In the library of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, there are drawers you can pull out to see some exquisite miniature portraits. Amongst the historical portraits there’s this modern one, which felt like a reward for being curious enough to open the drawers:
That’s if you ever get past the central mural (tip: go up the stairs for a less neck-twisting, closer look).
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.
On my way to Patchings Art Festival, I stopped over in York. As well as visiting my favourite second-hand bookshops, I also went into the Minster. It’s been some years since I was last in a cathedral other than the small one in Inverness with its beautiful wooden interior. A tour was just about to start, so I tagged along, learning a mixture of things about the building and its history, including that it’s reckoned to have the best stained glass in England, and the oldest as it was not destroyed during the Reformation.
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.
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.
After visiting the new Dundee V&A, my Ma and I popped into the city’s McManus Art Gallery and Museum to look at the paintings. It’s another beautiful piece of architecture, opened in 1867 and restored between 2006 and 2009 (see photos). Worth it just for the three Joan Eardley’s.
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.
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.