Saturday, August 27, 2011

Moorland Fire

Moorland Fire
Watercolour
25 x 36 cm

There is a definite feeling of approaching autumn now, with some cooler days and more unsettled weather. It hardly seems any time at all since the spring, when there was a long spell of dry weather and the moors were tinder-dry. There were a number of serious fires at the time and several nature reserves were badly damaged. I think they were mostly caused by accident or carelessness this time, but unfortunately there are people who seem to get satisfaction from starting fires deliberately.

The fire in this painting is of a different kind. Every year between, autumn and spring, shooting estates burn off small patches of moorland to leave a patchwork of heather. This encourages the breeding of grouse, with the old growth providing cover and the new shoots providing food. The operation has to be done very carefully, because fires can easily get out of control, and once the underlying peat starts to burn it can burn for days and is very difficult to put out.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Loch an Ruathair

Loch an Ruathair
Watercolour
18 x 25 cm

This is another view in the Forsinard area. The loch is on the edge of the Flows at the head of Strath Kildonan.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forsinard Flows

Forsinard Flows
Watercolour
18 x 26 cm

One of the best places to find out about the Flow Country is the RSPB's 'Forsinard Flows' nature reserve. This extensive area of peat bog is the nearest we get to true wilderness here in Britain. Large parts of it have been planted with commercial forestry in the past, but the RSPB are working to clear the trees and return the bog to something like its natural state.


Click HERE to see a 40 minute film about The Flow Country and its wildlife.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Passing Shower

I was interested in the soft, sinuous lines in this shower cloud, which made it look as though the whole thing was being sucked down into the ground. It was difficult to get the shape of the lines, working wet-into-wet, but I think the overall impression is right.


A Passing Shower
Watercolour
18 x 26 cm


There is an accidental effect in this painting which, once you have seen it, you won't be able to get out of your mind: The white cloud in the centre of the painting looks like a head in profile, The effect is of a figure moving across the sky from right to left, giving the 'Passing Shower' a whole new interpretation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Haymaking

Haymaking at Loch Calder
Watercolour
18 x 25 cm

It's that time of year again, when there is a sudden flurry of activity to get the hay in while the weather is good. I was talking to a farmer the other day and there seems to be a lot of skill and judgement involved in hay-making. Apparently, the grass has to lie in the field for a few days after it has been cut, in order to dry out. If it's left too long though it goes off. There is no problem when the weather is fine and settled, but when some days are wet the whole process becomes a gamble: Whether to bale up the hay today, even though it's still a bit damp, or wait until tomorrow and hope that it doesn't rain. Even a bit of fog overnight can spoil things, so in our changeable climate it must be very difficult.