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!

Photos: Seen in Cumbria

I’m in the English Lakes for my “Expressive Skye” workshop. These are a few things that have caught my eye in the last few days. The tea bag notice feels like a short story prompt.








Photos: Out & About on Skye

Sligachan clouds

Lochalsf Art FairPhotos taken on the journey to drop off my paintings for the Lochalsh Art Fair which is on until Wednesday.

First stop was the classic view towards the Cuillin. A visitor who was parked here, looking on her phone when I stopped, got out and asked me what the speed limit was because everyone seemed to be wanting to go really fast. I later saw her pull into a parking spot to let cars past.
View towards Sligachan

Second stop the most-photographed-waterfall-on-Skye:
Most photographed waterfall on Skye

Though it’s more the view in the opposite direction I still want to paint:
stream to Loch Ainort

Obligatory Eilean Donan Castle shot:
Eilean Donan Castle

What caught my eye far more were the patterns by the road bridge:
Shore colours Dornie

Went into Balmacara for the “dark wood”:

And stopped near Kyle for hillside colours (last of the purple heather and bracken turning autumnal) :
Heather colours Kyle

Obligatory shot from the bridge at Sligachan (it wasn’t really this dark, I had the exposure set for the bright cloud):
Sligachan clouds

Plus moody clouds:
moody clouds

Abstract minimalism with Glamaig:
Glamaig Sligachan Skye

Reflection of the sun:
Reflections Sligachan Skye

And the usually ignored beautiful little bridge:
Bridge Sligachan Skye

Stopped at Aros (outskirts of Portree) for a photo of the house across the bay with its becoming-autumnal trees:
Across the Bay Portree

And headed into the pine plantation (thanks for the reminder of how rich a location that is Izzy!):
Forest fallen trunk Skye

Tree bark

Tree growth old man's beard

Moss on tree trunk Skye

And a final stop for moody cloudsand sea near home:
Skye cloudscape

PS: I think I’ve got my websites all moved to the new webhost, but if you see anything strange or missing, let me know! I’ve seen some quotation marks changed to question marks!

I Can’t Paint It Like That!

Sitting in the sunshine listening to the tinkling of the river at Sligachan today (I mean sketching), I looked left towards the Bundt-cake peak (I mean Glamaig) and noticed a triangle of cloud that you could impossibly put in a painting as it’ll just look wrong.

Fake Cloud (or why you need to leave things out of a landscape painting)

Picturesque cloud stretching high above, a sea of calm grey-blue rhythms, and parts of the band of islands that is the Outer Hebrides. As paintable as it comes.

Except for one thing. And I don’t mean the patch of pines poking in on the left.

It’s that improbable bit of sun-light cloud on top of the island.

Solutions:
1. Leave it out if you know the shape of the island.
2. Omit the sunshine on it if you don’t.

Photos: On the Ferry on a Sunny Hebridean Spring Day

Yesterday I caught the ferry from Uig to Tarbert to deliver a painting, being met at the terminal because the ferry turns around rapidly, 20 minutes between scheduled arrival and departure. It was a nary-a-cloud-in-the-sky day with glorious sunshine, albeit wish-I’d-remembered-my-gloves cold.

This is the painting:

SOLD. “Neighbourhood Watch” 60x80cm

Photos: Sauntering to Coral Beach

Yesterday for the first time I was at Coral Beach with the tide low (and still going out) and thus able to walk across to Lampay Island. Found myself contemplating compositions featuring Coral Beach that don’t involve its characteristic curve but include the hill, and wondering if the location would still be clear without it being in the painting’s title.

Looking from Lampay Island to Coral Beach.
Looking from Lampay Island to Coral Beach.

Coral Beach causeway to Lampay Island low tide, Skye
The natural causeway from Lampay Island to Coral Beach. Counted 14 oystercatchers on it.

Coral Beach, Skye

The "sand" at Coral Beach. (Despite the name it's not coral but a coraline seaweed known as ma?rl
The “sand” at Coral Beach. (Despite the name it’s not coral but a coraline seaweed known as ma?rl.

Coral Beach, Skye

Coral Beach, Skye
Don’t think that composition rule about adding a splash of red in a painting meant this.

There's no mistaking which is Coral Beach
There’s no mistaking which is Coral Beach. That’s Lampay Island on the left but the tide wasn’t yet low enough to expose the causeway.