Sunday, November 1, 2015

Back to the Irthing Valley

"A Break in the Clouds, Irthing Valley", watercolour, 24 x 35 cm

I have been clearing out and tidying my studio, and in the process I have been looking through my old paintings. I found this one that I painted about ten years ago, when I used to live in the Irthing Valley in North Cumbria. I think I was unhappy with it at the time because the clouds at the top were too dark and rough, but now I really like the sense of dramatic light and I'm not so concerned with a 'finished' appearance.

Friday, September 18, 2015

In the Shadow of Foinaven

"Loch Dionard, below Foinaven, watercolour, 24 x 36 cm

For lovers of wild landscapes, there can be few places in Scotland better than North-West Sutherland. The rocks here have been dated to 3 billion years old, and whenever I visit this area I am aware of a sense of both great age and timelessness. A human lifespan is tiny compared with geological time, and so the landscape seems to be unchanging. And yet we can see how the rocks have been thrust up and folded, and then worn away by glaciers, in a process that seems almost incomprehensible. It's a place for allowing the mind to wander and wonder.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Seago Country

"On Hill of Forss" - watercolour - 24 x 35 cm

One of my favourite painters is Edward Seago. He was working around the middle of the Twentieth Century, and many of his paintings were of the landscapes around his home in Norfolk, in the east of England. It's a very flat area, with lots of waterways and lakes, but the main feature of his paintings was the big expanse of sky. Scotland isn't normally thought of as being flat, but Caithness is sometimes known as the "Lowlands beyond the Highlands", and it is predominantly low-lying and open. Like Norfolk, the skies are big and have a wonderful variety of cloud formations.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Falling apart

"Where the Forss Meets the Sea", watercolour, 25 x 36 cm

No, it's not me that's falling apart! It's another old building that I've seen deteriorating over the years. When I first came across it, there were just a couple of holes in the roof and it looked fairly sound. Those holes were enough, though, to allow the wind and rain to get to work. The roof timbers must have rotted, and when they could no longer carry the weight, they collapsed. It's sad to see, but it's a very organic process; almost like natural ageing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Old Farm at Backlass

"Old Farm at Backlass", watercolour, 16 x 26 cm

Rather a stark image, with nothing much to relieve the hard lines of the building. However it does, I think, convey the feeling of the place on a calm, clear day: a huge empty sky, an equally vast empty landscape, and the old buildings seeming incongruous in their isolation, now that they no longer serve a purpose*. Backlass is several miles beyond the end of the public road at Loch More. It is one of the more remote of the old farmsteads, and yet it was still inhabited less than a hundred years ago.