Dentelles de Montmirail, has a quiet spell-like quality especially when you walk up one of its hill and look ahead.

One thing you see is another hill and on its crest, a line of Mediterranean pines stand out against the skyline.

Have you noticed, sometimes at dusk, the light shimmers with a luminescent green-blue colour?

In the painting, the full, glowing moon rises through the trees. Colours are altered, subtly.

I sought to make this a moment so hushed and quiet, you feel it’s time to stop and reflect.

Tell me, what comes to mind when seeing these two paintings?