Blog

New Work at Ballater Gallery

These three paintings went off to the wonderful Ballater Gallery this weekend. Between them I think they give a fair representation of the kind of work I’ve been doing lately.

Bennachie, oil on canvas (24×12” unframed) – buzzard or seagull?

Bennachie is possibly Aberdeenshire’s most prominent and, among the locals, favourite hill. It’s a fairly easy walk through a seemingly enchanted woodland, before steepening significantly towards the top. With it’s very distinctive torr (known as Mither Tap) it’s a hill that can be easily spotted from just about every other hilltop in the Grampians.

I’ve never seen such an abundance and variety of mushrooms and toadstools as I found under its lower slopes last autumn, and I can’t wait to get back up there on a hot summer’s day. It’s a magical place and I hope to have captured a little of that in this newly finished oil painting of the view as seen from across fields ripe and ready for harvest near Inverurie.

Bell Rock (Nocturne) oil on wood panel (24×24” unframed) – Arbroath’s flickering lights far right – SOLD 🔴

The Bell Rock lighthouse is one of my favourite subjects for so many reasons. I grew up in Arbroath, from where Robert Stevenson and his team planned then carved the dovetailed stones  to build this 36m high wonder of the industrial world. They then shipped them 11 miles across often very dangerous seas to the reef and, when complete, it became the very first rock-based lighthouse in the world. It took the full 3 years between 1807-10 to build and that was no mean feat, considering the base is fully submerged every high tide and also for much of the remainder of each day.

While this very spot has set the stage for many a tragedy (including scores of shipwrecks and even a helicopter crash in 1955; the rotars hit the anaeometer on top of the tower) I have tried to capture it at a more serene, benevolent moment. The brilliant beam flashes out across 18 nautical miles every 5 seconds to warn passing ships of the very real dangers that lie just a few inches beneath those calm, dark waters.

Dean Village (Twilight), mixed media over etching (26×20” unframed) – over 500 individual window panes, I’ve counted!

Dean Village in Edinburgh is another favourite place of mine, as I’m sure it must be for many. It’s a view that will be very familiar to anyone walking or driving across the Dean Bridge as they enter the city centre from the north. Looking over the bridge at the myriad jumble of buildings your eyes are met with seemingly countless windows. I like to imagine the lives of all those others who might be gazing dreamily back out from each and every one of them.

I’ve painted this scene several times, each version capturing the same place, but at a different time of day and giving the same composition a completely different feel or atmosphere.

My partner Pam providing a little scale …

 

 

 

The Printmakers 2022 at Frames Gallery, Perth

 

A Hot Summer’s Day, Elie 🔴

I currently have several of my etchings in a fantastic new printmaking show at Frames Gallery in Perth.

I was very happy to see some red dots below some of my pieces at the private view, including the ones below, and also to be showing alongside some of my favourite Scottish printmakers.

The North Face, Ben Nevis 🔴

It really is an excellent and varied exhibition, showcasing some of the best in contemporary printmaking techinques and styles and I’m delighted to be taking part. Click here to see the works on show and do drop by if you are in Perth.

Spanish Hornet (ii) 🔴

As these are editioned prints there are several of each still available, so get in touch with Frames Gallery if you are interested in anything you see here (or there!).

Here are a few more of the framed etchings I have on show at the gallery, and click here if you’d like to see the whole show online.

Edinburgh Castle
The Old Wooden Pier, Culross
Blue Moon
Dean Village, Edinburgh
The Old Iron Pier, Aberdour

Heriot Gallery Show – Last Few Days

The Urban, Land and Sea show at Heriot Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh, closes this Saturday. I have several pieces in it inlucing these two large and colourful scenes of Dean Village, Edinburgh and North Berwick.

If you are in town the whole show is well worth a visit!

Dean Village (Sunset)

Click here for details and to see what’s in the show.

Happy New Year!

The Bell Rock (Twilight)

Just a quick note to wish you a very Happy New Year and also to say a huge !!THANK YOU!! to everyone who bought my paintings and, therefore, supported me greatly in my work throughout 2021.

Lots of very good things happened this past year, including my move to Aberdeen and settling into a great new studio here. I’ve also recently begun working with some local galleries (including Ballater and Braemar) and have lots of energy and inspiration for new pictures to paint and send to them, as well as to my regular galleries in the coming months.

Keep an eye out here for news of my latest works in progress and exhibitions, including Land & Sea which opens later this month at Heriot Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

In the meantime, I wish you a safe, prosperous and very happy 2022!

Heriot Gallery Winter Show

Just a quick update to say I am very excited to be working with Heriot Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh. They recently got in touch to say they admired my work and requested some for their current Winter Show.

The Old Town, Edinburgh (Twilight), Mixed media 65×50 (image size)

So I delivered these paintings yesterday and very much looking forward to continuing to work with owners Angela and Lorna. I haven’t shown any work in Edinburgh since moving to Aberdeen earlier this year, so it’s great to have some of my locally-inspired pieces available in the Capital once again.

Ramsay Garden (ii), Mixed media 60x18cm (image size)

The show runs until 29th Jan 2022, after which I’ll also be including new work in their follow-up exhibition Land & Sea in February 2022.

Dean Village, Edinburgh, Mixed media 65×50 (image size)

I’m currently working on some new Edinburgh-based oil paintings for that, so watch this space for further details … !

St Monans (Blue & Red Boat With Smoking Chimneys), 35x15cm (image size)

Studio News

I thought I’d post a few pictures from my new studio here in Aberdeen. I’ve been working up here for a few months now and have really enjoyed getting back into painting with oils. Having my own studio again is wonderfully liberating, as I can work much more freely and splash the paint and thinners around without worrying about getting it all over my furniture at home! It’s also great to have all my work materials out of the house and to be able to find everything I need within arm’s reach.

I also became a member of the very highly regarded Peacock Print Studio earlier this year. Working there has been a real eye opener on many levels, and having the entire space to myself (thanks to Covid!) has felt like quite a privilege. But I’ll dedicate a post to all of that at a later date.

So, in the meantime, here are a few pictures of things I’ve been working on recently at my studio in Eagle House.

Rattray Head (WIP)

This first one (above) is an oil painting of Rattray Head Lighthouse, between Peterhead and Fraserburgh. Some of the pebbles in the foreground were carefully painted while others were literally lashed onto the canvas using a liner brush with a very runny mixture of oil paint and thinner.

This second Rattray Head picture is a larger version I decided to do after feeling quite happy with the first. Both need further fine tuning though. The lighthouse painting below it will be built up in painstakingly slow glazes to convey an altogether different mood using a different technique.

The following 5 pictures are the products of my end-of-the-day palate scrapings (as I like to call them). When I’m finished working on the main picture each day, I basically smear together all the colours left on my palate and add a little oil painting medium to produce what Whistler would call his ‘soup’. He would apply this liquid paint in streaks across his canvases to produce many of his nocturne paintings. This painterly ‘soup’ often produces the loveliest of greys which I then use as the ground for future paintings. These sky and beach pictures were done this past week from imagination and I’ve yet to decide how to finish them off.

Cloud and beach studies (WIP)
A rather messy corner of my studio
Bennachie (WIP)

The above picture is a quick sketch I did this week of beautiful Bennachie. I’ll work it up into a finished painting, but quite like the dreamy quality of it as it is. And below is another of Rattray Head from a different angle and then there’s Catterline, one of my favourite places to paint and to spend time.

Rattray Head and Catterline

So that’s what I’ve been doing this past week or two. Every week I intend to start a whole new batch of pictures and finish at least some from the previous weeks, and continue on in this vein for many years to come. So as long as I can keep my studio (and lungs and head!) free of turpentine fumes, I’ll also try to keep posting regular updates on what I’ve been working on and also where the work will be available to see and buy.

Watch this space!

The Old Iron Pier, Aberdour

My Work Featured in The Fortnightly Review

The Old Iron, Aberdour

One of the greatest joys of being an artist, alongside getting to do what you love on a daily basis, is when you get a request to use one of your pieces for something other than to adorn a wall.

Over the years, my work has been used to promote whisky (Tobermory) as well as various exhibitions, including the RSA and SSA annual open shows. More recently I was contacted by The Fortnightly Review with a request to use my etching of The Old Pier, Aberdour to illustrate a memoir they were about to publish by author John Matthias. Of course I gave my consent and was delighted to be given an opportunity to have my work published in such an august and highly respected literary journal.

The memoir itself is the fascinating and highly evocative story of a family who have had a very close personal connection with Aberdour and the old iron pier over the past 100 years. I loved reading how that decrepit old pile of rusted iron had once played a significant role in the First World War, allowing naval sailors to land closer to home in Fife before their battleships went on to dock at Rosyth further round the coast. Never in a million years would I have guessed at anything of this history and, had I not made that etching and posted a picture of it on my website, the editor would never have contacted me and I’d still be unaware of the intriguing past life of what is a very familiar landmark! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, art often opens up conversations that can lead to the forming of new relationships, business ventures or even inspire all kinds of other things which might not otherwise happen or … or in this case, be discovered.

I was particularly surprised to read that the entire Grand Fleet of the British navy – comprising scores of battleships and support vessels – had dropped anchor in the Firth of Forth on 11th November 1918 (Armistice Day). And how there had been “excuberant rejoicing” with fireworks and dancing on board the ships that lay across the length and breadth of the firth like a pontoon bridge when the Germans finally surrendered.

The Old Iron, Aberdour

I currently have 2 of these etchings available at half price in my Big Cartel shop. That’s just £100 each using discount code 5WXW5X. Click here to visit my shop or send me an email if you’d like more information and .

To find out more about the pier and to read this beautifully evocative memoir of life in and around Aberdour during wartime, and through the decades since, click here.

Here’s a link to some incredible footage showing the Grand Fleet at sea during WW1.

Bass Rock show at Fidra Fine Art, Gullane. Only 1 week left!

The Bass Rock (Nocturne)
Oil on wood panel
60x40cm
£1450

Just over a week to see this amazing show of 70 pictures by 30 artist at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane. All of whom have been inspired by the sheer beauty of the Bass Rock.

Bass Rock

4 September to 3 October

Featuring:

Julia Albert-Recht, Claire Beattie, George Birrell, John Boak, Georgina Bown, Davy Brown, Dominique Cameron, Alan Connell, Ann Cowan, Fee Dickson, Matthew Draper, Michael Durning, Ronnie Fulton, Andy Heald, David E Johnston, John Johnstone, Suzanne Kirk, Simon Laurie, Neil Macdonald, Julia McNairn White, Rachel Marshall, Ann Oram, Clive Ramage, Gregory Rankine, Pen Reid, Pascale Rentsch, Arran Ross, Jayne Stokes, Astrid Trügg and Darren Woodhead.

It has cast its spell over artists and writers such as Turner and Robert Louis Stevenson. In the 17th century, it was dubbed Scotland’s Alcatraz following Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland. Now the Bass Rock, which sits a few miles off the coast of North Berwick in East Lothian, is to be the subject of our latest exhibition.

Around 30 artists have been invited to present their unique view of the famous volcanic plug, which is home to 350,000 seabirds, including over 150,000 gannets – the largest ‘single rock’ colony of northern gannets on earth.

It is an irresistible, imposing, brooding and beautiful muse for artists and it has inspired a fascinating and varied collection of work for this show.

The exhibition continues until Sunday 3 October, I hope you will be able to come and view the work “in the flesh”.

Some more pictures from the show

Insectarium: Fascination and Fear

SPANISH HORNET II, CLIVE RAMAGE, LINOCUT WITH PEN AND INK

I’m delighted to be showing my very first linocut print as part of the fascinating INSECTARIUM: Fear and Fascination show at the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club in Aberlady. It’s already fantastic place to visit on a lovely sunny day, but this exhibition featuring a miriad of beautifully depicted creepy crawlies makes taking a trip to East Lothian all the more worthwhile.

More details below …

3 June – 25 July 2021 | Viewing Room
Thursday – Sunday 10 – 5pm

Free entry and no booking is required
Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, Waterston House, Aberlady, EH32 0PY 

IMAGE: LYNNE WINDSOR, TWENTY BEETLES (DETAIL), MULTIPLE ETCHINGS ON PAPER

Insectarium: Fascination and Fear

Insectarium: Fascination and Fear presents artworks created by SSA members in response to the conflicting feelings that insects inspire in us. 

If most of the time we ignore them, insects loom large on the human psyche. We adorn them with contrasting qualities: jewel-like beetles or scary spiders, carriers of disease or inspirational designs, collectors’ items or targets for eradication. Beautiful or repulsive, dangerous or inspiring, insects are above all essential to life on earth, and certainly our own. They play such a big part in the natural world that studies highlighting their recent decline have prompted worry among conservationists and the general public. 

NATALIE WINGATE, HONEY BEE APIS MELLIFERA


The exhibition offers a collection of works in a wide range of media that reflects our complex feelings towards these small but crucial creatures.

Insectarium is a new collaboration with the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and was co-curated by SSA Past President Sharon Quigley and council member Catherine Sargeant. The exhibition was originally due to take place last May but had to be rescheduled due to Covid-19.

The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) is a charity promoting the study and enjoyment of birds in Scotland. Waterston House, the Headquarters of the SOC in Aberlady, is a resource centre for birdwatching that is open to the public and offers a library, a shop and an art gallery dedicated to wildlife.

Exhibiting Artists

Elaine Allison | Paul Charlton | Tess Chodan | Finlay Coupar | Helle Crawford | Louisa Crispin | Robert Crozier | Helen Denerley | Rhona Fairgrieve | Jane Gardiner | Joyce Gunn Cairns | Zsofia Jakab | Tzipporah Johnston | Gavin Johnston | Olga Krasanova | Miriam Mallalieu | Kit Martin | Karen Maxted | Norman McBeath | Greta McMillan | Claire McVinnie | Janet Melrose | Noelle Odling | Clive Ramage | Douglas Reed | Catherine Sargeant | Chris Shields | Jenny Smith | Gill Walton | Eleanor Whitworth | Lynne Windsor | Natalie Wingate | Yingchun Zhu

Back to Printmaking

Blue Moon, etching (48x58cm)
Spanish Hornet ii, linocut (wings to be hand drawn in ink)

After almost a year without access to the print workshop, I’ve come to realise just how much I get out of the whole technical aspect of printmaking. It’s a very different form of creativity in relation to the much more instinctive activity of putting paint directly onto a surface and seeing instant results. Good or bad!

Etching in particular requires a more methodical and analytical approach to the production of every piece, which in turn forces you to slow down and think hard about each and every step of the process along the way. A painting can be done in minutes, but an etching can take weeks to get right.

I often find painting pictures to be extremely frustrating, as I do tend to work quickly and instinctively and this can sometimes result in nothing more than a deflated feeling of having wasted lots of time and materials. Somehow I never feel like that when I’m making prints, probably because it does require that level of concentration and focus that seems almost to be the opposite of how I want to work with paint.

But to be able to switch between these two seemingly opposing methods of creativity (even if the end result can look quite similar) is something that helps keeps me constantly motivated and inspired. Each can inform the other approach but also provides an opportunity to think and work with a fresh impetus.

The above prints were the result of my first day back at Dunfermline’s printmaking workshop in over 6 months. I have to say it was the most enjoyable day of work I’ve had all year!

Blue Moon etching is available to buy from Frames Gallery, Perth.