Monday, July 30, 2012

A Mountain for All Tastes

Ben Nevis from the West
25 x 36 cm

I've mentioned before how Ben Nevis has two distinct characters, making it seem very different depending on which way it is approached. The southern side has a rounded profile with steep slopes. Most visitors climb the mountain from this side by a zigzag path called the "Pony Track". It was made at the end of the Nineteenth Century when a weather observatory was built at the summit. For a number of years men were stationed there permanently to make recordings. It must have been a tough assignment in bad weather. The building even had to be made taller so that it wasn't buried under the snow in winter.

Although the Pony Track is steep in some places, it is a fairly easy route and makes the mountain seem deceptively benign. However the approach from the north reveals a different prospect. A glacier, like a gigantic ice-cream scoop, has carved away the side of the mountain, leaving 600 metre high cliffs. They are popular with climbers and in the winter they provide some challenging ice-climbing routes. However there is also the risk of avalanches from the snow cornices which form at the top of the cliffs. The only walking route from the north is by a narrow, precipitous ridge. Such dramatic conditions are fitting for the highest mountain in Britain.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The First Crop

The First Crop
18 x 36 cm

For weeks we had fairly dry weather when more southerly parts of Britain were having torrential rain. It was cold though, so the grass was growing slowly in the fields. Now we have warmer weather but it has turned wet as well, so farmers are held up with the hay-making. A few fields have been cut for silage but a dry spell will be needed for a hay crop.

Harvesting exposes the fresh new shoots and at this time of year there is a patchwork of of bright yellow-green fields.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Free Expression

A Mountain Pass
22 x 16 cm

In all forms of creativity I think we probably do some of our best work when we don't think about it too much. Sometimes our rational minds get in the way. The other day, as I was trying out a new brush on a scrap of paper, I began to see a picture emerging so I decided to continue with it. I didn't know how it was going to develop and I was just making marks without thinking too much. The only bit of real thought involved was the adding of a bird in the sky to give a sense of scale and life. The result, I feel, was a little gem of a painting. Maybe the composition isn't perfect, but there is a feeling of freshness in it which I like.