Sketching at Bow Fiddle Rock (On the North Sea Coast Part 2)

Looking at these photos you need to add a soundtrack of gulls and shags and wind. I came here several times, sketching in different mediums, struggling against tendency to straighten and shorten the ‘leg’. Most mornings I had it to myself. At low tide you can walk almost to the rock without getting your feet wet. One afternoon, at high tide, there were three women who swam out to it, without wetsuits.

Photos: On the North Sea Coast (Part 1)

Photos: On the North Sea Coast (Part 1)

I spent last week on the ‘other side’ of Scotland, on the North Sea coast, from Findhorn to Aberdour. Looking and sketching, listening to and watching birds and waves, thinking and trying not to think, planning and dreaming, walking along a long sandy beach and sitting at rocky coves, taking photos for possible future painting projects and snaps of many an interesting bit of rocky shore. These photos are a few things that caught my eye.

Photos: V&A Dundee

Loving the V&A in London as I do, a visit to the newV&A Museum in Dundee has been on my wishlist since it opened last September. My Ma and I got there on a drizzly Sunday at the end of May, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The building was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and photos don’t begin to do it justice. Clever, beautiful, mesmerizing design inside and out. It took a while and many photos before we went inside.

V&A Dundee holds an interesting permenent display of Scottish design history, plus a few ‘other bits’ and a pay-to-see temporary exhibition (entry to the rest is free). It’s not big, leaving me wishing for perhaps a bit more, but without museum fatigue or feeling I couldn’t stop to look slowly at everything that caught my eye .

The lighting was blissfully subdued. There are interactive displays but well integrated and balanced with ‘traditional’ displays of “object + info panel”. My favourites were the cross section of the cables used for the new Queensferry bridge and discovering that kaleidoscopes were invented in 1816 (in Scotland, by a David Brewster). It’s a mix of eras and subjects, I loved it, and will go again some day.

Photos: Signs Seen in Scotland

These photos were taken Oban, Iona, Dundee and Glasgow during the trip my Ma and I made last week.

Photos: Uig Pier

uig pier pair buoys

I wandered around a bit with my camera yesterday, at one point along Uig Pier. Looking through my photos to pick favourite, I definitely seem to have been in an abstract/details mood.

uig pier yellow rust
uig pier detail
uig pier ladder
boat rail detail
uig pier pile nets yellow buoy
uig pier chain
creel rope txtures
buoy creels uig pier 2
creel rope buoy uig pier
creel shadows
uig pier creels jetty
uig pier three buoys
uig pier pair buoys

Photos: Snow at Slig

Snow at Sligachan

Each season has its own beauty. Snow shows the shape of the landscape anew, stretched tight over the skeleton (until more falls, then it lies like a comforter), in a more limited palette of sepias, umbers, whites, blue-greys, and at times bright blue in the sky. Perylene green’s a useful colour too.

Snow at Sligachan
Snow at Sligachan
Snow at Sligachan
Snow at Sligachan
Snow at Sligachan
Sligachan bridge with ambulance

Photos: Sketching at Low Spring Tide

Sea wall vs cliffs Camus Mor Isle of Skye

It happened to be low tide when I went out with my sketchbook yesterday, extra low as it’s spring tide. Even more of those enticing rocks to sketch, but which viewpoint would I choose, where would I sit? I wandered out a bit, further than ‘normal’, awkwardly as the rocks were rather slippery, getting distracted by pattern and colour.

This slab of black rock has become a favourite, and against the sun I was mesmerized once again. But beautiful as this was, I can’t sit with my back to the sea, even when I know it’s hours until high tide.

These are not fossilized dinosaur brains:

This is not where I spilt yellow paint:

Justification/evidence for adding lines of colour amongst my rock drawings:

There’s something about a pile of old rope:

Nature vs built environment. This is my favourite photo from the day but it also makes me wonder why I’ never noticed this juxtaposition before; perhaps because I usually sit on the wall rather than stand looking up at it:

Sea wall vs cliffs Camus Mor Isle of Skye

Eventually I did pick a sketching spot, against a big stone that broke the breeze:

Then a rain shower snuck up behind me. Suffice to say, watercolour isn’t a wet-weather medium.

Reference Photo Conundrum

Look at this photo quickly and tell me which direction the sun was coming from when I took it. Left or right or behind?

Answers:
1. The shadows cast by the trees fall to the right, so the sun must be on the left.

2. Rocks in the river have golden highlights on the right, so the sun must be on the right.

Or
3. Reflected light on rocks wet from river spray, telling a contradictory story.

The sun was low to my left, catching the northern edge of the river gorge. This photo is looking further to the left.

A little later the sun had moved enough to shine onto some of the river rocks from the left (the red > in photo below), while the reflected light remained in the shadow.

Much as I love sunshine, diffused light (“soft northern light”) does simplify matters.

Photos: A Little Way Up the River Rha

River Rha

It’s only taken me 10 years to go up the path in the bit of the Uig woodland that follows the River Rha rather than the River Conon. Why I haven’t been before is hard to put into words: I knew there was a waterfall there, but I wasn’t ready for it yet, I was still busy looking at what I’d already been in. It’s not that I think I’ve finished looking at this, more that I felt able to add to it. If you’re thinking “what is she going on about”, I’ll throw in the concept of “slow looking” and stop there.

I had it all to myself. It felt so familiar, like two kloofs I grew up with, Disa Gorge and Koffie Kloof n the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Though the water was even colder.

The Woodland Trust have built a sturdy path, with steps for long-legs.

River Rha

Looking down river:River Rha

River Rha

This contrast between broad and green / twiggy and brown could be interesting to explore as an abstracted, textured painting.

River Rha

River Rha

Enjoying the big boulders I was reminded of a workshop participant who said “I think you’ve cured me of my fear of rocks” and wondered how she’d respond to these moss-draped monsters.River Rha

My first drawing was a semi-continuous line looking at the rocks and trees, in pencil. Sketchbook is A3 size. The drawing ultimately covered both pages. River Rha sketching

Sitting in the same spot as above, but turned to the right.

My fourth drawing, in ink. Sketching River RhaI messed up the drawn lines when I dabbed at some ink with a piece of paper towel (that “turn it to a clean piece so you don’t inadvertently stamp on ink” error) and then tried to rescue it with some darker ink on the lower waterfall rocks. I’m okay with the result, but liked the earlier version more.

When the in-house art critic first saw the drawing he was looking at it sideways, generating a cautious “uh-huh, urm, what?” response until I turned the sketchbook ninety degrees. Think I need to add a “this way up” arrow to the page!