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Uncharted Territory

Dirlot Gorge
watercolour, 22 x 33 cm

I've discovered a new area to explore, thanks to a neighbour. I was out in Strathmore discussing a painting commission with him and he told me about Dirlot Gorge. He had grown up in the area and offered to show me around, so we had an interesting time exploring his old haunts. There is some wonderful scenery there and I could see several subjects for paintings straight away.

The River Thurso runs through a beautiful gorge, which is a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest'. There is an old chapel, a very ruined castle and some Neolithic stone rows. Apparently there was also a high glacial ridge, but unfortunately that was quarried away in the 1950's.

I went back yesterday to paint the gorge, but the warm weather has brought all the biting insects out. The worst ones, for me, are the clegs. They bite me even through my clothes. I put up with it for as long as I could, but I rushed the painting and ruined it in the end. I painted this version at home from the original.


  1. Oh, I just love this one, but even more, I like the stories you tell about painting your pictures.

  2. Thanks Steven.

    Thanks DD, I'm glad you like the stories. I try to make them interesting so your comments are much appreciated.

  3. I can almost feel the water on my bare feet and, at the same time, I am wondering, 'what is around the bend?'. A lovely painting, Keith. By the way, what are 'clegs'?

  4. I like the atmosphere on this one Keith. I wouldn't have suspected that this was a second attempt if you hadn't mentioned it.

  5. Thanks Diane. Clegs are a type of horse-fly and they have a painful 'bite'.

    Hello Stuart. I always work in the same quick, unfussy way, so that I can hopefully bring some of that outdoor freshness into my studio work.

  6. Keith,

    I like the choice of view, in fact my photograph from my first visit last monday is almost identical.

    Have a look at

    The midges waer bad on monday night, on Friday I escaped their attention till I got down by the river.

  7. Great minds think alike Jamie!
    It's a good composition, though, isn't it? It's nicely framed and the river gives depth.


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