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Showing posts from 2014

The End of Autumn

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"Strath Kildonan in Autumn" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm The calm sunny weather we had for much of the autumn seems to have ended now. Storms are on the way with icy winds, so scenes like this may be replaced with snow soon.

The value of keeping sketchbooks

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Over the years I have built up a large collection of sketchbooks. Occasionally I look back through them, enjoying the flood of memories that come to me, as well as seeing how my sketching has developed. They are also a good source of fresh material for studio work, when my recent sketches don't inspire me. Looking at some sketchbooks from 25 years ago, I found the sketch below, from the time that I spent on the Isle of Arran. I could still remember the colour scheme, so I decided to try a painting of it. Pencil sketch made in Glen Catacol, Isle of Arran 'Glen Catacol, Arran' - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm The crag on the left is called 'Creag na h'Iolaire', which means 'Crag of the Eagle', so I couldn't resist putting in an eagle soaring above the glen. It was useful for adding interest and balance anyhow. After I finished the painting, I remembered that I had made a watercolour about the same time as the sketch. I managed to find an

Scrabster Ice Quay

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"The Ice Quay at Scrabster" - watercolour - 13 x 18 cm A while ago I posted a painting of a 19th Century ice-house. This is a small watercolour of the modern equivalent, at Scrabster. A refrigeration plant produces ice in industrial qualities, which is piped into fishing boats moored at the quay alongside.

Syre Church, a Tin Tabernacle

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"Syre Church" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm Syre Church, a small church in Strathnaver. It was built in the late 19th Century by the Free Church, a group which broke away from the established church in protest against the control of rich landowners. The building is of a type known as “tin tabernacles”. These were pre-fabricated structures, made of corrugated iron. They were quick and easy to construct and were often used by non-conformists. They also make attractive subjects for artists!

The Great Herdsman

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"Buachaille Etive Mòr" - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm This mountain stands at the entrance to Glencoe and at the head of Glen Etive. It looks out over the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor and dominates the view for miles. It is a well-known landmark to anyone travelling north on the road to Fort William. The name, Buachaille Etive Mòr, means "The Great Herdsman of Etive", and it has a sister peak called Buachaille Etive Beag, or "The Little Herdsman of Etive". Location - https://goo.gl/maps/zLRdrr7p8Xo  

Ice House

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"Ice House at Wester Haven" - watercolour - 13 x 18 cm Before the invention of refrigeration, using ice for food-preservation meant that it had to be stored in some way. Ice houses are a common feature of the harbours around the coast of Caithness. They are vaulted stone buildings, set partly into banks or hillsides, and with turf roofs for insulation. In the winter ice was collected from lochs and rivers and put into the buildings through a hole a the top. Then in the summer it was taken out through a door at the front and used to pack around crates of fish for transportation. My painting is of a good example at the harbour of Wester Haven, below the Castle of Mey. I painted this on Bockingford Eggshell tinted paper. It has a subtle green tint and gives a cool undertone to the watercolour. I don't use tinted papers very often, but they can be useful sometimes. This particular paper is produced in Cream, Grey, Eggshell, Blue and Oatmeal.

Moorland Burning

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"A Hill on Fire" - watercolour -- 16 x 26 cm When I looked out of the window the other day, I saw this plume of smoke rising from the hill across the loch. It looked dramatic and I thought it would make an interesting subject, so I decided to paint it there and then. I wasn't sure how long the effect would last, so I decided not to do any drawing; I just wet a block of paper all over and floated in various colours. As the paper dried, I gradually defined some of the forms until I had built up a soft-edged impression of the subject. Then I left it to dry and finished the harder-edged areas later. I don't know whether this fire was accidental or deliberate. The moors are managed with controlled burning at this time of year, known locally as 'Muirburn'. The mature heather is burned off to leave tender new growth for the grouse to feed on. However we also get wildfires in dry periods, and it has been fairly dry until recently.

The Far North Line

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"A Line-man's Hut, Kinbrace" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm The Far North Line must be one of the finest railway journeys in Great Britain, perhaps even in Europe. Parts of it travel along a beautiful coastline, while other sections have mountainous scenery and wooded valleys. Finally there is the Flow Country, with its big, open landscapes. Because it isn't a fast, busy line, it hasn't had to be upgraded very much, so it still has a feel of former times. Many of the stations still have their 19th Century architecture, and there are other old structures beside the track, like the line-man’s hut in the painting above. It would have been used by the man who was responsible for checking and maintaining that section of the line.