Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Inner Hebridean isle of Kerrera is the setting for this high key 'off-the-brushed path' painting. Visited in '04, it's off my endless 'to paint' list at last! Accessible only by boat, the peace of the place struck me the minute we stepped off the dock. Waiting to be ferried from the landing to Ardentrive Farm Hostel on the island's north end allowed a wee recconnoiter of the area and an entertaining chat with a visiting sailor, his sailboat 'Dark Island' brought north for the summer. It was obvious not many souls frequented the island, and as my son observed, it was clear he was tiring of conversing with his dog!!
The incongruity of these two hairy locals catching some shade made us laugh, and I'm glad to have had a chance to work them up in paint, recalling the fun of that day.
To unbend (or is that unwind....?) from all the detail, this spike from an ironwork fence in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis said “Paint me….(hmmm, is the odourless thinner I use really lower in toxins…..? ” The simple grace of the metalwork is accentuated by the weathering of numerous layers of paint – each leaves it’s own colour impression on the texture of the worked metal…..an absolutely gorgeous mix of colours……! I had to fight the temptation for realism all the way, consciously working to be loose with both the brush and paint. A very pleasant challenge bringing back a summer Sunday (one travels not on Sundays in the Hebrides) exploring Stornoway’s streets and harbor, enjoying at once the salt air and smell of lovely gardens full of flowers in the sun.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It’s 10 days till Christmas, the time of year when we traditionally run ourselves ragged pursuing cultural dictates of overspending, overindulging, overextending. Years of buying into the ‘program’ have taught me well: when holidays rear their demanding heads, do what feels best: paint, play music & socialize! Everything will still be there in January, right where I left it!
The very early spring scene of Pennan, ‘High Shore’ is completed, although rather more realistic than I’d like. The stark white exteriors of Scottish buildings are a challenge to render ‘artistic!’ Practice…..squinting…..more practice…..
Saturday, December 13, 2008
A fine evening spent sitting in with local Celtic band Turning Tide has topped off a good day. It’s amazing how the music can both energize and soothe me simultaneously. I sorely miss the outstanding sessions and my friends in Stonehaven and Aberdeen, but Mel, Mo, Char and Dave are a deeply appreciated support in Coeur d’Alene and it’s a privilege to play with them. Music has been a great stabilizer in my life, providing focus, solace and entertainment for a lonely, isolated child. It’s been literally a lifesaving outlet ever since I began attempting to master an instrument. Although playing has been an integral part of life for many years, I’d not realized what a tangible barometer of my own mental well-being it is……and when a part of my daily schedule, the painting creativity is in turn stimulated like none other ... creativity fueling creativity.....interesting.....long may it continue!
The Brig O’ Dee is today’s contemplation on winter in Aberdeen - overcast, the air clear and cold, trees bare of leaves, and the grass ever-green and thriving. The history of the Bridge is long and colourful – I’ve walked it many times on foot alongside the present- day thundering traffic through all kinds of weather. Images of being wiped off the narrow walkway by an overextended vehicular appendage still loom large in memory. Not to mention the near-out-of-body experiences halfway across when a mini cooper full of young loons swoops by as they yell at the top of their lungs to make you jump, and then laugh hysterically, all eyes glued on you to see if you take leave of your senses completely and jump into the river.....
Possibly the 21st century equivalent to an early Scots peasant minding his/her own business just trying to cross in or out of the city in a peaceful manner amid carts and carriages! I left out the distracting metal framework of the cars and lorries to focus on the lovely colours of the ancient bridgework. A graceful scene, this,on solid ground, out of reach of the busy motorway, any time of year.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The ‘dark days of Decembre’ are certainly here in North Idaho. Thick fog today….. reminds me of the Haar creeping silently in from offshore along Scotland’s coastline. No hint of sea sounds or smells up here though, on the hill just above Coeur d’alene proper, just a couple ghostly deer munching on the front lawn, and the parade of big bronze-feathered wild turkeys making their daily tour round of the neighborhood.
A good day for many things; for yours truly a chance to dig into the paints and muck about in the grays of an Aberdonian winter day, study over the details of operating a big Epson printer who has come to take up residence in my studio area, practice fiddle, and partake of a favourite indulgence, a cup of strong, black cafetiere-brewed coffee. Cafetieres are wonderful inventions, simple, lightweight, easy to clean, requiring only hot water & good quality grounds to produce a superior sensory experience (half the joy of good coffee is the smell, you know!). I am amazingly fortunate in visiting a nation of tea drinkers that my friends all include cafetieres ― usually in at least two sizes ― in their kitchen paraphernalia. This particular tool for brewing the perfect cup lives at a must-visit charismatic establishment, John Briggs’ Persian Carpet Shop on Allardice Street in Stonehaven. The sea view out the window was tempting, but the bright colours of the oilcloth table cover and produce won out!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
One of the joys of paint is being able to create a "masterpiece" on any size substrate. I like to vary canvas sizes & dimensions with each painting - makes for challenges in the framing department, but who wants to think that far ahead???! This is a 'wee shottie' at Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich in the Highlands - the absolute power one wields in being able to shrink a monstrous, stately heap o'stane (stone) to a mere 4"x5" canvas!
Making one's way across the castle's stone bridge bent double to stay upright in gale force winds tips the scales in the power department. A light smattering of visitors crazy enough to attempt the bridge made for a pleasant, uncrowded opportunity to explore and contemplate life in the Highlands through the centuries. The steady buffetting of the October winds against and around metres-thick stone provided background sound adding immeasurably to the experience. How can all this be conveyed in a tiny scrap of canvas and a few gobs of paint? It can't, as far as I know, but through this and every other attempt, I learn to appreciate more and more the creative efforts of myself and others.