It has been a wild week: low cloud, strong to gale force winds, regular bands of rain or slushy snow, punctuated by brilliant sparkling sunshine and, on the last day, luminous rainbows framing mountains that I have not made time to climb on this journey.
On the way north, I caught the last ferry of the day, just, to the isle of Mull, which was hiding under a thick grey winter blanket with a cold wind raising a small choppy swell.
I have achieved all but two of the main objectives that I had for this half-term break. I have spent time with friends not seen for too long, explored some new places, slept under stars and stormy nights in my oldest tent and on a boat, immersed myself briefly in the sea and made a number of paint sketches on most days. I had intended to paint more outside, but the general wetness of everything meant that the car was my main studio, if only to prevent the sketchbook from disintegrating.
Inspired by a recent presentation to the Wolverhampton Society of Artists, I had bought a brown card sketch book to experiment with painting quickly on a nearly mid-toned ground. I have enjoyed the results, in part because I tried to loosen up my painting and catch impressions rather than details.
At one place, the enigmatic Clava Cairns near Culloden, I felt a figurative sketch wouldn’t work. Instead I followed a more expressive approach, a response to what I perceived in the place: the sense of the geographical location, the feeling of a flow of something through the site, the sense of presence I felt standing near some of the cairns and upright stones.
I’ve been able to get used to using my reduced palette of acrylics in the outdoors or in the car, refinishing the logistics of deploying and stowing paints, water and a brush or two; all good practice for a possible trip further afield around Easter.