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

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!!).