Those who know me well understand my weekness for an old ruin. This crumbling rusty tin roofed shed still just standing at the northern tip of the Isle of Gigha. I will be holding an exhibition in March/April 2011 at the Gigha gallery. The island is a delight sheltered between the Kintyre peninsula and the Paps of Jura it provides constant inspiration. My short visits have produced a profussion of drawings which I am now working from.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The cliffs are truly awe-inspiring jutting raw and rugged, plunging into the Minch, amorphous shapes scrached out by some vast sea monster. The heritage trail to Ness provides magnificent views of coastline particlarly if ones strays off the indicated path which seem to lead one into the nearest bog. I make an early start and spend the day sketching returning heavy legged but keen to put paint to canvas.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The sketch was done on a bright summers day but what I wanted was the drama that I'd seen a week earlier that still remained clear in my memory. I decided to work big with this one and took a meter square canvas that already had a view of Brittany that I now found dull and disappointing. I find working over an old canvas is invariably doubley rewarding with the past image serving as guide to the future. Painting several month after the sketch is not always easy but for a place that is so familiar I am quickly transported back. Like a good wine drunk at the Chateaux vignoble the taste and smell alone will instantly take you back there. The sketch which now transports me once more to that cliff edge.
Traigh Ghearadha, Tolsta, Isle of Lewis. In the foreground is the ruined remains of the 12th century Castle Mhorair which sat atop the stone stack.
This has been my summer retreat for the past four years where I have been working to restore an old croft house and barn. The house is now finished and to let (see http://www.hebrides-cottage-holiday.co.uk/ or simply follow the link in the Scotland page of my website. Over to the far right of this painting is where I cut my peat and if the weather is with me they dry. The work is physically hard but there is no better place. Last year it didn't happen and I left before I was able to bring them in so they will remain on the moor over winter.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
As the days grow shorter and I try to ignore the fact that flights to Australia are even cheaper, I stoke the woodburner and settle to painting for next years show on the island of Gigha off the west coast of the Kintyre penninsula throughout the months of March and April. This has been a productive period which has been further enhanced by the fact that I spent my informative years on the Kildalloig Estate on the Learside road out of Campbeltown. Then I had an accent thicker than porridge and my days where spent climbing trees, constructing dams in the burns rushed down to the foreshore and searching in rock pools and under squelching sea weed for crabs, winkles and shrips. The island of Davaar was a constant visual presence crouching toad like within the mouth of Campbeltown Loch its soaring weather beaten cliffs glowing in the low morning light as we waited for the taxi that would take us to Dalentober School. Crossing the Dhorlin in the Landrover at low tide and bolder hopping my way round to the caves and the painting of the crucifixion. Perhaps it all started there before that stark naked flesh in such a cold dark place or was it the large gilt framed oil painting above the sideboard of highland cows in the glen by Thomas Hunt, the paint laid on so thick the canvas seem to sag with the weight. Today I cleaned that painting of its yellow varnish and marvelled again at the vibrant colour of the wonderfully free brushwork.