Photos: Details From Portsoy

It wasn’t only the wider views of the old harbour at Portsoy that had me contemplating paintings (see this post) but also smaller elements full of texture, pattern, colour, possibilities.

The wider context of the reflections in the photo above, with the sun catching on a few windows to create the bright reflection.

Photos: Tempestuous Sea

The sea forecast for Fraserburgh, with waves over four metres heading straight-on to the shore, enticed me to the northeast coast amidst the sleet showers, though not with oil paints and a big canvas to lash down so as to channel my inner Joan Eardley. It was hard enough keeping myself upright in the gusts! I haven’t yet looked at the photos I took on my ‘big camera’ to see if I managed to hold it still enough in the wind, but these snaps on my phone give you a sense of how tempestuous the sea was.

There’s such minimal colour the images are almost black and white, but using a photo editing b&w filter in the photo below shows what subtle greys there are and the variations in white.

Will I translate it into thick paint, or wet-into-wet watercolour, or with mixed media, or might I try monoprinting? I don’t know, yet.

Photos: At Pennan

Pennan is a tiny, historic, postcard-perfect Scottish seaside village around the corner from my favourite pebble beach. The access road is a steep single-track with blind corners down the hillside, popping out between houses at the sea. What Pennan is famous for depends on whether you’re into cinema or geology; let’s just say I didn’t take any photos of a red phone box.

But it’s not a historic fishing village entirely stuck in a timewarp:

At one side of the bay, it’s conglomerates and pebble allsorts. (For geology enthusiasts: more info here.)

After spending quite some time hereabouts, I then wandered across to the other side of the bay.

At the harbour end, the cliffs are that distinctive red sandstone.

Back home, I discovered most of my photos were in what might be called “urban concrete and rust” category, rather than “picturesque seaside village”.

This last is my favourite: my horizon is straight, for once, and the wall edge perfectly aligned by pure chance

Photos: Banff Beach at Low Tide

It was six minutes off low tide when I got to Banff. I can be this precise because I checked the tide times before walking along the stretch of white sand that’s hidden at high tide.

First I had to resist some pebbles to get onto the sand.

The sand stretches almost all the way to the harbour, along with a robust wall that suggests the sea can get wild at times.

There’s a set of concrete stairs towards the other end of the sand, and a few precarious-looking vertical metal ladders up the wall further on.

A section of the harbour is being rebuilt, and the water pumped over the wall.

Parts of the harbour are the very old vertical block construction I first saw at Portsoy, which is a bit further north. It’s a pattern that so wants to be painted!

But then so do many other bits. This morning’s walk was just about looking, enjoying, absorbing. I did meet one of the two people I knew in Aberdeenshire before we moved here, walking his dog on the beach, so there was some chatting too.

Back along the road, sandy beach, over the pebbles, and home.

Photos: In Edinburgh

A chance to visit a small exhibition of Joan Eardley‘s paintings and catch up with friends, how could I resist?

Trying to Get My Ducks in a Row

Sometimes real life feels like I’m walking through a metaphor. In this instance, about getting my ducks in a row.

Try as I might, there’s invariably a duck that’s not co-operating.

But occasionally it does happen…

And just as I think I have, the moment passes.

I saw these ducks (shelducks) at Skateraw, a little south of Dunbar in the Scottish Borders, last week, along with oystercatchers, a heron, and a skylark.

Here’s a quick look around Skateraw, with some of the birdsong, and wind (video link).

Photos: At Skateraw

I’m in the Scottish Borders for a few days, and have been looking forward to seeing the rock slabs at Skateraw on a really low tide. My two painting friends weren’t entirely convinced by the joys of plein-air painting in a nippy wind off the North Sea, but I have been looking forward to this for weeks so was determined to get out my oil paints and tucked myself in behind a rock shelf.

This is as far as I got with my oil painting before I gave up because I was too cold, and walked over to the other side of the headland which was more sheltered from the wind. There’s an enticing layered bit with a tumble of rocks beneath.

And a bit further to the right the concrete rectangles of a nuclear power station. The brutal lines of this building have a beauty of a very different kind to me.

I have also done two ink sketches in my new Octopus sketchbook, which has fold-out pages, adding colour later in the warmth of indoors.