It was perfect picnic, I mean sketching, weather today. I popped into the post office with a letter, and came out with picnic supplies, then headed up to the slipway at Camus Mor and that joyous yellow lichen slice.
I had brought a small concertina sketchbook, my watercolours, ink pen and coloured pencils. I found myself thinking about how both the breakwater wall and slipway are hard-edged slashes through the pattern of the shore, and pondering how abstracted this might be if I excluded the sea which connects them and gives them context. Whether I could make the parts feel connected across the pages of the concertina sketchbook or whether it feels like a jump.
I started with watercolour, then did a layer of black water soluble ink using a fude pen (the nib of which gives a variable width of line depending on the angle at which you hold the pen). First the yellow section, then the bit to the slipway wall.
Overall my sketching was a bit wild and woolly, fragmented and distracted, a bit like how I feel, but I think there’s potential in this composition, something to explore further, to refine and grasp hold of. It’s certainly not resolved with this attempt, but I am intrigued by the challenge of making it read across the length whilst pushing the focus on shape and pattern rather than on seashore. What will be added to the blank pages is currently an unknown. The “here be dragons” part of the map.
It’s only taken me 13 years to stop at the car park for Lealt Falls and take a look. It was fairly early (before seven) and I had to it myself (except for whoever was in the tent bigger than their car that was tucked around the corner from the main car park). I’d met up with someone in Portree at six to deliver a commissioned painting, and decided to drive home ‘the long way’ as it would be quiet.
What also caught my eye were the patterns in the clouds above the Trotternish Ridge, with patches of blue and sunlight. I can’t decide whether my favourite photo is the one with the ‘bump’ in the ridgeline or where it’s smooth like the clouds.
A bit further north, the light breaking through the clouds over the bay at Staffin compelled me to stop again.
Before Lealt Falls, I also stopped for a few snaps of the Storr and loch.
And what would a trip around the north end be without at least one sheep photo?This lamb’s striped socks caught my eye.
A set of photos taken at Staffin beach as I narrowed my attention to small sections. Pattern, texture, and colours. I took these after I’d walked along the beach and back; I don’t get to a beach and ignore the wide views and sea to focus in on smaller things immediately.
The crisp, cold winter’s light this morning at the water’s edge at Uig Bay created sharp edges and contrasts, which I am enjoying converted into black-and-white. Being low tide, the ‘hairy rocks’ from this month’s painting project were well out of the water.
I needed to post an order for a copy of my Sheep Counting Book (destined for someone with a January birthday who loves sheep) so parked at the community hall in Uig and walked through the woodland to the post office. Lots of iced-up mud, bare branches, and vibrant greens.
Woke up to a world of white, to the view being transformed into almost monochrome, shades of “interesting whites”. And silence as the wind has dropped. After giving the studio cats breakfast and putting the kettle on, I went out to enjoy that crunch-crunch of snow underfoot. Friends who lives in latitudes where you sit in snow for months will have to indulge my excitement as it’s rare for me to have it at garden level.
This time of year, this far north (57°N), the sun sleeps in late (sunrise today 08:58), doesn’t stay for long (sunset today 15:40), and doesn’t get very high in the sky. It makes seeing sunrise/sunset easy, and for a moodiness during the day. Driving around the “north end” this morning to see a friend, I stopped a few times to snap some photos.
First the Trotternish Ridge, looking south:
Then reflections in a little loch:
And then low-tide reflections at the beach at Staffin:
I was at one of my favourite, albeit rarely sketched, locations…
… absorbed by the colours and textures …
… and that blocked-up door …
… when I was startled by a loud, single “caw”, from above me. Glancing up, there was a crow sitting on the top of the wall, looking down at me.
I’ve probably watched too many programmes where birds are harbingers, but right now the photo below feels like it’s the image for the cover of a book I will one day write with the art and poetry from this year that I’m not yet ready to share.
A stroll down the road to the postbox this morning became a stroll in the colours of autumn, of greens giving way to yellows and browns, of moss clinging to fenceposts and dead branches, and reflections in the surface water on the road. Steps taken amidst small joys.
The location: Camus Mor, Isle of Skye (again) The time: Mid-afternoon, low tide (felt like it was the lowest I’ve seen the tide here) Supposed to be doing: Painting some magnificent seascape in oils (always approach a painting with optimism!) Actually doing: Being distracted by the patterns in the rocks and listening to the waves (never gets old)