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)
It being a bright and sunny Christmas day, I went painting at my favourite bit of sea, ending just sitting enjoying the sun and sound of the sea.
These photos were taken at the top of Loch Harport (look for Carbost on a map of Skye), heading towards high tide, on a windstill morning. Some were taken as a reminder of the context of the other photos, some as information or photos references for paintings, and some I think work only as photographs.
The latter got me thinking about the differences in composition between paintings and photos, not only cropping a scene but also depth of field (what’s in focus and what isn’t). I also realised how much easier I find it to narrow my focus on details when I’m exploring a landscape with my camera, or just walking along looking, than when I’m sitting with a sketchbook and tend to feel I want to get “everything” in.
The reflections in the mirror-still sea make me want to add the caption: “Don’t sneeze!”
What the photos don’t show are the midges, which love summer windstill days. I’ll be back in the autumn when they’ve gone and the hills are wearing different colours.