And despite the inclement weather it turned out to be a busy private viewing, with people travelling from as far as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Fife for a first look at my latest work.
Over 40 of My Paintings & Prints on Show
With around 40 original pieces hanging across the gallery, it’s a real showcase of everything I’ve been working towards over the past 15 years.
The show is divided into three areas: oils, mixed media and etchings …
… with the pictures hung according to those groupings and in roughly equal numbers.
All in the name
I chose the title Northern Lights as it aptly reflects the nature and atmosphere of the majority of the work included in the exhibition. There are 12 oil paintings in the show, including the 3 above, which feature either Scottish lighthouses or shimmering twilight views across the Firth of Forth.
Glitter Moons – Yellow, Blue and Pink, etching and screenprint – 69x80cm (framed individually)
It’s not all about light and colour, however. In my etchings I focus more on the details, marks and tones that help to give each of the prints something distinctly different from all of my other work. On one wall you’ll find various craggy Scottish mountains and ruined castles, including Ben Nevis and Dunnottar. These are accompanied by atmospheric cityscapes of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Victoria Street and Dean Village …
… while on the opposite wall are more etchings of seascapes, including the old piers at both Culross and Aberdour (both shown below).
I’ll be back at the gallery on 24 February (2-4pm) for an Artist Talk, where I’ll discuss how I made these paintings and prints and also inspirations. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have too.
So if you’d like to attend then please get in touch with gallery owner Lesley at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Lights is on show now at Graystone Gallery in Edinburgh’s gorgeous Stockbridge and continues until 10 March 2024. If you manage to get along to see it then please get in touch and let me know what you think at email@example.com
Some words from Graystone Gallery about the show …
“Look closely at the oil paintings in Northern Lights and you can sense a love of Whistler’s London nocturnes. Clive imbues his oils of lighthouses and the darker seascapes with that same feeling of delicate stillness and calm, building it with layer upon layer of transparent glazes …
The ramshackle buildings and highly detailed compositions and colour schemes of Schiele and Klimt’s landscapes have also had a big influence, which can be seen in the watercolours of coastal villages and Edinburgh in particular …
In each of Clive’s works, there is a tangible sense of yearning, of a desire to create something that is beautiful, yet distant or unattainable. It’s there in those city lights twinkling and beckoning the viewer from far across the Firth of Forth …
But there is also a drama at play in these atmospheric pieces that comes from a deeply felt need to create a perfectly constructed arrangement, or a harmonious symphony, out of the interplay between the land, the sea and the elements. Or, perhaps, the essence of Clive’s work is simply his attempt to try to capture and hold on to some long-sought feeling of calm and serenity.”
Just in time for Christmas and after several months in the making, I am delighted to share some very exciting news about recent work I have been doing for top Scottish luxury leather goods brand Strathberry.
Strathberry HQ Christmas animation
For those of you who don’t know, Strathberry is based in Edinburgh’s West End and has a retail outlet in the city’s Multrees Walk, along with 3 stunning boutiques in London’s Covent Garden, Kings Road and Burlington Arcade.
They are internationally renowned for producing high quality, beautifully hand-crafted handbags and are the go-to brand for the likes of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle according to Marie Claire.
The Princess of Wales loves Strathberry
It was just over a year ago that I was approached by Amber, Chief Marketing Officer at Strathberry, in a particularly serendipitous twist of fate. The company was about to celebrate its 10th anniversary and wished to use their stunning 4 storey Georgian townhouse, in Edinburgh’s Melville Street, as the new face of the brand. She had googled ‘Edinburgh artist’ and, as a result of that search, came across a previous blog post of mine where I had detailed the various stages towards completion of a commission I had recently done of a similar townhouse in the city’s Rutland Square (see that image below and click here to read that post).
Rutland Square Commission
Impressed by the end results of that project and looking for something similar but uniquely ‘Strathberry’, they commissioned me to produce a detailed ink drawing of their HQ. The brief was not only to create something that was representative but something that could also be utilised in a variety of novel ways going forward: for example, an image that might be flexible enough to appear on packaging, tissue paper and product care booklets, as well as being featured in a variety of media online and in print.
Strathberry HQ Final Drawing
With all of that in mind, I created the image above – deceptively simple in design and finish, but far from simple to produce. In order to fit the whole building into the frame (including the roof and chimneys as well as the basement) I had to somehow show it from mid height (I used a drone to get a variety of photos at different heights for this purpose). However, this created its own problems in that a bird’s eye perspective had the effect of warping the entire image, revealing too much basement and moving the focal point away from what I hoped would be a welcoming doorway that would lead the viewers into the building – so to speak.
In the end, and after a couple of time consuming false starts, I managed to compose an image which shows the entire building without warping the perspective at all, while giving equal prominence to every storey (roof and basement too) but maintaining the entrance way as the main focal point. I submitted my final ink drawing in April and, thankfully, Strathberry owners Guy and Leanne were delighted with the result.
Now it was time to paint the townhouse (see below)!
The Strathberry Townhouse
Again, I wanted to keep the painting as simple but effective as possible, while showing the Strathberry townhouse at its very best. 34 Melville Street, Edinburgh is not only the company HQ, but it’s also the place where products are designed and marketed (as shown to great effect in the magical Christmas animation above). It also happens to house a sumptuous showroom on the ground floor. All in all, Strathberry HQ is an extremely elegant Edinburgh townhouse – sophisticated, yet warm and welcoming – and I hope to have created something that reflects those qualities with these images.
Commissions are never straight forward or relaxed affairs but, much to my relief, Guy and Leanne were again delighted with the final painting, which I delivered in June (see handover picture below).
I’ll post a more detailed account of the whole procedure in a future blog piece, including a stage by stage breakdown of the creative process involved. But for now I just wanted to show the final images produced for this prestigious commission and give a little more information about how Strathberry have been using my images to help celebrate their 10th anniversary and also to showcase their stunning World Heritage listed HQ.
A detail of the painting pops up when hovering over Strathberry Stories on the company website
The beautifully animated version has been on show on window display screens in every Strathberry boutique in the land
And and how’s this for a bit of unashamed name dropping … ? I was recently informed that ex US president Bill Clinton, while on a shopping trip to London, was entranced by the animation while walking through the Burlington Arcade store. So much so that after watching the whole clip he was enticed into the store and purchased 4 handbags for Hilary and Chelsea!
Strathberry have also used an inverted version of the ink drawing on menus for a recent press event at the Kimpton Hotel in Edinburgh.
Menus featuring an inverted version of the image
The Strathberry story will continue to develop over coming years and I am very excited to see how the image I created for the company will be utilised in exciting new ways going forward.
In the meantime, I hope to do more of this kind of work in future. So if you are looking for a similar (but different!) picture of your own elegant townhouse, or anywhere else for that matter, and would like to discuss how to make that happen, then please do not hesitate to get in touch via the contact page or by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Proud and delighted to see my work being used in such a wonderfully creative way this Christmas!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year!
Saturday 4 November saw the opening of the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards (SLAs) at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.
And I was delighted to be able to attend the highly anticipated private view of this prestigious new exhibition the evening before, having had my etching of Dunnottar Castle shortlisted for the SLAs back in July.
It was one of only 133 artworks to be shortlisted from almost 3000 entries and, although it didn’t win a prize, I was extremely proud to see it hanging in a fantastic spot in one of the country’s best and most visited public galleries.
It was a wonderful evening of catching up with some old friends in my former Edinburgh stomping ground, as well as meeting a few of my own favourite artists for the first time. It also allowed me to see what’s happening right now at the sharp end of Scottish landscape painting and printmaking.
The variety of work on show at the Scottish Landscape Awards – not to mention the talent and skill employed to create it – ensure that this is a hugely enjoyable exhibition for artists and art lovers alike, showcasing the country’s huge diversity in subject matter and the many different and intriguing techniques used to create the pieces.
My partner Pam who accompanied me on the night
And, of course, its always great to see your work shown alongside your peers and some of this country’s most successful and admired artists.
Barbra Rae announcing the SLA winners (photo by Greg Macvean)
My image of Dunnottar Castle came about as part of a commission I was awarded by Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums in January 2023. Click here to learn more about and the various printmaking methods I used in its creation. I am also very proud to have an artist’s proof of this print, along with the 3 others I produced for that commission, in Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums’ permanent art collection.
Describing my working methods to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums at the city’s Treasure Hub earlier this year on completion of the commission
This has been a particularly busy and hugely rewarding year for me so far: with two successful solo shows under my belt at Frames Gallery in Perth and Inverness Creative Academy; the aforementioned commission from Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums; and another for luxury Edinburgh-based leather goods brand Strathberry Ltd (of which there will be more to report soon).
At the Scottish Landscape Awards private view with my show catalogue and print of Dunnottar Castle
And having my work included in the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards exhibition, as well as featured in the gorgeous catalogue that accompanies the show, means that this has also been my most successful year to date.
Meffan Winter Show 2023
But it doesn’t end there for 2023, or for this particular print! I am happy to say that Dunnottar Castle is also featured in the Meffan Art Gallery annual winter show, which opened in Forfar on Friday 10 November.
As for the rest of the year, I will be working hard to produce new paintings and prints for my next solo show, which is at Graystone Gallery in Edinburgh in February. Details to follow, but I am excited to be the first artist to have a solo show at their brand-new gallery premises in Stockbridge.
Dunnottar Castle, in a limited edition of only 40 signed and numbered prints, is currently available to purchase (in a frame) at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh and the Meffan Institute, Forfar. Unframed prints can also be bought directly from my shop by clicking here.
I was initially told about the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums (AAGM) Micro-commissions by a studio colleague the day before the deadline. I was in the middle of moving into my new studio and packing for a New Year trip to Crovie the following day. However, as a relative newcomer to Aberdeen and having spent many hours admiring the gallery’s fantastic collection, my interest had been piqued! I downloaded the application form and had a first draft written within an hour.
At the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums’ (AAGM) Treasure Hub where I gave a talk about my Micro Commission work to the Friends of AAGM
Applicants were asked to say something about their lived experience in the city, addressing themes that might include social justice, climate change, identity, well-being and migration, while responding to something that was already part of the AAGM collection.
I thought it could be a challenge to come up with an exciting print-based project that would test some of my recently acquired printmaking skills, especially in screen and photopolymer printing. And, in the unlikely event my proposal was successful, I might just about manage to complete the rather ambitious project I had put together in my mind, despite having already committed to 2 solo shows and another important commission – all of which were to be fulfilled before the AAGM June deadline!
No holiday for me … not yet anyway!
So the first day of our supposedly relaxing holiday was spent editing my application (with considerable help from my patient and very understanding partner Pam) and it was submitted within an hour of the deadline.
Having never applied for anything like this before, I resignedly put the whole experience down to good practice and relaxed for the rest of our trip.
Around 4 weeks later, having forgotten all about my application and while frantically finishing several paintings and working on the final preparations for my early March solo show, I received an email to say my proposal had in fact been successful!
My initial elation and surprise at this great news were suddenly followed by a gut-wrenching dread that I might just have overstretched myself! But I do love a challenge and that’s exactly what the following 5 months proved to be!
The final 3 prints that make up the triptych: Disintegration, Transformation & Anticipation. I named the triptych with a nod to the 3 institutions that feature in the middle print; namely the Central Library, St Mark’s Church & His Majesty’s Theatre, collectively known by locals as Education, Salvation &Damnation.
In selecting a work from the AAGM collection as an initial reference for my own project, John Piper’s powerfully atmospheric painting of Dunnottar Castle immediately sprang to mind. Like many of his works, it perfectly captures with great drama and deceptive simplicity the beauty that can often be found even in a crumbling old building. This got me thinking about how the disintegration of one thing can lead to something new and possibly even more beautiful in its place (a painting in this instance, but also the castle itself).
Dunnottar Castle by John Piper
From here I travelled north in my mind to Aberdeen city centre and thought of the recently opened Union Terrace Gardens and how they have helped to rejuvenate that part of the city.
Newly reopened and rejuvenated Union Terrace Gardens (January 2023)
I then took a short trip across Union Street to the recently demolished Aberdeen Market and pondered how that has provided an opportunity (and also hope) that something better might arise out of the dust and rubble.
The currently vacant site of the old Aberdeen Market
I decided to produce a triptych of handmade prints exploring the theme of disintegration in relation to those three well-loved local sites. To bring these ideas to fruition I wanted to use three different printmaking techniques, which would reflect the past, present and future in their own way.
Three Different subjects printed three different ways
Disintegration, the first piece in the triptych, is a traditional copper-plate etching inspired by John Piper’s painting of Dunnottar Castle.
Disintegration – 40x60cm – copper plate etching with hard ground and aquatint (including sugar lift and spit bite) on Hahnemüle etching paper
Inking up the plate
Disintegration is signed and ready to deliver to Aberdeen Art Gallery when framed
Transformation – 40x76cm – photopolymer etching with chine collé and watercolour on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper
The middle piece, Transformation, depicts Union Terrace Gardens and contrasts old and new features now present in the gardens and also in the methods used to create the print.
Chine collé tissue cut to shape for adding colour to the etching
It combines very traditional etching techniques like chine collé above to add colour to the print …
An acetate was used to expose the image onto a photopolymer-coated steel plate
… alongside methods employed in contemporary digital photography.
Transformation completed at Peacock Print Studio in Aberdeen and ready for the AAGM collection
Anticipation – 40x60cm – screen print on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper
Anticipation focuses on the Aberdeen Market area and poses the question: what does the future hold for this site?
Making a composite of the various pictorial elements in Photoshop
Photoshop was used to combine a drone-captured digital image with an interpretation of the Herakut mural from the old Aberdeen Market.
A proof incorporating the hand-painted golden question mark
The final image of the triptych, Anticipation, is signed and ready to frame
The Micro Commission Experience
Working on the AAGM Micro-commission has been a fantastic experience as well as a great opportunity to learn. Not only because it has allowed me to develop and test my skills in traditional and photopolymer etching, as well as screen printing, but the funding that was provided by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums has also enabled me to produce an entirely new stand-alone series of prints that are quite different from anything I have done before. It is also wonderful to know that my triptych has been accessioned into the AAGM permanent collection.
Describing the processes involved in producing each print at Aberdeen’s Treasure Hub
I would advise anyone who is interested in applying to the next round of Micro-commissions to absolutely go for it. This has been a hugely rewarding experience and has shown me what I can achieve under intense pressure.
And finally …
Finally, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for providing the £2500 funding that enabled my Micro Commission, and many thanks also to Shona Elliot and all the staff at AAGM for their excellent support throughout. I’d also like to thank the staff at Peacock Print Studio and, in particular, James Vaas and Struan Hamilton who have both been very generous with their time, patience and expertise throughout this process.
I will put together another post soon where I will go into more detail about the making of each print in the triptych … watch this space!
This is the final week of my solo show Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon at Inverness Creative Academy.
I’ll be on site from 2-3.30pm this Friday 14th July to give visitors a guided walk around the 40 pictures. I’ll discuss the many techniques I use to create the works as well as the inspirations and ideas behind them. I’ll also be more than happy to answer any questions about my practice and experience of working as a full-time artist.
It’s free entry so just show up at the cafe at 2pm and say hello. I’ll look forward to meeting you then!
Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon is on until Saturday 15th July at 4pm.
Just a quick post to wish you all a very Happy New Year!
In my newly set up studio at Langstane Place, Aberdeen
I am especially grateful to those of you who have very kindly supported me by purshcasing my work this past year and in previous years too! Every single painting and print that you buy really does help me to continue to keep making new work, and for that I am extremely grateful! And, while I love what I do, it’s not always easy to keep going, especially in this economic climate.
Pam helping me out (as she always does!) in the new studio
But very special thanks must be given to my truly wonderful, kind and ever-supportive partner Pam. Without her help in so many ways, without her great patience, kindness and generosity and her all-round gorgousness life would simply be so much harder indeed! I love you Pammy and want to say the biggest !!THANK YOU!! from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done and still do for me! You really are the best!!
There’s plenty more to write about just now and I’ll post a fuller update on my recent studio move and some upcoming solo shows very soon. But in the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year and here’s to a highly creative, productive, successful and – not least – fun-filled 2023!
Dunnottar Castle – oil on canvas – 80x80cm (unframed size)
Dunnottar Castle is quite possibly THE perfect landscape painter’s subject. Sitting atop a magestic outcrop of rusty red sandstone, surrounded by constantly changing seas and skies, it’s sheer immensity and magnificence are breathtaking – the scene simply demands to be painted!
My favourite place to paint!
The above painting is the view from the little bridge that spans the deep gully and leads to the cliffs on the western side of the castle. Those cliffs have also been a favourite haunt of mine over the past few months and are a great spot to paint en plein air (below).
Me painting en plein air at Dunnottar Castle
After spending several months working on this particular painting – and trying do the scene the justice it deserves – it will be great to see it hanging at the Aberdeen Art Fair (AAF) from this Friday.
Muckle Flugga (Old Norse Mikla Flugey, meaning “large steep-sided island”) is the northernmost point of the British Isles and, in my own humble opinion, has to be one of the most dramatic lighthouse locations on Earth.
I hope to have captured something of the rugged nature of the rock itself, but also of the precariousness of that lonely lighthouse perched upon it. The perpetual crashing of great ocean waves has done little to change this scene since the lighthouse was built in 1854. But nothing lasts for ever – apart from oil paintings hopefully!
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!
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
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.
I have these two large pictures for sale at Gallery Heinzel’s upcoming Winter Show. Opens on the 9th Nov and runs until March 2020.
Three Views of The Bass Rock
Three Views of The Bass Rock Oil and gold leaf on gesso-primed hand-made paper (126x52cm framed)
The above painting has been over a year in the making. It glows and looks great in this frame with non-reflect art glass. The tiniest touch of gold leaf adds a very subtle beam and sparkle to each of the lighthouses. I’d liked to have kept this one for myself, but needs must!
Non-reflective glass allows more light and colour to bounce back from the picture rather than off the glass. This also means there’s no annoying reflections that prevent you seeing the picture properly. It’s very expensive but well worth the money and I’ll be using it more from now on.
This Harvest Moon etching is the 3rd variation I’ve made from a single copper plate. This edition is the result of a seemingly never-ending series of painful and time consuming trials with various ink colours (each pigment having its own peculiarities which can make or break a picture). I’m finally happy with this combination. Fellow printmakers have asked how I got the blackest ink and palest orange together without a gap or mixing the two. The simple answer is with great difficulty, as both colours are wiped onto (and off) the plate together for a single pressing. For every successful print two others went in the bin. This is by far the most difficult print I’ve ever made!
This is number 9/20 and is framed and available at the gallery, but there are more unframed copies available. I also have some Super Moons and only a very few Blue Moons left for sale. Contact Gallery Heinzel or myself directly if interested.
The show opens with a preview between 11-2pm at Gallery Heinzel this coming Saturday.