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Showing posts from May, 2013

Berriedale Water

"Bridge on Berriedale Water" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm


I always enjoy going down to the south of the county, because the landscape is so different. Where I live is an area of farmland bordering the boggy moorland of the Flow Country. It is also fairly flat. However, the south of Caithness is fringed by mountains and deep glens, and seems to have more in common with Sutherland.
Berriedale Water cuts its way through the hills for seven miles on a winding course, providing many dramatic views. At one point it runs through a narrow gorge and a bridge has been built across the gap. Its an interesting experience to cross the swaying structure, high above the rocks in the river bed below!
I had intended to do another tutorial, but I forgot to take the photographs during the painting. This was the first stage of wet-into-wet washes.



Bone Caves

Further south from Smoo Cave, which I wrote about recently, there is another limestone cave system near Inchnadamph. The Bone Caves are a group of four caves, which were probably formed at the end of the last Ice Age by melting ice. Excavations have revealed the bones of various animals, including Lynx; Brown Bear; Arctic Fox; Reindeer; and even a Polar Bear. Human skeletons were also found, dating from earlier than 2,000 BC.
Materials used:
Bockingford Rough paper, 300 gsm
Rembrandt Artists' Watercolours -
Raw Sienna
Raw Umber
Burnt Sienna
French Ultramarine
Pthalo Green

Stage 1
I made a brief drawing with a 2B pencil to give me some guidelines to work to. Then I dampened the paper all over and applied weak washes, letting them run together without worrying too much about keeping to the pencil lines.

The colours used were French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna for the grey; Burnt Sienna with a little French Ultramarine for the brown; and Raw Umber and Pthalo Green for the greens.

I …

Latheron Art Show

"A Moorland Farmhouse" - watercolour - 18 x 26 cm


I will be exhibiting at the Latheron Art Show on the 25th, 26th and 27th May.

The Tax Collector and the Tower House

"Freswick House" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm

Freswick House is one of the notable old buildings of Caithness. It was built on the site of a Viking stronghold. Originally called Freswick Castle, it was added to and improved over the years and later became Freswick Tower or Freswick House.
There is an amusing story about a dispute over Window Tax. This tax was introduced in the Eighteenth Century, and was based on the number of windows in a property. Owners often got around it by blocking up some of the windows, and these can still be seen in old houses today. William Sinclair was the owner of Freswick House at the time, and apparently he was in constant dispute with the Window Tax collector. He may have had some justification, because on different occasions the official count of the number of windows seems to have varied between 28; 31; 47 and 34! Maybe he kept blocking up and unblocking windows, but whatever the reason, he seems to have avoided paying the tax in his lifetime. 

Smoo Cave

"Smoo Cave" - watercolour - 18 x 26 cm

Smoo Cave, at Durness in the far North-west of Sutherland, is one the the main tourist attractions of the area. The cave was formed by the action of water dissolving the limestone rocks, leaving a series of chambers and underground waterfalls. Visitors can take a boat trip into the depths of the cavern.
Humans have been drawn to the cave from the earliest times: A midden in the entrance has been excavated and shows evidence of occupation from the Mesolithic Period through to the Iron Age. Other deposits indicate use of the cave in the Norse period. I'm sure it has continued to provide a shelter or hide-out at later times and has probably been used as a store more recently.
As well as the main cave, there are several smaller caves which may at one time have been part of one large cave system. There may still be other caves and passages, as yet undiscovered underground.