Painting atmosphere: Kaye Donachie

After my assignment 2 my tutor gave me feedback on some of my sketchbook pages where I developed a sense of luminosity. In this context she suggested my to look at the works by Kaye Donachie (b. 1970), Glasgow born british painter. She works mostly at medium range of formats (40×50 to 50x60cm) on figurative paintings.  Her paintings are depictions of utopian, dreamlike scenes, with at times a combination of figurative and landscape elements. The figures are loosely , expressively painted, more blurred. Eerie lights, and dissolving forms and fading colors do convey a sense of luminous atmosphere. This achieved through mutilple layering of the oil paint

The paintings do all show a certain mood, mostly painted monochromly (blue-green, violet, yellow-green). The figures seems at times coming from the past , from the 30s to the 70s (Coxed, 2010).


– ‘Song For The Last Act‘, 2011. Oil on canvas (56.5 x 41.5 cm) Available from: [accessed 20 Aug 2016]

=> overall a cool painting in blue, pale blue, broken down with white. Outstanding and eye focus re the hands painted with warm ochre.  Very painterly done with broad flat color areas with a few some linear qualities (table cloth, background).

Quite contrasting to that painting is Donachie’s earlier painting on a bit larger scale

-‘Early Morning Hours Of The Night’,  2003. Oil on canvas (66 x 87 cm)  Available from: [accessed 20 Aug 2016]

=> Painted in broken earthy colors with somehow weird looking yellow-green coloured naked figures seen from the back moving towards a light source (? ). Another dreamlike painting conveying that specific mood by careful selection of colors. The earthy colors of the surrounding space though makes the image a bit more ‘real’. I find here the blurred brush marks quite appealing as it adds to the atmosphere (like a fuzzy dream).

I do think that the paintings are quite feminine in its expression and chosen subject. At times they remind me of scenes on stage in small theatres, nightlife, dream-life.

Many titles of her figurative paintings are sourced from the american poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950).

References for an overview of her paintings:




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