Mike Cloran – "Swartberg – Karoo"

by Cindy Paul

Mike Cloran offers up in this online gallery a collection of landscapes of sweeping proportions and scope. Working exclusively in acrylics on large canvas boards, Cloran has a style that is given over to the capture, in photographic realism, of details of the scene before him, down to the last pebble on the ground an leave on every bush. "Montagu Karro" is a prime example of this tightly controlled, successful approach to his subjects. It depicts hilly vistas on a blue-sky background in exquisite detail.

While the artist’s paintings are carried out with extraordinarily minute precision, they are nevertheless anything but constrained. Take a look at "Karasberg Namibia" and you’ll find a good sample of the way Namibia portrays a landscape in a style that is at once hard-hitting and bordering on static. Much of the reason for this apparent and interesting contrast within each canvas can be attributed to the artist’s bold and consistent use of contrast through shadows.

"Swartberg – Karoo" is a dramatic example of this very technique. In fact, all the best of Cloran’s tricks of the trade are assembled together in this vibrant painting, which measures 47″ wide by 35″ high. An enormous plain stretches out before the viewer, pulling him in to travel past the hilly horizon to the cloud-bedecked blue sky beyond. Overarching everything is a remarkable effect granted by frilly cirrus clouds of white and their deepening shadows on the highly detailed field in the foreground. It’s a fascinating effect, indeed.