Thank you to everyone who came to the official opening of my Edges Exhibition last night for your support and enthusiasm, conversation and comments. I greatly appreciate it. Thanks also to Skye Baking Co for the delicious catering, including assorted mini-breads and the cupcakes themed to my paintings — sheep, daisies, and seascapes.
My Painting-in-Progress: Kilt Rock has been moved from my studio to Skyeworks Gallery for my Edges Exhibition. It’s still waiting for me to finish it and as the exhibition opening is tonight it won’t get the waterfall added in time never mind finished. But I thought some people might find it interesting to see a work-in-progress and I’m intrigued to see how people respond to it as it is right now (I consider it no more than two-thirds finished).
I’ve been asked a few times whether the painting in my Edges Exhibition poster is of Kilt Rock. It’s not, it’s a detail from “Edge of Skye”, but it made me think it’s a subject that does belong with my edges theme, so I’ve started painting it. These four photos show my progress. Next step will be adding the waterfall. But it won’t be finished for Monday’s exhibition opening.
“While the existing natural forms remain the same… their appearance changes with the time of day, light, and atmospheric conditions. Similar to the way memory takes things separate in time and assembles them into a new entity.
“…the actual subject of the art is not an event proceeding in linear fashion but multifarious simultaneousness of layers of time.”
— Art historian Karin Sagner-Duchting writing about Monet in “Monet and Modernism”, page 46/7
The more familiar a location becomes, the more the variations, differences and similarities created by the seasons, weather, time of day reveal themselves, filtered through mood. My paintings are not of one moment in a location, but many; often not one location but several combined in memory into one place that feels familiar. I know where it is, but you probably see it at somewhere else.
The cliffs in my forthcoming Edges Exhibition, for instance, remind many of Kilt Rock. But to me it’s not as there’s no waterfall. That cliff painting is still a work-in-progress that might still get finished in time for next Monday’s 6pm exhibition opening.
I’m sure you’ve heard how soft, northern light (or southern, if you’re on the other side of the equator) in your studio is critical. But it’s all too easily an excuse, another aspect of Never Moving Beyond Liking the Idea of Being Creative. Work around what light you’ve got; your paintings aren’t going to be hung in unchanging light anyway.
This photo shows sunlight blazing through the northwest-facing window near my easel (and sunlight isn’t as rare on Skye as many believe!). Yes, I could moderate it with a blind, but that would not only shut out the view over the sea, but upset studio cat who enjoys lying on the wide windowsill.
“…he substitutes contrasts of colours for contrasts of tone [untangling] the ‘confusions of sensations’.
“…The entire canvas is a tapestry where each colour plays separately and yet blends in resonance into the whole.”
— Maurice Denis, artist and writer, Theories (1907), quoted in Conversations with Cezanne, page 176/7
The inspiration for titles for paintings comes from all sorts of places; sometimes a title even leads to a particular composition (such as “Lambic Pentameter”). In this instance, the comments on my abstracted painting inspired by a rocky shore about it looking like people and war led the in-house art critic to suggest the military term “Beachhead” as a title. Works for me on several levels, and thus this painting now has a title.
I believe in what the subject makes you do, yes, I do believe in a subject in the sense that it’s your starting point. And I suppose I am essentially a romantic. I believe in the sort of emotion that you get from what your eyes show you and what you feel about certain things. … I don’t really know what I’m painting. I’m just trying to paint!”
— Joan Eardley (1921-1963), BBC interview 1963
I’ve been looking a lot at the flower/field/landscape paintings by Scottish artist Joan Eardley. I like her abstraction, with enough realism to anchor it, giving viewers a path to connecting with and understanding a painting.
Sometimes an idea takes quite some time to make it into paint (and not every idea does). I’ve previously done a rocky shore as a pencil drawing and in charcoal, as well as an etching. This version doesn’t have a sea/sky horizon.
I started by creating a dark ground, using a chromatic black mixed with texture medium. Once this had dried, I “drew” with various colours of Golden’s High Flow Acrylics. Once this had dried, I painted the sea and ‘tops’ of the rocksy, again using very fluid paint. I’m now, once again, waiting for paint to dry, and will then access whether I’ll be doing anything else to it. Right now I think not, but looking in it in different light tomorrow will tell me.
Here are a few details from the sheep painting I’ve been working on (see work-in-progress photos), as well as an overall photo. It’s now at the “don’t fiddle with it” stage, put to one side where I can see it but not to be touched unless I’m going to do something very specific. I particularly like the texture* on the sheep, which catches the light at certain angles.
*The texture was created using Golden’s Light Molding Paste