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

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Art in the Flowers

Life in the art world: sometimes dull, sometimes desperate. Often challenging & experienceful! Through an amazing series of miracles & a dedicated friend and fellow-artist, I flew to Scotland, exhibiting work Sept. 9-21st as part of Aberdeenshire's Northeast Open Studios event with Ian Logan at Flowers by Booth, a lovely venue in the upscale Deeside village of Cults. Such an adventure, on all levels! The exhibition space was brilliant. Our hosts Isla, Richard & Donna were unbeatable for making us feel welcome & at ease, & the visitors to the shop, whether to purchase flowers or view our exhibition, were interesting & entertaining. Definitely a great way to experience local culture, first-hand! I especially enjoy the looks on local residents' faces as they listen to me describe my work & try to connect the American accent with the Scottish artwork on the walls...! The support & encouragement we received from appreciative visitors was remarkable. I am asked regularly "why in the world I keep coming back to Scotland"....for me, there's just no question: great people, wonderful support for artists & musicians, & the fruit scones are wonderful!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

R & R in Scotland!!

Last week brought an opportunity to reconnect with friends and favourite spots on the Black Isle (really a penninsula) across the Moray Firth from Inverness. A morning walk down to the Firth & back in the rain reminded me of all the paintings I want to do of this beautiful area! It's been amazingly warm & balmy for this time of year, & blackberries are still plentiful, but not very tasty when picked from a spot lacking in sun. It's lovely to find things appear to have changed very little here - the gold of harvested grain fields is still just as lovely against the many hues of blues & greens of sky & foliage. The old stone remains of Redcastle, once a Mackenzie stronghold, still stands, altho I notice a large new crack near the NE corner. The tide is in on the Firth, & the numerous waterbirds seem to have disappeared into thin air, where we watched a group of oystercatchers in their afternoon search for sustenance on the seaweed-covered mudflats. Note to self: carve out a good-sized chunk of time to paint here daily.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Whooee! An entire day to paint today…….what better way to celebrate Independence Day & personal freedom than spend one’s waking hours engaged in best-loved activities?? Put the finishing touches on “Poppies in the Garden,” a garden painting of a spot on the lovely country Novar Estate north of Dingwall in Ross-shire. The beautiful reds in the poppies, although in the shade, make a striking contrast to the cool shadows of the graceful old house and greens of the garden beyond. The main building is well worth a painting or two itself—hmmm, next trip, perhaps!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sharing the Magic

Have just returned from a rewarding experience participating in Hayden Lake library's summer arts program today.....

Amy Wilkerson, herself a Scot with a sincere interest in encouraging interest in Scottish culture, organizes informative & entertaining programmes & Celtic music concerts in the area whenever possible. Today's presentation was Amy reciting an old Scots story along the lines of Rumplestiltskin (there's one in every culture, is there not?!) & sharing a bit of info about the country & culture, while I played a few tunes & shared from my photo collection. Great to see how many parents took the time to bring their children & participate, & it's always fun to see the reactions of listeners to live music & storytelling!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Artwalk Antics

Nearly missed Artwalk in Coeur d'Alene this month, due to it's long-standing 2nd Friday evening status.....would've felt a bit silly, as I was privileged to be invited guest artist at Cheryl Burchell Art & Design! An enjoyable evening with great people in a lovely setting, and it's always fun seeing the look of incredulity on faces when I explain what I do. Well worth a stop if you're in downtown Coeur d'Alene this summer!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On with the Games. . . .

March & April were, technically speaking, DISASTERS. Losing one's domain & having to change that & contact info after all the hard work of networking is a bit daunting, but could be worse, always. A complete change of focus was in order. What better than an action-packed Highland Games weekend in the desert 10 miles outside Las Vegas?! An excellent, well-run event - outstanding music, enthusiastic, friendly people....nothing short of brilliant! Enjoyed every minute of it, & came away with renewed inspiration & energy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Inspired Sorting

Just finished listening to 'The News Quiz,' a hilarious news satire show from the BBC. I'm so grateful for the benefit of sharp minds and quick wits of others for inspiration and a dash of insightful humour to brighten the day! The point of overwhelm is easy to reach in this busy, production-oriented life. I've been escaping lately by spending time reviewing and organizing photos – ditto with my fiddle music – wonder what's up with the sudden inspiration to reach beyond the normal level of 'it's here somewhere' handle on things?? Usually when I start getting things really organized, it's a signal that a trip is in the offing. Hmmm…….

At least the painting procedure hasn't followed suit…..I've currently three in progress, a large formal garden in Ross-shire, the ancient Plough Inn on the Black Isle, and a wee colour sketch of Plockton on the West Coast…..it's no fun unless there's several different scenes and sets of challenges to solve simultaneously……!!! The red sailboat just outside of North Kessock on the Black Isle was a joy to paint, recalling pleasant hours I've spent, both with my friends and on my own, on the twisty, scene-at-every-step road that hugs the Firth between North Kessock and Milton, two tiny 'bedroom communities' of Inverness, across the impressive span of the Kessock Bridge.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To the Sea, To the Sea

It's a dreich February day in North Idaho, and the fog was thick before noon. Lovely to observe, actually, with frost-covered tree branches looming out of the mist like the bowsprits of sailboats. My current residence is very pleasant, with wild turkeys and deer constantly parading the grounds and foraging beneath tall pines (and in my mother's flower beds). Still, there's an intangible something about being near salt water. Being away from it just feels as if there's something lacking! This could be attributed to one's background….who's to say….. All I know is, I'd be packed in an hour if the chance appeared to be seaside for a few days – even in winter!

Walking beaches during wild winter storms on the Pacific Coast was a highlight of my childhood Februarys: the drama of thundering seas pounding against land; storm-tossed 'flotsam and jetsam' being pushed up the beach with torpedo-like speed and force; and the fascinating piles of ocean detritus left on the beach to dig through in search of 'treasures.' I am deeply grateful to my parents for providing me with such opportunities. It is little wonder that Scottish marine subjects make up a large part of my work.

"Stonehaven Solitude" is one of several paintings based on the NE coast's lovely Stonehaven town harbour. I could spend several months harbourside and still find more subjects to paint! The water's beautiful colours under clear conditions, the myriad of 'artistic' boats, the entertaining comings-and-goings of both locals and tourists…..it's the 'bee's knees' for a painter!! This lovely wooden sailboat is a great subject – I wanted to emphasize the snug peace of the harbor in quiet times, thus the rather restful colours, water calm enough to hold cast reflections, and solid, stable, vertical lines of the pier's construction. I wonder where the boat has been, and what interesting trips it will log in the coming year? The imagination kicks in……..

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Loch Duich - Did Robert Burns Stay There Too??

An additional bright spot in this very gray, frosty winter week: my recent painting “Loch Duich from Kintail Hotel” (discussed in an earlier post) ,was voted by members in attendance at the monthly Coeur d’Alene Art Association meeting to hang for a month in a strategic spot at North Idaho College. Not being an enthusiastic “joiner” of anything, I bit the bullet, becoming a member over a year ago to have an activity to share with my 87-year-old mother, who (I’m jealous!) paints a minimum of 30 hours a week! Joining has benefitted us both in many unexpected ways, and I for one actually look forward to attending meetings!

Another ‘meeting,’ Scots oriented of course, that should be experienced at least once in one’s lifetime, is the Burns Supper, held (normally) on or around January 25, Rabbie Burns’ birthday, 250 years ago. Here in Idaho though, we do get a bit creative. The Scottish contingent in Kellogg 40 miles away held it’s Burns Supper in May a couple years ago – a hilarious event offering haggis and pepperoni pizza, scratchy recorded Burns poetry in an accent so thick no one understood and soon gave off trying, and some rather individualistic attendees, shall we say, who ate, drank, and interrupted the poor organizer endlessly. A priceless experience.

Having limited knowledge of one R. Burns, except for a fascinating visit to the Writer’s Museum in Lady Stair's Close off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and observing of a good number of “Rabbie Burns Slept Here” brass plaques” scattered throughout the north of Scotland on my own wanderings, it must be said that I’m heartily intrigued. His life and works have been elevated to such a degree, while he exhibited such human frailties. All in a time when church reigned supreme and would hardly condone his activities and behavior. An entire country which chooses to honour a fascinating albeit dubious character such as Burns…..well…..just one more reason why I love Scotland!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bringing Back the Bears

My dad, who’s 82, scans the morning newspaper and keeps me up to date on issues relating to wildlife – always a fascination for him. He excitedly lays out articles for me to read and discuss over breakfast. (And people wonder why I’m the way I am – raised on fur-trapping techniques & classical music!!) Earlier this week it was an article about a record-breaking bull elk, bagged somewhere in Utah. Impressive. Appeared as though the trophy rack it had carried so proudly could’ve gored 4 people at once, effortlessly. Note to self as I went over the details with dad: “Another thing I REALLY enjoy about Scotland – minimal wild beast encounters when exploring outdoors.”

Living in north and north central Idaho is a great privilege – I deeply value wild land and resources and the importance in preservation and maintenance of same. We need to protect every square inch we’ve got left worldwide. And the world would be a terribly dull place indeed without the myriad fascinating forms of life that inhabit our planet. But…. what a glorious treat to go wandering in remote Scottish hinterlands knowing there’s scarce chance of becoming dinner for a hungry wild carnivore larger than you, or accidentally disturbing a family moment in the local elk herd (been there, did that one, healed up nicely, thank you!).

Returning from several lovely days on the coast last autumn, imagine my amazement at discovering a wee sign posted on the A832 partway between Kinlochewe and Dingwall in Wester Ross advising caution when exploring – a pair of bears has been introduced in the area! There goes the stress-free hillwalking! Joking aside, I applaud intelligent efforts at the difficult and highly charged issue of reestablishing some level of balance in ecology in wildlands. I wish it and others like it success. There is nothing like the thrill of experiencing the presence of our truly magnificent fellow tenants on the planet, firsthand. I wasn’t able to locate additional information on the bear project, but do expect to find a newspaper article all about it neatly laid out for early morning discussion in the near future.....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Experiencing Skye

A slow day in the studio, but time to think happens when one isn’t so rushed…..to realize that the painting I’m working on just might be done! This 30”x40” landscape is a stretch for me – I’m much more comfortable on water! The land of Gaelic myth and legend where time seems often to be frozen in space has countless Highland faces: here it’s Sligachan, a place of raw windswept beauty on the Isle of Skye in the Cuillin, Skye’s famous mountain range. Only three months ago I was out slogging around in the squishy heather, dodging intermittent freezing rain-torrents (NOT showers!) literally soaking up the scenery while my intrepid partner-in-paint Ian attempted to “capture the moment” on his watercolour pad. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! The colours…..the incredible aura of the place….who wouldn’t be inspired to cook up all kinds of fantastic tales on experiencing such grandeur…..? One feels the wisdom of all time standing in such places. Perhaps I’ll never be able to summon the words to adequately express what I felt out there, or create an entertaining story…..but the painting of the experience has allowed me to return with every bit of attention that went into this painting.....what a gift!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Paintings in Transition

At last a break in this year’s extreme winter weather in Idaho. Time for sore snow-shovelling muscles to relax and brain muscles to pull together and refocus. Three paintings are in various stages of completion at the moment….the brushes are looking rested-up and ready for another go at pushing paint……has anyone read about the Bridgewater Collection in Edinburgh’s National Gallery? Twenty seven works in all, by Titian, Rembrandt, Poussin and Raphael to be dispersed and sold. Hopefully whatever happens they will remain within public access. My personal favourite is the National Portrait Gallery in the New Town, but there are many fabulous works in the National Galleries, and those in the Bridgewater Collection are breathtaking. It boggles the mind to consider the hurdles a painter must have had to overcome in order to create in past centuries. No sitting down and ordering supplies from your favourite art materials shop with a plastic card over a mobile phone!! Makes me feel a major wimp thinking of how frustrated I get when challenges such as part-time jobs, family duties and weak winter light get in my way! Back to the easel tomorrow morning, NO winging (that’s whining for you fellow north Americans!!).