My latest post on A Picture of Northern Scotland is about Shelter Stone Crag in the Cairngorm Mountains. It is named after a massive boulder that has a large cavity beneath it, providing an overnight shelter for travellers in this remote area.
It's been quite a long time since I've posted anything here, there's just so much to occupy my time on the internet these days. I now have a couple of Google+ collections: "A Picture of Northern Scotland", where I post paintings of landmark locations with a bit of background information, and "Keith Tilley Watercolours", where I post some of my latest work as I produce it. Although I don't like Facebook most people seem to be active there at the moment, so I post there regularly as well and it has led to a few sales.
In the real world, I have been painting more small pieces recently. They are proving to be quite popular, partly I think because they are lower-priced, but also because they make good presents, especially at this time of year. Below are some examples. They are all watercolours and are 13 x 18 cm or 5 x 7 inches.
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 300gsm Rough paper
25 x 36 cm
West of Tongue, in Sutherland, there is a large peat bog called The Moine, which stretches all the way over to the next valley. At more-or-less the highest point there is a ruined building, called Moine House, which I have always found very striking. It is a wild and lonely spot and it has a background of dramatic mountains. I assumed that it was an old drovers' inn, but a plaque* on the wall tells the story of how it was erected as a refuge for travellers.
Autumn Sunshine on Loch Naver, watercolour, 16 x 26 cm
Lovely Loch Naver lies in the heart of the vast emptiness of Sutherland. A narrow winding road follows the northern shore, fringed with birch trees and grassy meadows. On the southern side the loch is dominated by the mountain, Ben Klibreck, one of Scotlands 'Munros' (mountains over 3,000 ft or 910 m). On a sunny autumn day, with the glowing birch trees, the blue of the water and the backdrop of rich moorland colours, it is just perfect.
I have just finished a commissioned painting which was challenging, and different from my usual subject matter. Essentially, it was a portrait of a ship which the client had a family connection with. I was provided with an image of a 19th Century painting and given a free hand to create my own interpretation of it - http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/schooner-snaefell.
"A Defended Coast, Keiss", watercolour, 25 x 36 cm
This scene interested me because of the time-scale represented by the different buildings. The distant castle was built around the beginning of the Seventeenth Century, whereas the foreground structure is a pillbox gun emplacement from World War II. In fact there is even more history covered: although they don't appear in the view, two brochs*, take us back to before 100 AD.
A recent commission, for friends to give to a son who has moved to the other side of the World. I enjoyed painting this one, with its contrast of strong sunlight and shade. I had to paint the dogs from memory, but I think they made all the difference to the final result.
This was one of those subjects that turn up by chance sometimes. I had been out sketching this view and was walking back, when a post van passed me. I had seen him coming across the moor in the distance, and the striking colour of the vehicle in the vast, empty, landscape gave me the idea for an unusual painting. My own van happens to be the same make and model, so I was able to use that to get a drawing at the right angle. Then I just had to combine my sketches into one drawing to paint from.
In order to paint in the impressionistic style of watercolours that I prefer, a bold and confident approach is required. This causes problems for beginners, and even experienced painters if they have a break from working. Worrying too much about the process can lead to a cautious approach, which often produces a stiff and uninspired watercolour.