Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heading for the Hills

Although it is part of Highland Region, Caithness is actually a low-lying, predominantly agricultural area. However the southern part of the county does have a small range of mountains, so when I feel the need for a more vertical landscape this is where I often go.
The main mountain in the range is Morven, and getting to it involves a long walk from the end of the public road. An estate track leads to an abandoned farmstead and from there an indistinct path leads across the moor to the foot of the mountain.
Although I love hill-walking, as an artist I often find that the best subjects are to be found in the valleys, where the mountains make a dramatic backdrop. This subject is a good example: The old building with Morven towering over it made a wonderful composition.


At the Foot of Morven
Watercolour, 10 x 14 inches

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Flow Country Ruin

One of the things I love about where I live is that it is right on the edge of The Flow Country, the largest area of blanket bog in Europe. On one side I have agricultural land, with fields full of lambs at the moment, but on the other I look out over miles of empty wilderness.
The landscape is mostly uninhabited now, but in the past there were small crofts scattered throughout the area. They usually consisted of a small cottage, with maybe only two or three rooms, a few stone outbuildings and a small area of fields, which had been cleared and maintained through hard labour. Life must have been tough for the inhabitants of these places, where the nearest community of any size might be several hours away, if they had a horse, and much more on foot.

On a recent walk out over the moors I passed several ruined farmsteads. The only inhabitants now are birds of prey and a few sheep. On a day when the weather is good they are nice places to stop and listen to the silence and experience the calmness. I didn't want to carry all my painting equipment with me, so I made some pencil sketches instead. This picture was painted later from one of them.


A Flow Country Ruin
Watercolour, 10 x 14 inches