This time of year, between the position of the sun in the sky and the long daylight hours, there’s lots of light bouncing off the sea in the afternoon as the sun heads to the horizon. Little wonder then I’ve found myself reaching for iridescent pearl not only for my current silver birch painting but also my Minch seascape paintings-in-progress. It conveys the silvery glare beautifully and works both in the top layer and lower layers. A little can be quite determined to show through layers! Depending on the light falling on the painting, and your viewing position, you may see lots of it or you may see nothing at all.
It’s that time of year again when the sun’s moved north and is setting past the tip of the Waternish peninsula and late (about 9pm) making for hours of enticing patterns and colours on the expanse of the Minch (sea between Skye and Harris). My fingers have been itching to paint it again (see Moods of the Minch catalogue). Here are a few work-in-progress photos, canvas size 120x60cm.
I’ve started a large (1x1m) painting inspired by the shoreline at Uig next to the woodland, where there’s a stream that runs into the bay. It’s still at the “doesn’t look like much” underpainting/blocking in stage, and the two composition questions I’m asking myself are whether to include the ferry pier in the distance and the daisies in the foreground.
I’ve been working on a series of paintings that are decidedly more abstract that usual. The inspiration come from the intertidal zone, where what’s there is fluid, changing as the tide washes in and out, influenced by colours observed in the bay at Uig, where there’s also a river adding its variations and reflections from the cliffs/hills/clouds. These paintings will go into Skyeworks Gallery this weekend, when the changearound for Christmas happens, along with a few more feather prints created with feathers I’ve found in the intertidal zone.
I’ve been working with fluid paint creating some small wave paintings, depictions of memories of watching and waiting for the perfect wave.
The enjoyment and challenge are in the dance between the deliberate (where I place each colour), the not-quite-controlled (how much paint I apply), and the mostly-beyond-my-control (how the colours intermingle). The properties of the individual pigments have an influence: their opacity, obviously, but some also tend to pull over others more strongly, and others spread more enthusiastically when you break the surface tension with a spray of water.
Like waiting on the shore for the perfect wave, each “this is it” moment leads you to anticipate the next, which is why there isn’t only one painting but a series. And why there shall be more.
Colours: Titanium white, cerulean blue, indigo, phtlalo blue and teal on a coloured ground of Prussian blue hue mixed with a little orange, which shifts it to a cool, steely blue.
I enjoy watching oystercatchers, and have often see them on Staffin beach: walking, hopping, pecking, then flying away when you take that one step too close. Their skinny red legs and long red beaks, the weirdly red eye. An on-going contemplation of how orange-red or pink-red that red is.
Now, finally, I’ve started working on a large painting featuring them. It’s had two rounds of “stop and leave to dry” then reassess and rework, and needs more. This photo was taken at the first “leave to dry overnight” stage, and first thing I did the next day was make the heads smaller by “adding sea”. I want to both delineate the birds more and keep a sense of movement. Whether I’ll get it working to my satisfaction I don’t know. But it’s pleasing to be trying.
The sea makes a tired sound
That’s always stopping though it never stops.
“Fetching Cows” by Norman MacCaig
I’ve been exploring an idea related to the incoming tide, those tentacles of water that slither up the beach reaching further and further while simultaneously always sliding back. Always stopping but never stopped. Paint that is always drying but never dry if I keep adding to a painting.
These four related studies are now
at Skyeworks sold.