Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Things Go Right

Boathouses on Loch Scye
Watercolour
16 x 26 cm

Some people like to really work at their watercolours; sponging, scraping, scratching, moving paint around, until they have the effect that they want. I have what I feel is a purer approach, reminiscent of Oriental painting perhaps. I like to lay on the washes as cleanly and simply as possible, retaining their transparency and only over-painting where necessary. There are fewer opportunities for correcting mistakes with this method, so not every painting is successful, but when things go right there is a beautiful glow from the light reflecting through the paint, almost like the effect of a stained-glass window.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Forgotten Roads

 
Bridge over Torran Water
Watercolour
25 x 36 cm

This bridge is on a track that leads out to Loch Caluim, a remote loch in the Flow Country. While I was searching for information about other routes, I discovered that this one is an ancient road linking Caithness with Sutherland. It was known as the Ca na Catanach. I'm tempted to try to walk the whole length of it, but it's hard to see on the ground in places now and conifer plantations cover other parts. I find these old roads fascinating, with their echoes of a forgotten world. Many are little more than overgrown paths now, but in previous centuries they must have been the main highways between communities.
The Road to Loch Caluim
Watercolour
25 x 36 cm


More information on Heritage paths of Scotland.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Royal Invitation

I had an exciting day last weekend. I had a phone call from The Castle of Mey to say that The Prince of Wales would like to see me. They said that he liked my paintings and he would be interested in seeing any that I had, framed or unframed. I wasn't sure how many to take, so I loaded up the van with as many as I could manage and drove over there.

When I got there I was directed through the police cordon and met, at the gate, by Prince Charles's equerry. He took a handful of paintings from me and led me through passages and up winding stairs to the private rooms, where HRH was waiting. He was very friendly and informal and we were soon spreading paintings all round the room on the furniture. He asked questions about some of them and we talked a bit about painting (he paints as well when he can). Then he said that he liked the one that he bought last year and would like to buy another. He chose this one of 'Peedie Sands', which I've shown here before. I think he liked the way that I had scratched out the seagulls against the cliff.


Cliffs at Peedie Sands
Watercolour
32 x 23 cm


It was all over fairly quickly, because I think he was due to leave to travel south to Balmoral. I think he had just managed to find the time to see me, but I feel very honoured that he thought of me when he has such a busy schedule.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Up in the Clouds on Foinaven

I went for a two-day walk over Foinaven recently. I didn't have time for sketching and the midges were too bad to stay in one place for long, so I only have photographs and memories from the trip. The weather wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, so I was in cloud for much of the time. I'll definitely go back in better conditions sometime.


 The walk in along Strath Dionard.


Loch Dionard.

It soon got very boggy.


Midges!! I'm glad I remembered to take gloves, even though it's summer.


A close look at midges!


There were some good examples of the amazing geology of the area.


Getting up into the mountains now.


Deer. I told them to keep their heads down now that the shooting season has started!


Up on the ridge.

Lord Reay's Seat.


A mountain shelter on Cadha na Beucaich.


Still more climbing to do.


The cloud cleared for some views down into Coire na Lurgainn.


Heating soup on the summit.


Off the mountain and across the moors.


The Kyle of Durness.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Doocot at Westerdale

Doocot at Westerdale
Watercolour
25 x 36 cm

Another subject beside the river at Westerdale. This one is a doocot (dovecot) belonging to Dale House. Doocots are common throughout Scotland in the grounds of big houses. They housed doves, which were used for food and for their eggs.