The mild winter continues here in northern Scotland! While this has unfortunately meant dreadful weather and flooding in England, up here it's been a beautiful period. This painting is 'Winter Sunshine on Ben Aigan'. I walk past this view every day and have been waiting for an inspirational moment to paint it. Today, nature obliged as the sun lit up the middle distance, making the whole landscape shine! Ben Aigan and Ben Rinnes, at right, still show a covering of snow but the distant woods on Ben Aigan shine a golden green colour. The trees are beautiful at this time of year and the dark colours of the foreground trees enhance the sense of distance and recession, which was my main motivation for this painting. I love these wide open spaces and the majesty of the mountains which form such a graceful backdrop to so many scenes in the area. I hope the muted foreground, of stony ground turned over for the winter, leads the eye into the middle distance and the gap in the trees, beyond which the land is lost in the warm glow of the sun. I really like this one, and I've only just kept my wife from keeping it for our own walls!
A Walk with my Best Friend
Sometimes a painting gestates for some time. I've been planning this one, mainly in the early hours, for several weeks. On the one hand, it's a beautiful scene in a wood in which I walk with my puppy on most days. On the other, I approached it with some trepidation as it is a scene with a massive amount of detail in view, which would need a lot of simplification. If too much detail and accurate painting is included, it detracts from the painting, it doesn't help it. I have no interest in photo-realism, although its practitioners are very skilful. I prefer to present a scene through the prism of my eyes and thoughts, so this was an opportunity to practice what I preach! I started with lots of wet-in-wet washes to set the mood and colour scheme, finishing with the darks between the pine trees. I then lifted out the trees with a damp brush and clean water, backwashing with colour when appropriate. I then painted the rest as normal, simplifying the pine fronds into broad areas of green. Not much light reaches the ground in these plantations, so I also had to lighten colours throughout or the painting would have been dark and morbid. I painted the path with a mixture of wet-in-wet and drybrush technique, adding the leaves as a final colourful touch in areas I had masked out. The shadows on the path have been much reduced, partly to brighten the mood and partly to create a rhythm of lights and darks along the path. Lastly, I added the walker at centre and the dog, which is modelled on my puppy, Zena. I'm very pleased with the result. It couldn't have been any darker without being gloomy but I think I've avoided the trap of painting mud for dark areas! The painting has a pleasing rhythm to it and I think it is beautiful to look at. Here on my board, in real life it looks even better! Yep, I know I always say it, but I enjoyed this one!
What Artists Live For!
I've said before that sometimes paintings just create themselves. I woke up this morning, wandered outside and was completely entranced by the sunrise. A streak of low cloud was brilliantly lit from below by the rising sun low across the horizon. The bottom of the cloud was glowing a golden colour while the tops remained darker and red-blue, meanwhile the rest of the sky seemed to alternate between blue and a hint of crimson. It always pays to keep your painting equipment close to hand and in 2 minutes I was out there painting. The light changes by the minute during sunrise so speed was essential to get the main elements on to the paper; the rest I could work at a slower pace. I was just wondering what added sparkle I could add when the arc of the sun burst over the roof of the foreground building. Perhaps if I'd planned it, it might all have been in a day's work. But I hadn't planned it, and that is what I mean when I say that sometimes it seems the painting just wanted to happen! Now it's done I love this piece for its spontaneity, its beautiful colours and the way the foreground buildings and trees show almost no detail: I wanted to focus attention on the sky. I know I keep saying I enjoy my paintings but this morning felt like a mini-adventure - as an artist, this morning was the kind of thing I live for!
Well, it's taken a while but here's my second finished painting of 2014. I visited Badenoch and Strathspey with the intention of doing some photography and sketching but the mist was so dense I couldn't see the mountains I'd come to sketch! The mist proved very inspirational for this painting, though: The Packhorse Bridge at Carrbridge'.I wanted to convey a cold, misty day in winter but I didn't want to produce a cold painting. The foreground colours both offset the chill and bring the foregound right to the front. The misty trees behind enhance the illusion of depth. Those who know Carrbridge well will know I've taken a few liberties with the left foreground, but I wanted the colour! When I painted the misty conifers at centre I got the colour exactly wrong - they had to go and were replaced by the correct colour. Don't believe people when they say you can't correct watercolour! I really like this one, and I'm very proud to include it in the 'Inspirations' Gallery.
New Gallery - Sold Work
Well, it's been a particularly successful period over Christmas and the New Year, with seven paintings and some prints sold, including my latest work, 'Racing Sticks' - pictured at left.
The galleries were getting a bit crowded with sold work so I have decided to add a new gallery - Sold Work. Hopefully this will allow my visitors to browse through my past work and to gain a further appreciation of my style of painting if they are considering ordering some commissioned work. In some cases, although the original work has been sold, limited edition prints are still available; in this case, clicking on the link in the 'Sold Work' gallery will take you to the relevant part of the 'Prints' Gallery.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the new owners for their custom; I am delighted that my works seem to be popular and give people pleasure. I look forward to continuing to try to capture the beauty of this wonderful part of the world and showing it here for you, my viewers. Thanks again.
A Change of Theme for the Site
Regular visitors may notice that I've given the site a bit of a makeover! I liked the old theme but it set the paintings against a light grey background which I thought robbed some of them of their colour. This was especially applicable to paintings like this: 'After the Sunset'. The new theme sets them all against bright white, which gives brightness while being completely neutral. It's a sleek and minimalist theme, which is how I like them and does not distract from the paintings. I've also redesigned the front page to allow quick and easy access to the galleries. Lastly, the tabs now appear down the left hand side which leaves more room on the page for content - previously almost half the page was taken up by the header. I hope you like the new theme!
I've not painted at all during the Christmas period - mainly because of having visitors and a quite destructive puppy to look after! The place is quiet again and the puppy growing up a bit, so now I'm looking forward to getting out and about painting again. I thought I'd be painting snow at this time of year but it's really warm! I reckon my colleagues in the US would be quite happy to be above freezing at the moment! I hope all is well with you wherever you are! Cheers for now!
A professional artist living and working in the beautiful north of Scotland. My work is realistic and quite traditional, though strongly interpretational in nature. My inspiration is the beauty of Nature, and the wonderful colours and moods she shows everywhere.