As most people don’t when it starts to get cold and wet, we’ve taken a house on the north-west coast of Scotland, just above the Torridons mountain range, in a place called Gairloch. This unseasonal tourism is motivated by our desire to move here, and our recognition that the short days and harsh conditions of the Scottish winter had to be experienced before such a major upheaval took place. The idea was to try and do our normal activities whilst here, so Penny is at her writing, and I brought four canvases up with me.
As a painter of urban/industrial/political landscapes I have realised there are a number of challenges. Not least of these is what to paint. I recognise that should we move, my subjects will change as the social geography is so different. This is not a real problem, I could paint the same mountain 15 times a day up here, and have 15 significantly different pieces, and the living here will cast light on the relationships between people and landscape that permeate my work. The light at this time of year is strange, giving a muted and almost oppressive feel to the day, and the Sun barely makes it a third of the way up the horizon before sinking wearily down again, it will be fascinating to try and capture this. The colours are familiar, my palette need not drastically change, and the shapes too are as the moors, only morer, as though this was Yorkshire by the sea 🙂 All told these challenges are no barrier, and experiencing them has encouraged my hopes for a future here.
Last harbour is the first piece I have done whilst up here. It is also, at 8″ x 11″, the smallest I have done since being a child. The size was also a challenge, learning to confine my normal expressive sweeps of the knife a few hours of frustration. An experiment in light as much as form and subject, I am fairly happy with it though, and the answers it has supplied to some of my concerns as an artist about moving here 🙂