~ Experiences, Projects & Jottings of Painter Jan Clizer, Specialist Painter of Scottish & Celtic Music Subject Matter ~

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Calling Scotland........

I painted the Pennan callbox today! A small thing, I know, but to many of us, Scots or no, it’s a callbox of some significance!

Pennan was a sleepy village and well kept Scottish secret until writer Bill Forsyth wrote and directed 1983 film Local Hero starring Burt Lancaster, Fulton Mackay, Denis Lawson, Peter Reigert, Rikki Fulton, Jenny Seagrove and Jennifer Black. Lovely theme music is by one of my fav’s, Mark Knopfler (remember Princess Bride?) Local Hero told the story of an oil tycoon with a penchant for astronomy who sends a representative to Pennan to buy up property for an oil refinery. The usual ‘big money talks’ scenario doesn’t work with ALL the locals, specifically a curmudgeonly character living on the beach, & plans, minds & hearts are altered as the spell of the village & it’s stunning surroundings does it’s work. The ’08 Glasgow Film Festival held a special screening marking Local Hero’s 25th anniversary.

Details of Pennan lent much character to the film, particularly the traditional red BT call box which Mac the rep used each night to phone oil baron Happer with his report. The Pennan Inn, one of the smallest bars in Scotland, was also a highlight! There was no workable phone box before the film was shot. Pennan’s first box was a movable prop placed to appear nearer the pier! Visitors, movie buffs and locals campaigned successfully to BT to install a genuine functional red call box. It is the most called box in Scotland. BT have traced these back to tourists phoning a relative and asking them to ring back! Now a listed building, the box sports paint specially designed for oil rigs, providing protection for metal work from the harsh North Sea and winds.

That said, maybe I can get on with the painting – a 4’ landscape of the village – a bit of a challenge for one who revels in myopic studies of rust…hmmm…..wonder what the callbox would look like if they hadn’t used that industrial strength paint…….???

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Studying Rust

Rusty metalwork is to me like candy to a toddler – just can’t get enough! The COLOURS!! Especially near salt water – it seems to add a particularly kaleidoscopic quality to the array of colour found in rust & decaying metal. I’d like to do an entire series on rusted objects, which, hmm, seems to surreptitiously be materializing…..rusted boat hulls & parts, rusty locks, eroded doorknockers….! Technorati Profile

This ‘gorgeous’ padlock & hasp secures a yellow-painted door on the High Street in Montrose, a seacoast town full of history and interesting wee shops. The light is often diffused & softened in Scotland, no matter the time of day, so strong contrasts of darks & lights using shadow is not as much of an issue as in clearer atmospheres. This offers the enjoyable challenge of speaking through subtlety, creating depth with an emphasis on value & warm/cool colour contrasts. Fun!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Reunion Painter-Style

Funny how you put hours into a painting, focusing, observing, unfocusing, choosing colours, losing patience, beginning again – hoping to sell the finished product, hoping it doesn’t sell because you LIKE it, then actually MISSING it once it’s out of the studio! Was in my fav of CDA’s coffeeshops yesterday, Bella Rose between 2nd & Sherman, who kindly host a large wall of my work, and looking at the paintings was like getting reacquainted with old friends!! Think I’m losing the plot!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Celtic Music Festival Blues

It’s Folk Festival time in Stonehaven next weekend – I imagine most of the usual charismatic suspects plus a whole lot of new faces will be attending, with wee sessions going on ‘roon’ the toon’ and harbourside…. the eyes water as I think of the fun I’ve had trying to keep up with hard-driving tunes and jam-packed time schedules, so as not to miss a performance or chance to sit in on a ‘crackin’ session!’ Am very thankful for help staying focused on the positive in a wee monthly gig downtown at Art Spirit entertaining Artwalk attendees – a brilliant opportunity for exposure for my work and to share some of my favourite tunes.

Music-oriented as I am, I’ve done a small series of paintings celebrating Celtic music, my long-suffering fiddle being the subject! It’s a Sanctus Serafini copy, ca. 1823 (I know, by rights I should’ve painted a fiddle made by a Scots luthier, but had none handy here in Idaho!) By appearance it’s either been well-loved, or had rather a hard life depending on one’s viewpoint, having undergone some extensive reparations. Plays a fine tune, though, depending on the player(!), & is a treasured companion.

The images are meant to go beyond the music, to invite the viewer into a more intimate aspect of a musician’s experience, the sheer pleasure of the beauty and form of our instruments. Thus, you see the fiddle depicted in multiple perspectives and angles one wouldn’t normally see unless working with the instrument personally. I created the series in a more anal phase of my painting career, trying to get every dot of paint just in the right spot. The dark backgrounds suggest our murky past – for the most part undefined and undiscernable, yet full of everything (all colours combined makes murk!) that makes Celtic culture what it is today. Celtic knotwork, composed of several colours (cultures) and populated with many, many ‘wee blobs’ (people) is placed behind each fiddle image to represent a flexible, yet extremely strong grounding in the music and heritage of the Celtic countries.

Hieland Coos, or Just Plain Great Hairy Beasties

They’ve got to be related to wooly mammoths somewhere down the line. And the Irish strain of them at that, masses of red hair & all. I’ve rather enjoyed the company of cattle, having had the opportunity to work at length around them in my college days. Peaceful creatures for the most part – pleasant, plodding munchers turning vegetable matter into animal protein. I find Highlanders even more appealing with their thick coats, all but reminding one of teddy bears sporting horns for play. And the long shaggy fringe hiding their big, glossy dark eyes – well, aye – I know it’s got to have evolved to help fend off midgies, but it just adds to their overall fuzziness, & makes you just want to hop the fence & give a good scratch behind their ears & make friends!

This painting was inspired by a pair of great bullocks lazing on Nover Estate north of Dingwall in summer. The closer animal struck me as rather statuesque reclining in the lush grass, appearing to have taken great care to distribute his bulk evenly for balance and appearance’s sake to the benefit of passers-by (although it was on the quiet lane of a large estate). The more distant fellow reminded me of a lump. Melted butter, but red-brown. Caramelized. But a lump. Must’ve been hot out there in the sun with all that hair. I enjoyed the challenge of describing the ‘lump’ & the ‘statue,’ adjusting colours and values just enough to give the impression of a hot summer day and the Highlanders taking their ease.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not Just Any Cat

Still drying is a wee painting of Sam, one of my favourite cat pals in Scotland, formerly of a busy, kindly family who takes in stray cats and painters (!) in the tiny community of Tore on the Black Isle, Ross-shire. I’ve heard this spring he’s no more to be seen sleuthing around the big Farm House on Redcastle Estate. Living a charmed rural life of freedom and independence, he was a charmer himself, sticking like GLUE when he decided yours was the lucky lap he was going to occupy for a good cuddle! I chose to paint him in one of his most favoured spots, a kitchen chair on the Aga side of the big pine trestle table, ostensibly snoozing in the warmth, but on closer inspection keeping a weather eye out for all activity that had to do with food!

Although I’ve limited experience painting animals, it was a joy to watch him come life as the painting took shape. The placemat, which I’ve discovered to be as necessary on a Scottish table as cutlery, posed maybe more of a challenge than Sam’s fur, but I’m quite satisfied with the overall result, and the making the painting of my wee furry friend has helped to reinforce all the enjoyment I had of his companionship