"Moine House, Tongue"
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.
In contrast to my usual subjects of open landscapes and simple cottages, this was quite challenging. Just fitting the whole thing onto the paper was the first problem, and then I had to get all those turrets and battlements in the right place. I started by lightly indicating the main features to get everything in the right place, but even so there was a bit of rubbing out and redrawing involved!
The painting wasn't easy either, with all the shadows and reflected lights, but by working carefully in layers I think I achieved a sense of solidity and depth.
With this kind of subject there is a danger of concentrating too much on the detail and ending up with a very accurate but rather lifeless painting. I think I managed to keep enough looseness to give the Castle a sense of a moment in time, but the viewer will be able to judge that better than me.
The castle was built in the 16th Century and was originally a tower
house, a type of fortified dwelling common in Scotland at the time.…
One of my favourite views: Ben Loyal from the causeway over the Kyle of Tongue.
The word 'kyle' is used to describe a wide inlet of the sea. Ben Loyal,
with its majestic profile, is sometimes called the 'Queen of Scottish