www.JohnOGradypaintings.com. Valley of Lights III
The Valley of Lights III ©John O’Grady, 2014
Oil on Panel, 19″x 19″


This painting has a combination of, as Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews),would say in the Sound of Music, “These are a few of my favourite things”: grasses, mountains, clouds, light and shadow.

This is the 200th painting completed on this blog so it got me thinking about some of the work I have made so far. The good ones and the not so good!

I was looking to see the development and how this could help me look forward.

First, I’d like to thank you for supporting my work, for commenting and informing my practice. I value your input and our exchanges and look forward to more.

Here is a little trip down memory lane.


An Irish Aubergine

Interested by the discipline of the daily painters and the way they explore what surrounds them, I started off by making a series of small still lifes, often one object I was trying to imbue with some degree of contemplative quality.

By really looking at an object I sought to capture something of the Auberginess of an Aubergine if that makes sense.


I Took the One Less Travelled By

I Took the One Less Travelled By

I am not too sure why I felt the urge to start painting landscapes. Though it seemed like a natural development.

The still life work was interesting and enjoyable but I found myself tightening up while painting. I emotionally respond to things when they are made in a freer way. This painting above was one of my first and had a warmth that conveys the heat of summer.

At this point, I was working completely from photographs and soon reached the limitations of this process when I found out it restricted expression.


night snow landscape christmas


This was the first painting made without any photographic reference. It was more about atmosphere and the process of painting instead of describing a place topographically. It wasn’t a eureka moment but I do recall having a number of small paintings around Christmas 2012 that I was unhappy with.

I sanded them down.

A winter scene with a series of trees that ran across the middle with mountains in the background was revealed to me and allowed me to find a way in that achieves a balance between abstraction and representation.

This gave me food for thought.

take me to the Island2

Take me to the Island

Making work without reference afforded me so much more freedom. Often as I was continuing through the process, it reminded me of a place or a time I responded to emotionally.

This gave the work an added charge.

I also realised that although I enjoyed painting small formats, vistas looking far in the distance with dramatic cloudscapes would work well on larger pieces.

I felt much happier working in this liberating way and still do.

Today’s painting, “Valley of Lights III” is a good example of the work revealing itself to me through the process of making.

Landscape painting allows me to express more of what drives me. This has percolated through over time.

I hope you have enjoyed this little review, I look forward to hearing what you think.