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Showing posts from 2015

Venetian Red

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"The Old Man of Stoer", watercolour, 17 x 14 cm For many years I have used the same palette of colours, mostly based on the Sienna and Umber earth pigments with a few primaries for mixing. However, recently I have been looking at new options to see whether I can make my paintings a bit brighter. One addition I have been considering is a red oxide. In the past I've used Light Red, but it didn't seem to offer much more than I could get with Burnt Sienna. In this painting I used Venetian Red and it seems more useful: it makes a nice muted pink, and a purple/grey with French Ultramarine. It was perfect for the red sandstone rock in this subject.

Back to the Irthing Valley

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"A Break in the Clouds, Irthing Valley", watercolour, 24 x 35 cm I have been clearing out and tidying my studio, and in the process I have been looking through my old paintings. I found this one that I painted about ten years ago, when I used to live in the Irthing Valley in North Cumbria. I think I was unhappy with it at the time because the clouds at the top were too dark and rough, but now I really like the sense of dramatic light and I'm not so concerned with a 'finished' appearance.

Loch Dionard

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Loch Dionard, below Foinaven - watercolour, 24 x 36 cm For lovers of wild landscapes, there can be few places in Scotland better than North-West Sutherland. The rocks here have been dated to 3 billion years old, and whenever I visit this area I am aware of a sense of both great age and timelessness. A human lifespan is tiny compared with geological time, and so the landscape seems to be unchanging. And yet we can see how the rocks have been thrust up and folded, and then worn away by glaciers, in a process that seems almost incomprehensible. It's a place for allowing the mind to wander and wonder. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/uPMb43aRhUu

Seago Country

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"On Hill of Forss" - watercolour - 24 x 35 cm One of my favourite painters is Edward Seago. He was working around the middle of the Twentieth Century, and many of his paintings were of the landscapes around his home in Norfolk, in the east of England. It's a very flat area, with lots of waterways and lakes, but the main feature of his paintings was the big expanse of sky. Scotland isn't normally thought of as being flat, but Caithness is sometimes known as the "Lowlands beyond the Highlands", and it is predominantly low-lying and open. Like Norfolk, the skies are big and have a wonderful variety of cloud formations.

Old Farm at Backlass

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Old Farm at Backlass - watercolour, 16 x 26 cm Backlass is several miles beyond the end of the public road at Loch More. It is one of the more remote of the old farmsteads, and yet it was still inhabited less than a hundred years ago. The buildings may no longer be useful for humans, but they still serve a purpose for wildlife. Deer find shelter from the worst of the weather, and birds roost in the roofs. I saw a Barn Owl fly out of one of the open doorways. It was wonderful to see such a majestic bird gliding over the moorland. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/yth7Eez4Bv52

Sunrise on an Ancient Landscape

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"Sunrise on Stac Pollaidh", watercolour, 16 x 26 cm Stac Pollaidh, or Stack Polly in English, is one of the iconic mountains in Scotland. It's not very impressive in its height, but it's profile and location make it instantly recognisable to lovers of Scottish mountains. It lies in Assynt, which is an area in Sutherland, and also forms part of the North West Highlands Geopark . The rocks here are the oldest in Europe, and they contain some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth. It was in this area that some of the early pioneering work on geology was done by Benjamin Peach and John Horne. Assynt is truly one of the natural treasures of Scotland. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/vZLYfGANM6J2

Grasping the Moment

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"Rocks and Trees, Dunbeath Strath" - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm When I made a sketch of this place, high up Dunbeath Strath, my main impression was one of wildness and tranquillity. Admittedly, there were sheep grazing nearby, and there was a man-made fishing pool in the river below, but these didn't impact much on the sense of isolation. Imagine my surprise on my next visit when I found that a large log cabin had been built there. It appears to be a shelter for fishing parties from the estate that owns the land.

Borgie Falls

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"Borgie Falls" - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm Borgie Falls will be well-known to people who fish on the River Borgie, in Northern Sutherland. It must be exciting to see the salmon, leaping up the waterfall to reach their spawning grounds higher up the river. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/LDdWNw7FMxT2  

Golspie and the Moray Firth

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"Golspie Pier" - watercolour - 15 x 36 cm A view from the beach at Golspie on the east coast of Sutherland. The coastline in the distance is Morayshire, on the other side of the Moray Firth. The rolling hills there are so different from the mountains of Sutherland, and the stretch of water is so big, that sometimes it feels like looking across to a different country. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/m594AoMCUuv

Quarry Buildings

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"Old Quarry Workings, Dirlot" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm Usually I find old buildings more interesting than modern ones: they seem to sit more naturally in the landscape, and they have a sense of history about them. These concrete quarry buildings are probably only about 50 years old. They're not used any more, and I suppose they are beginning to acquire a patina of age, but I think it was all the different angles and shadows that attracted me to this subject.

Halkirk

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"Old Cottage in Halkirk" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm Halkirk is the nearest village in my local area. Most of it was created in the 19th Century, around a bridge on the River Thurso. It was laid out on a grid pattern of houses, with individual plots of land. Many of the original houses have been replaced or modernised, but there are still a few old cottages, which make it possible to imagine how the village would have looked originally. Location - https://goo.gl/maps/wNmzoDzRYjQ2