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.
Driving home yesterday from my usual Saturday at Skyeworks, I was compelled to stop and take some snaps of the clouds. The light was simply too beautiful and dramatic to resist. (I also thought the group of photographers I’d passed at Uig Hotel with their tripods and long lenses aimed at the incoming ferry were in the wrong spot!)
The layers of light and dark, the light pinks and yellows behind the purple darks, the streaks of rain connecting land and clod, the calm blues above the drama. The photos were taking facing north. The sun was low on the horizon, and behind me on the left.
There are various contemporary Scottish landscape artists whose compositions are dominated by clouds, which is one of the reasons I’ve mainly created compositions with only a sliver of sky. But it’s tempting to add cloudscapes to my seascapes…
In the old cemetery at Kilmuir (north Trotternish, Skye), dominated by the tall memorial to Flora MacDonald, there’s another gravestone that to me is a reminder that sometimes not finishing something will make it more memorable.
“Here lie the remains of Charles MacKarter whose fame as an honest man and remarkable piper will survive this generation for his manners were easy and regular as his music and the melody of his fingers will”
There’s apparently no record of the rest of the inscription was, so we’ll never know what the melody of his fingers will do. But this is probably the second-most photographed tombstone in the cemetery; if you watch people, the finished inscriptions on the other graves mostly get ignored but most come and have a look at this one. Things left unsaid and implied can be more intriguing, where they might have gone. A painting may be finished long before everything is neatly sorted out. A grave lesson.
The third most photographed is probably the knight. The house-shaped shadow of another tombstone falling on him was serendipitous.
Wandering around the gardens at Armadale Castle on Sunday felt like I was walking through a palette of colours for painting springtime Skye. The intensity of colours, the variations in light and shade, the different species… I could have spent all day looking. These snapshots were taken when I encountered particularly irresistible moments. Think colour, pattern and texture.
There’s a temporary ferry running between Uig and Stornoway whilst work is being done on the ferry terminal at Ullapool, presenting the opportunity to do a journey and?to see bits of seascape I couldn’t usually. All I needed was a “ferry weather” day, i.e. sunshine and little wind so the sea would be calm. That day was Friday. The in-house art critic’s comment: “Someone who’s not a good sailor,?subjecting themselves to a six-hour boat trip, must be seriously keen to see the view.”
It was a beautiful journey, calming and mesmerizing, intriguing and familiar, inspiring and overwhelming. I took lots of snapshots of bits of coastline, the view down over Skye to the Cuillin, the snow-topped mainland mountains, the various small islands, the open water…
The ferry itself has all sorts of intriguing shapes and patterns. Geometrical abstract paintings anyone?
I did also sketch, a little. I mostly simply looked and absorbed:
Crisp sunshine, ultramarine sky with fluffy white clouds, snow-dusted peaks, no wind… today was the northwest Highlands in tranquil mode. Calming, majestic, mesmerizing. Full of visual puzzles if you look at pieces rather than the whole. So many starting points for abstracted landscape paintings, using pattern and colour from reality rather than painting the postcard view.