Thursday, April 17, 2014

Moorland Burning

"A Hill on Fire" - watercolour -- 16 x 26 cm

When I looked out of the window the other day, I saw this plume of smoke rising from the hill across the loch. It looked dramatic and I thought it would make an interesting subject, so I decided to paint it there and then. I wasn't sure how long the effect would last, so I decided not to do any drawing; I just wet a block of paper all over and floated in various colours. As the paper dried, I gradually defined some of the forms until I had built up a soft-edged impression of the subject. Then I left it to dry and finished the harder-edged areas later.

I don't know whether this fire was accidental or deliberate. The moors are managed with controlled burning at this time of year, known locally as 'Muirburn'. The mature heather is burned off to leave tender new growth for the grouse to feed on. However we also get wildfires in dry periods, and it has been fairly dry until recently.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Embedding Google+ posts in blogs

In this post I am trying out a feature of Google+ that allows you to embed posts into blogs, or any other websites. The clever thing is that most of the features of the Google+ post are still available in the blog. Try moving the cursor over the image below to see the links.

The way it's done is by clicking on the arrow symbol at the top left of a Google+ post. Select 'Embed post' from the drop-down list and copy the code that appears. Paste the code into the position in any website where you want to publish the post. To see what it will look like when you are editing a post in blogger, click on the preview button.

One advantage of embedding posts like this is that articles can be made available to people who don't have a Google+ account. They will then be able to comment on them through the blog. It's also a way of saving posts, which otherwise would eventually get lost in the social media stream.

Another point is that posts don't have to be your own for you to be able to embed them. Any public posts can be shared in this way, so it's possible to include a number of articles about a topic.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Returning to Nature

"Returning to Nature" - watercolour - 35 x 25 cm

When I first saw this scene from a distance, at Achscrabster Quarry, it looked like some kind of unusual tree. It was only when I got closer that I could see that it was a chimney completely covered with foliage, and what I had thought was just a patch of woodland, was a range of old buildings which were also becoming overgrown. It always fascinates me how, over time, nature can completely obliterate the works of Man.

By Keith Tilley

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Far North Line

"A Line-man's Hut, Kinbrace" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm

The Far North Line must be one of the finest railway journeys in Great Britain, perhaps even in Europe. Parts of it travel along a beautiful coastline, while other sections have mountainous scenery and wooded valleys. Finally there is the Flow Country, with its big, open landscapes.
Because it isn't a fast, busy line, it hasn't had to be upgraded very much, so it still has a feel of former times. Many of the stations still have their 19th Century architecture, and there are other old structures beside the track, like the line-man’s hut in the painting above. It would have been used by the man who was responsible for checking and maintaining that section of the line.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Impressions of the Pentland Firth

"Showers Over Hoy" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm

This is a series of paintings I made recently of the Pentland Firth; the stretch of sea that separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland. It is a treacherous channel, full of strong currents and tidal races. The islands are often shrouded in cloud, giving them an air of mystery. Most of them are fairly low-lying, but the island of Hoy has some mountains and dramatic sea cliffs, and the famous rock stack known as the Old Man of Hoy*.