Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Cotton Grass

"Sunlight and Cotton Grass" - watercolour - 18 x 26 cm


More cotton grass; at the southern end of Loch Calder. It's a popular place with fishermen, but it also has an interesting mix of marshland and heather moorland. Brawlbin Farm sits on the edge of it all.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cotton Grass

"Morven and Cotton Grass" - watercolour - 19 x 29 cm

It was noticeable this year that there was a lot of cotton grass on the moors. There was more than I have seen in recent years, so presumably it had something to do with the late spring. Whatever the reason, some areas were a sea of white fluffy tufts, looking almost like a return to the snow of winter. Most of it is disappearing now though, to be replaced with the purple flowers of the heather.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Sea Caves

"Sea Cave at Holborn Head" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm


I think most people probably find caves interesting: a primordial fascination with the feeling of a portal to an unseen world. If this applies to a cave on land, it must be even more the case for the kind of sea cave which can only be reached by boat. There is no way of knowing, from dry land, what lies beyond the entrance: how far it extends or whether it leads to a vast cavern. We can watch the waves wash in and disappear into the depths, maybe listen to the crashing sounds from within, and then see the resulting surf wash out again. Sea birds also, come and go from their roosts high up in the cave, inhabiting a world we can never be part of; a world we can only try to imagine.
Perhaps the greatest attraction of caves is the way that they allow our imaginations to play.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Prisoners of Progress

The Remoteness of the Modern World" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm

I think this is my favourite of the many ruined cottages scattered throughout the Flow Country. It has a wonderful position on top of a hill, with views that stretch for many miles. It also had a colourful red tin roof, but a lot of it has been stripped away by the wind now. Once the roof has gone, and the weather can get in, these ruins soon start to fall down.
The title of the painting comes from my thoughts as I looked at the ruin: I thought about how no-one would ever live there again. There is no electricity or running water and the nearest tarmac road is several miles away, so it would be considered very remote now. However, not so long ago there was a real community in this area, and I don't think they would have felt so isolated. This was their world and the place where they lived out their lives. They would have been largely self-sufficient, but I expect they got some of their supplies from passing pedlars. It would probably have taken all day to get to the nearest shop and get back home again. One of their descendants told me that the school teacher would come and stay for a few days and then move on to the next household. The local church minister would travel around in a similar way, although apparently they would often hide when they saw him coming!
We see these places as remote today, but perhaps we build our own prisons.