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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celtic Challenge - the Cross

Simplify....that's what this painter strives towards - simplify the scene before me and distill it to it's most meaningful parts......so heck, let's get rid of one of the most important buildings in Scotland - it's blocking the view!  (I mean no disrespect - I look forward to painting the Abbey and surrounds!)

This is a wee study of the high cross, also known as a Celtic Christian cross, to be found standing outside Iona Abbey.  Interesting to learn that if it was lacking the connecting circle, it would be a Christian cross.  At any rate, it's a good exercise in perspective, texture and dimension, and represents to me the incredible strength of character it took to survive in the beautiful, yet austere lands of our ancestors, whatever their belief systems.

6"x4" oil on gallery wrap canvas (covers all sides - no need for a frame!)

Highland Pastorale

4" x 6" oil on gallery wrap canvas
This is a wee landscape of the lovely fields & firth outside Muir of Ord on the Black Isle....I love the dramatic skies and scudding clouds above the peaceful scenery!  This view looks south across Beauly Firth to the hills west of Inverness.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Out Standing in Their Places

The Standing Stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, are a fascinating and mysterious link to our Celtic past.  These huge rough monoliths could still be approached and touched in '05....I was amused to round one of the larger stones near the visitors' center to discover a camper's pop-up tent erected within  a meter of it!  Add to that an inquisitive ewe nosing about the mushroom-like object and it's contents with intense concentration......! 

This wee painting is of the series of stones set along the ridge of a low rise, a bit of a walk from the main configuration.  I am deeply grateful to the locals who put up with all of us sassenachs who troop through their lands and lives in search of various and sundry goals and experiences.
4"x6" oil on gallery wrap canvas (painting extends to all sides so no need of a frame!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Necropolis Crosses, Glasgow

11" x 19.75" oil on masonite   $175 unframed, $325 framed
The Necropolis is an extraordinary cemetery in the heart of Glasgow.  I can't resist adding this description by John Strang, Chamberlain at the Merchants' House, written in 1831, titled “Necropolis Glasguensis", or “Thoughts on Death and Moral Stimulus:"

"The Fir Park appears admirably adapted for a Pere la Chaise, which would harmonise beautifully with the adjacent scenery, and constitute a solemn and appropriate appendage to the venerable structure (the Cathedral) in front of which, while it will afford a much wanted accommodation to the higher classes, would at the same time convert an unproductive property into a general and lucrative source of profit, to a charitable institution" it was to be "respectful to the dead, safe and sanitary to the living, dedicated to the Genius of Memory and to extend religious and moral feeling".

It seems the powers that be have accomplished all that, and more.  It's a fascinating excursion into art, history, geography, geneology, and beyond.....well worth a visit!  On my first exploration with my then 18-year old son Sawyer, two local characters strolling back down from the upper reaches stopped and gave us detailed instructions to find the grave of an important personage of Glasgow, William Miller, whom we MUST visit:  the author of the Scottish nursery rhyme "Wee Willie Winkie!!" ....such is a normal day in Scotland for me....!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I was fortunate this weekend to hear an uplifting talk by Coeur d'Alene's Unity minister Deirdre, sharing insights gleaned from a retreat at Iona, a wee isle off of Mull, famous for being the site of St. Columba's establishment of Christianity in Scotland.  Her infectious enthusiasm and lovely photos had my eyes watering as images of my own visits paraded through my mind's eye.  Not a place to be easily forgotten.   I hope to return and wander at length, at a slower pace than the scheduled tour allows....maybe get in a few sketches!  On a visit in '05, I landed not at the ferry landing, but at the pristine white beach a bit south...in the wee dinghy of the sailboat "Dutch Courage," with a group of friends on a sailing holiday.  A singular experience in itself, arrival on an anniversary of Scottish Labour Party Leader John Smith's passing made it even more so.  Trenchcoats on legs were everywhere.....we were eyed suspiciously and our group carefully watched during our entire stay....a number of political figures one normally sees on BBC News were there to pay their respects, and it was quite an experience to stand in the same line for tea and cakes in the local tearoom!

This is a partial view of the remnant stone walls of the Nunnery on Iona, their austere and often violent past softened by the flourishing multicoloured plantings. Literally dripping with history, this tiny Hebridean island has been the scene for many important events in Scottish and Celtic culture, and has been for centuries the final resting place of many clan chieftains and Scottish dignitaries.
oil on masonite, 9 7/8" x 5 7/8" $165 unframed, $285 framed