Busy August

Skye from Gairloch

Skye from Gairloch

Only half way through the month and I have so much on. Got back from the Scottich Highlands at the end of July, after a week of fanastic sunshine while it rained in most of the rest of the UK 🙂 This painting of the North-Eastern coast of Skye was done from a plein air paint sketch I did standing outside our tent at Big Sands in Gairloch, a lovely place, and one we hope to move too.

Sadly, I got back to discover that we have lost our gallery, Gage. This has been an integral part of our studio collective for 5 years, but now the landlord has taken it back for redevelopment – the harsh reality of cheap rents in an emerging area 😦  I am searching for a suitable replacement for the gallery, and attached arts education space, but there is a shortage of run down industrial property in the area, so we may have to move.

My recent show, For Those In Peril.. was a success, and I am looking for another venue to house it. I’ve got some interest, so I hope to be able to share some more good news with you soon (fingers crossed). Meanwhile I’m busy producing work to fill my stall in our marquee at Sheffeld’s Art In The Gardens event. This takes place over the 1st – 3rd September in the Botanical Gardens, and is always a fun event. This year I will be doing a series of landscapes, and Skye from Gairloch is the first of these. In addition I’m organising a pop-up art show to help promote a local club, to coincide with Nether Edge Farmers Market on the 17th September, and then helping put together the KIAC stall at Kelham Island Industrial Museums ‘Down By The River’ event on September 24th. And I think August is busy 🙂

 

 

 

Advertisements

Wave

Wave

Wave

We’ve been in the highlands of Scotland for a fortnight now. A late holiday timed to give us a feel for the light, people and weather up here in the off-season, as we consider moving here permanently some time in the next three years.

The ever changing light and much varied cloud cover through the last week led me to the conclusion that I needed to start my Scottish journey by resolving the technical challenges that painting in the Scottish Highlands presents at this time of year. To explore these I have focused on my normal landscape style, albeit on very small canvasses, and principally concentrated on trying to represent the lighting effects.

For an artist used to working in a semi-abstract style, producing composites in a closed studio, this has been an interesting experience. Whilst light is important in my work, my style means that I can simply produce appropriate lighting effects on the canvas. Light is not the subject, nor do I normally rely on it for atmosphere. Stepping out of my comfort zone by changing both subject and style and focusing on the technical aspects of painting has been a struggle at times. I’ve been working in a front room with large windows, facing the sea, and the northern edge of the Torridons. A lot of what I’ve painted has been what I can see from my painting position – though I have introduced some elements for both dramatic effect and technical reasons. Once again this is not my normal approach, in fact the only things that have remained constant have been the palette knife and the colours I’ve used. The skyscape and consequently light have been changing by the minute, which has added enormously to the challenges and increased my admiration for the technical excellence displayed by painters of straight landscapes.

Wave is also another small piece. In fact at 24 x 18cm even smaller than Last harbour. This has also been a challenge, I could fit 25 paintings this size into my average canvas area. The largest piece I’ve done up here has been 30 x 24cm (Dark clouds looming – click Here). I have used the same knives that I would use for a painting 20 times the size, and learning to adjust my knife control to avoid smudging outside of the immediate painting area has been hair tearing fun.

Final thoughts on the journey. As a painter it’s been challenging, frustrating, inspiring and delightful in equal measure. Late November is not a time for vivid colours. We’ve had one good sunset and a couple of clear nights, both of these would have been interesting to paint, but that will have to wait. Have I found enough to sustain me as an artist? I think so, though it is only by living here that I will be able to introduce the social commentary that is an essential component of my practice. Of one thing I’m sure though. I will be bringing back with me a new perspective on painting, and lots of ideas about how I will develop my work. I’m happy, and I hope you have enjoyed the fruits of my labour 😉

 

 

Last harbour

Last harbour

Last harbour

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 🙂