Wednesday, August 26, 2009

John O'Groats

These are two small watercolours I've just painted to re-stock a local gallery.


John O'Groats
Watercolour, 18 x 25.5 cm



The Castle of Mey - Rain Shower
Watercolour, 18 x 25.5 cm

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Painting Equipment

A friend was asking today about my equipment for painting outdoors, so I thought I would show my set-up here.

I use a lightweight watercolour box, into which I squeeze tube colours. I have a selection of brushes for different sizes of paintings. I usually only use one or two. I like to paint standing up, so I use a lightweight easel. This is made up from a camera tripod and a board, with a special plate for attaching it to the tripod. I often have my paper taped onto a thin piece of MDF or card, so that it is easier to handle in the wind. I then clip this watercolour board to the board on my easel.

If I am walking a long way I usually leave the easel behind to save weight. In that case I sit on the ground to paint. I might even fill my paintbox before I go out and leave the tubes behind.




Plate for attaching to tripod


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Painting the Lairig Ghru

The Lairig Ghru
Acrylic on board
8 x 10 inches, 20 x 25.5 cm


This is an acrylic painting of the Lairig Ghru done from the sketches and photographs I took on my recent trip to the Cairngorms.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cliffs at Peedie Sands

Cliffs at Peedie Sands
Watercolour, 32 x 23 cm


We've had some sunny weather here again recently and the bright light has made the landscape look a bit washed-out. I went to the coast, looking for some cliffs with their strong shadows, and found these at Peedie Sands. The sandstone has some nice colours and has been worn away by the sea to create interesting shapes.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Altnabreac

Water Tower at Altnabreac
Watercolour, 16 x 24 cm


Altnabreac must be one of the most remote railway stations in the UK. It is 4 miles from the end of the nearest public road and 15 miles from the nearest village with shops etc. There are only a couple of houses and all around is a large area of forestry plantations and peat bogs. Only two or three trains pass in each direction per day, I think, and it's mostly used by hikers.



Altnabreac Station


The Road from Altnabreac

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Loch Avon

My final walk in the Cairngorms took me over the high mountains and down to Loch Avon.

I set off from the Ski-centre car park and passed below the Northern Corries on a good path.

Coire an t-Sneachda


After an easy climb I reached the slopes of Cairn Lochan and I stopped to sketch the view. The wind was strong at this elevation and I had to hang on to all my materials to stop them blowing away. At this point I was high above the top of the Lairig Ghru, where I had been sketching a few days before.

The Devil's Point from Cairn Lochan



A little further round the hill I ran into a group of friendly reindeer. I saw them coming towards me and waited to see what they would do. I thought they would keep away, but they came right up to me and grazed quietly beside me.





From this point the route would be much rougher. I was going down Coire Domhain to Loch Avon. The path was wet and stony and any false step could result in a nasty fall. I tried not to be distracted by the view across to the Avon Slabs.

Carn Etchachan and Coire Domhain


The Avon Slabs


Loch Avon is in a remote and lonely spot in the middle of the Cairngorms. One of its best-known features is the Shelter Stone. At some point in the distant past, a huge boulder fell from the crag above and landed in such a way that it left a space underneath. Here five or six people can shelter and it has been used as a refuge by travellers throughout history.


The Shelter Stone



As I settled down to sketch Shelter Stone Crag, the wind seemed even stronger than it had up on top. The resulting drawing was very rough, but it should be good enough to remind me how it felt to be in that place when I come to paint it later.

Shelter Stone Crag



I now had an equally steep route back up onto the plateau, but going up was much easier than coming down.

Coire Raibeirt


Having reached the top I stopped to rest and sketch the dramatic view across to Cairn lochan. There was then just an easy descent down to the car park, and the end of a wonderful day among some of Scotland's highest mountains.


Cairn Lochan

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Glenmore Forest

The next day in The Cairngorms was wet, and the clouds were down over the hills, so I decided to do a low-level walk. As well as dramatic mountains the area also has some wonderful old pine forests, which are remnants of the Caledonian Forest that once covered large parts of Scotland. A forest walk is ideal for a wet day, with the trees providing some shelter and the mist creating interesting backgrounds.

I started from Glenmore, a popular centre for Cairngorm activities, and followed the Allt Mor which flows down from the Northern Corries into Loch Morlich.


The Allt Mòr


After several miles of winding paths through the forest, where I met only a few other people, I came to Ryvoan Bothy. This was originally an 18th Century croft house, but is now maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association as a shelter for hikers. I just about finished sketching before it starting raining heavily.


Ryvoan Bothy



Ryvoan Bothy



On the way back I managed to get one more sketch of the forest when the rain eased off a bit.


The Glenmore Forest
Water-soluble graphite pencils