Sketchbook, pigment ink pen with water-soluble Inktense pencil washes:
I’m getting settled into the new house, a mix of decorative and edible plants are growing in their new, crowded, pots outside, furniture in a functional style is taking form from former pallets and scaffolding planks and this period of very European weather is a welcome contrast to the winter cold and brexit chaos. I can sit outside with coffee and cake and watch a seagull seize the opportunity to help clear one of the other tables.
My painting fallow period is extending a bit, which feels fine. I’m still sorting out a space at home for artwork and am enjoying the three-dimensional process of working with wood to make useful things. In between work and domestic matters I am observing, reflecting, sketching and gathering impressions, ideas and inspiration from my local travels and occasional visits to galleries; two recent exhibitions in Edinburgh have given me much to mull over and aim to experiment with, once the outdoor conditions become relatively less inviting or distracting.
Chris Bushe’s wonderful impressionistic landscapes, on show at the Open Eye Gallery was inspiring. It was recommended to me by one of the staff in the nearby Greyfriars art shop, a rare example of a proper art shop with people who know their products. As soon as I stepped into the gallery I was struck by the scale and texture of his paintings, I felt a simultaneous sense of atmosphere of the open landscape and the almost physical sensation of the painted surface; content and surface, figurative and abstract elements coexisting. This is what I enjoy about painting with acrylic, perhaps I could grow to feel the same about oils with more practice too.
The Royal Scottish Academy open exhibition had a wonderfully broad range of work on show that got me thinking and filling sketchbook pages with thumbnail sketches and notes to browse through and decipher over subsequent coffee.
My cup is empty, the bus departs soon. Next post will have some recent sketches, clover from a fallow field, fixing nutrients for a future harvest.
Happy weekend to you!
I’ve moved, a few miles closer to where I work and from two floors up in a flat back to the earth in a small cottage in an old village that was once a port until land was reclaimed, Dutch-style, and the Forth was pushed back a few hundred metres behind a long dyke.
It’s a good little sun-trap, better than I’d anticipated, and I can even get the internet to work by the cunning use of my mobile in an upstairs window! Now begins the slower task of sorting and purging my stuff and designing storage shelving that fits the quirky dimensions of the new spaces and has some degree of aesthetic quality! I may even be able to start doing some painting again , later in the Summer; for now, I have enough to do in wood. I’m also well into making a dining table, to be followed by benches to go with it, a project I aim to finish in July.
Meantime, we are getting some wonderful weather, especially for Scotland, which makes for very pleasant cycling to work. Yesterday evening, there was a beautiful sky, it looked like the angels had been combing their hair, between heaven and earth, swifts flew and whistled…
Phone charging opportunities are too infrequent at present to keep this blog updated en route so I’ll post something on return when I have mains electricity again.
Meanwhile, I’ve been lucky so far with the weather and winds, I had help uphill this afternoon, after a morning of beautiful cycling but arduous steep pushes on slopes up to 25%, rewarded by a long fast cruise into Scourie and a very pleasant campsite this afternoon.
I’ve made a reasonable number of sketches so far, lots more photos, though today I used the camera much more due to the need for making distance.
Here’s a sample from my first camp near the impressive Stac Pollaidh, a wild camp on a beach by the Loch:
I am travelling northwards on a bumpy train, hoping to make the connection to go further into the north west of Scotland, then it’s pedal power to the camping site, a long day tomorrow.
Getting used to front panniers too. A big difference in the handling of the bike but much better balance of the load too, especially as I am carrying more clothing and food for cold weather.
Passing Birnam Wood, no sign of it moving today, so Dunsinane is safe. Pitlochry soon. My destination is Lairg, beyond Inverness.
A cycle tour begins, no time to sketch today, but that should be easier tomorrow.
Time to sleep a bit.
Safe journeys and a good weekend to you
I returned to mid-Wales, a week ago, to visit my mother, join the celebrations of a good friend’s birthday and meet friends not seen for a long time. It was good.
The surf forecast proved reliable too, though with strong winds that made it hard actually to catch the lovely waves that break here more often than people expect. The water was colder than I’d experienced there for years, about the same as the North Sea!
The next day, before going to visit an artist friend, I sketched the south end of the beach :
I’ve caught more of it than I’d thought at first. something to build upon.
I’ve felt dissatisfied with my art recently, stuck, able to see where I’d like to be but not able to make the moves that actually take me there, or getting bogged down in the details or technicalities and losing the experience that caught me in the first place.
Last week, in a weather imposed break from work – heavy snow led to them shutting down for 3 days – I took a walk through the lovely woods nearby, returning along what remains of the Antonine Wall, trees growing where once were Romans.
A young but twisted birch tree caught my eye, the snow and light giving it a quality of appearance as if drawn. The wind was cold and another blizzard squall beginning. I looked at it, held by the colours and quality of it, took a photo and moved on.
It stayed in my mind, on the way back home.
I thought I’d done enough sketching, a few minutes before, hands cold enough to feel I could use that as an excuse.
Looking back at the photographs, I tried a couple of small sketches. Something was niggling my mind, just before bed, I did another study, pen dipped in ink, scratching the paper, watercolour quickly applied. .. A result I felt happy with, to sleep upon.
Now, this evening, again a little late, before bed, a study of myself in the big mirrors. Drawing pen, quick, then watercolour with a very limited palette. Allowing rather than trying to put into practice what I’d learned from the tree. .
First new step, maybe..