Life During Lockdown

Could this be why I haven’t done much art lately?

Like a lot of folk, my life during the coronavirus lockdown has involved a lot of spring cleaning. I’ve also been redecorating and making lists of things to do that I’ve been putting off for years. I’ve tidied the shed and just finished making a pond in the garden. But I haven’t painted a picture for a while (see above), though I have painted just about everything else within reach!

I know I’m not alone in thinking this form of house arrest is an opportunity to see life differently. To consider what actually matters as we go forward, but also the stuff that really doesn’t matter.

Lockdown Spring Clean

So in the spirit of making positive changes (and not having much else to do) I decided it was time to tackle my plan chest. It’s where I keep all my etchings, prints and paper-based work. There was so much in it I could barely open the drawers! Here’s a small pile of the pictures that were clogging up just 1 of them. I’ve been carting this stuff around like a heavy load for years without really knowing why. It’s mostly duff prints and paintings that went wrong. This lot ended up in the bin where it should have gone years ago … and it feels like a weight off my shoulders.

Best to bin it? Indeed it is!

I used to think it was important to keep everything. Every proof, half-finished picture, sketch etc etc. It might come in useful or spark a new idea, and wasn’t it Picasso who said “Keep Everything!” Well, he had plenty space for it and I don’t.

Holding onto that stuff holds me back and keeps me tethered to the past, when I need to keep moving forward in life without looking back too much. To proceed with the clarity of mind that comes from having more time and space in which to think, work and live.

I’ve spent too much of my physical and mental energy over the years searching through piles of stuff (metaphorical and literal, and not just art related!) or trying to fix things that aren’t worth fixing. Staying indoors for 2 weeks during the coronavirus outbreak and giving up non-essential travel and activities has shone a light on just how much non-essential stuff has filled my life up to now. It’s all so distracting!

Everything in its place and a place for everything – not before time!

My Chaos Theory

But trying to make my life neat and tidy is all very new to me. I’ve always lived a fairly chaotic existence on the whole and generally tried my best (albeit subconsciously) to avoid having any real plan or structure. And while on the surface it might look to those who know me that it’s a pretty happy-go-lucky way to be, the reality is that feelings of intense frustration and depression have often far outweighed any perceived benefits. Here’s a silly but illustrative example from my typically chaotic life …

I often go on ‘sketching’ trips in my campervan and I’ll spend ages packing everything I think I might need … just in case. Watercolours, oil paints, pastels, pens, inks, different papers, canvas boards etc etc. Practically an entire studio! But what if I want to go fishing? Best take sea and fly rods and all the necessary fishing paraphernalia I might need too. And what about the hills? So in go the the boots, jackets, rucksacks full of spare clothing, poles etc etc. Of course, I’ll inevitably arrive at my randomly chosen destination having forgotten something (usually real essentials like food, the cooking stove and even bedding one time!).

But apart from my trusty camera (begging the question: which one should I take?) almost all of it tends to remain unused and taking up precious space in my already cramped van.

There’s barely enough room for me in there as it is!

And why …?

Well I’ve never even been a sketcher for starters. I’m impatient and impulsive and find it very hard to sit still, so the thought of squatting for an entire hour trying to capture the perfect scene is a vision of pure hell for me! Photography, on the other hand, is instant and I prefer to work directly from photos or memory later on.

So I must take all that stuff simply because I’ve spent years accumulating it and probably need to justify keeping hold of it to myself. But I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it’s mainly because I can’t (or won’t) make a plan. I tend to lack the focus and powers of concentration that good forward planning generally requires. But it’s who I am … at least it was until recently …

ADHD & Me

So where am I going with all this? Well a few months ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. And it has been totally life changing! Both because of the medication I’m taking for it (a form of slow release Ritalin) and also just knowing what ADHD is and how it affects people. (I’ve added an excellent Youtube link below if you’re interested to find out more about ADHD.)

Now I’m beginning to do things that I assume most people usually take for granted, like concentrating on one task at a time and being able to listen without having to ask for repeats. Just thinking calmly and with 20:20 focus on whatever I happen to be doing is something I’ve always struggled with. This ADHD diagnosis has been nothing short of a revelation and a real ‘light bulb’ moment in my life.

The effect of the medication has been to literally slow me down to the extent that even the hours of each day seem to last longer – in a good way! (This seems to amuse and confound most people, considering Ritalin is a stimulant.) I just seem to be getting so much more done now. And, while all this means that it feels like I have more time, my energy and concentration levels have also improved way beyond what I thought possible (or ‘normal’, you might say). The upshot is I’ve never felt so happy, confident or, dare I say it, chilled out about the future.

And the Future is Bright!

It’s early days and pretty ironic I know, but this lockdown combined with the ADHD diagnosis and treatment have helped me beyond expectations. Together they’ve allowed me to stop, think and plan ahead with a focus and clarity that has eluded me for the past 50 years. They’ve also given me the time and the ‘positive’ energy I need to get things done well and efficiently in the here and now, day by day. (I’ve never been short on energy, but it wasn’t always the positive kind.)

So I’m really looking forward to getting back to the easel and on with new work. But before I’m ready for that I need to hyperfocus productively on the jobs currently in hand. Next up is to tidy that studio. After all, a tidy house/studio/shed really is a tidy mind!

………………………………………………………

I hope you and you folks are keeping well during the corona lockdown, and that we will all emerge from it having gained something that’ll make the world a happier and healthier place to live. Hope to see you on the other side!

PS. You might be interested to hear that Picasso, Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci are thought to have had ADHD. Here’s another link to a very interesting article from The Charmed Studio about that and some other stuff I’ve mentioned above.

PPS. If you think you or someone you know might have ADHD and you fancy having a laugh while trying to find out then click here. It’s a hillariously ‘unscientific’ but enlightening self-diagnosis quiz, by comedian and fellow ADHDer Rick Green.

    New Work, New Gallery and More News …

    The year has only just begun but 2019 has proved to be pretty busy for me already. The recent Architectural Landscape show at Fidra Fine Art saw some of my work heading off to new homes and then I spent the remainder of February visiting lots of different galleries and delivering new paintings and etchings to some of them too. Details below …

    Three Studies of The Bass Rock, oil and gold leaf (126x52cm framed)

    But first, take a look at what’s currently on my easel. It has taken over a year on and off to get it finished with lots of thinly painted glazes, drying time in between and fine tuning. Then more glazes … etc etc! But all it needs now is my signature. Gold leaf has been used extremely sparingly, but there’s just enough to provide the subtlest suggestion of a beam of light coming from each of the lighthouses when viewed at a certain angle. If you are interested in owning this oil painting then please feel free to get in touch via the contact page or email me at:
    cliveramage@gmail.com

    Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail left)

    Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail middle)

    Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail right)

    February turned out to be a great month of sales. I was particularly happy to hear from Marchmont Gallery that 3 of my differently coloured moon etchings had been bought by one client to be hung alongside each other. That made my day as they were bought only a couple of days after being dropped off and it was the first time I’ve had all 3 moon variations for sale at the same time. (If you happen to be the new owner and read this then I’d love a photo of them on your wall if possible – and thank you for buying them too, of course!).

    Towards Arthur’s Seat (34x25cm)

    I also recently begun to sell limited-edition, signed Giclee prints with Aquila Gallery in Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh. They have the above and following 2 pictures for sale at the moment, but more will follow soon. Marchmont Gallery also have these pictures and I’ll be dropping off more moon etchings there as soon as they are all hot off the press and dry (a week or 2 from now).

    The Old Town, Edinburgh (65x50cm)

    Dean Village, Edinburgh  (65x50cm)

    Lastly, Morningside Gallery, also in Edinburgh, have a selection of my latest acrylic paintings for sale, including a recent one of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, along with some East Neuk of Fife and Edinburgh pictures. Click the link to see what’s available there.

    That’s all my news for now.

    I’m about to start on a new series of works and will keep you updated here as things take shape. I’ll also be contacting a number of galleries who’s collections and artists I’ve admired for a while, and hopefully I’ll have work available in some of them soon too. Watch this space!

      Fidra Fine Art: Architectural Landscape

      This month I’m showing some of my work alongside 5 of Scotland’s finest and best-loved landscape and architecture specialists in a show at the excellent Fidra Fine Art gallery in Gullane.

      Along with the 6 paintings below (all of which have been recently completed and were done especially for this show), I will have a few of my etchings included in what looks to be a really interesting exhibition. The show opens at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane this Saturday 25th Feb.

      Dean Village (Sunset) 65x50cm (Mixed media on Saunders Waterford 425gsm paper)

      The other 5 artists taking part are George Birrell, Ann Cowan, Amy Dennis, Ann Oram and Allan J. Robertson. Though we’re all inspired by architecture, each of us has our own very distinct style and employ different creative techniques to create our work.

      The Bell Rock, Dusk 61x61cm (Acrylic on panel)

      So if you happen to be in East Lothian between 26th Jan and 24 Feb then go along for a look (closed Mondays). I’ll be at the preview night this Friday (6-8pm), as will some of the other artists showing, so I’ll maybe see you at that.

       

      The Bell Rock (Snow) 61x61cm (Acrylic on panel)

      St Monans (Sunset) 50x20cm (Acrylic on panel)

      Here’s a link for more details on the show at Fidra Fine Art

      The Old Town (Morning Light) 65x50cm (Mixed media on Saunders Waterford 425gsm paper)

      St Monans (Between The Woods and The Sea) 50x20cm (Acrylic on panel)

        Blue Moon in Morocco

        Blue Moon
        Etching
        58x48cm

        I love to see how the moon appears to change colour, size and character as it moves through the sky on its nightly arc. For me, the moon is a thing of ever changing beauty, mystery and inspiration.

        But where I am now it’s a cold, drizzly November night and unfortunately there’s no moon to see at all as yet, though she is up there in all her glory. So here’s one I made earlier. Inspired by a moonlit night in Marrakech 8 years ago.

        I remember being mesmerised watching it rise slowly and lazily above the flat-roofed souks of the Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech. It was a clear late-November night, but the town’s main square was as busy and colourful as I’d heard it always is. Above the seething masses of lost-looking tourists, locals on the make, donkeys and carts, charmers and snakes, children begging, children fighting, shopkeepers bartering and the constant barrage of mopeds and bicycles, horses and goats, the moon’s bright glow cast a beguiling spell over my first Moroccan night. The warm breath of camels condensed then wafted up on the chilly breeze that had begun to sweep down from the High Atlas mountains 30 miles away. Pungent aromas steamed from cauldrons filled to the brim with earthy-tasting snails for curious tourists to try. Spicey flavours sizzled from market stall tagines and exotic vapours oozed out from deep inside the crowded souks. Here I was, only 4 hours after leaving Scotland where the same full moon cast a very different spell across the icy land that would soon be blanketed in deep and heavy snow for over a month.

        And a quarter of a million miles above us, indifferent to the bustling world below, the moon appeared frozen in the sky. Familiar features intoned with the cool transparent hues of Prussian Blue, spread thin across a face of brilliant white. And as I looked up, she appeared to look down, watching everyone everywhere that ever was or ever will be. And in turn, each tiny, insignificant character continued to play out their roles, heads down in the darkening night.

          Just off the easel …

          Dubh Artach Lighthouse

          Dubh Artach Lighthouse
          57x57cm
          Acrylic on plywood

          This newly finished painting is off to Frames Gallery in Perth soon for their winter show, which opens on 16th Nov.

          Dubh Artach Lighthouse sits on an isolated basalt rock which protrudes just 35 meters above sea level at the head of a deep, 80 mile long submarine valley. The strong Atlantic currents rush in along the valley towards the Rhinns of Mull a few miles east before rising up and around the rock, causing a maelstrom of turbulence.

          The lighthouse was begun in 1867 following the previous winter’s storms, which sunk 27 vessels in the area. It was built by David and Thomas Stevenson (Robert Louis’ father) to warn ships approaching Oban through the Firth of Lorne and stands 107 feet high above the rock base and is 37 feet in diameter. An incredible feet of engineering considering its extremely remote location 16 miles from land and the rock’s tiny size! It could only be worked on at low tide in calm weather over the 5 years it took to build. Many of the workers lived on the rock in a small hut built on stilts during that time. It was automated in 1971, but it must have been a dreaded posting for many Scottish lighthouse keepers during its 101 years of being occupied.

          So here it is, flashing its first beam of the night on a relatively calm summer evening.

            RSA Summer Exhibition 2018 News

            Dean Village, Edinburgh (Dusk) – 80x63cm framed – Mixed media over etching

            I’m very pleased to have another Dean Village hand-painted etching accepted for the RSA Summer Show this year. Last year the colours were dominated by pinks and inspired by the setting sun. This time the sun has dipped below the horizon, so it’s blues and greens that predominate. It was especially good to get it in as it had to be reframed to meet the 80cm max size rule. The image itself is 65x50cm.

            This painting has also been selected for inclusion in what promises to be a lovely and exciting new art book showcasing Edinburgh art and artists; it’s due to be published next year, but I won’t say too much about that for now. More details to follow …

            I made the copper etched plate for this scene about 2 years ago and have now done 6 different versions. I really enjoy painting these and like to think I’m following in a tradition set up by the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, who would often return to paint familiar motifs and much loved scenes. Cezanne painted the view of Mont Sainte Victoria in Provence, France more than 10 times and Van Gogh did several versions of his sunflowers, blossoming trees and various other motifs over the course of his life. While it might look like repetition on the surface, it’s actually a great way to experiment with colour and technique and that helps any artist to keep improving.

            I have to admit though that I do love painting this particular scene, so will probably continue to create more paintings from it at least until I’ve used up all the ideas I have to make each an individual artwork in it’s own right. I’m thinking of doing a couple based on snowy weather next.

            Working up my etchings into stand alone paintings is something I initially did in order not to waste what might have been an early proof copy, or perhaps one of the prints that didn’t make it into a final edition. Now I enjoy making line etchings specifically for hand colouring in a variety of media, as it allows me to experiment so much. Sometimes I’ll then go on to produce larger paintings in oils or acrylics that are based on work I consider to have been successful in this hybrid etching/painting format.

            The RSA Summer Exhibition is open to the public from 3 June 2018 – 25 July 2018 and should be a highlight of any trip to Edinburgh during this summer!

            Here’s last year’s entry for a comparison of the two versions …

            Dean Village, Edinburgh (Sunset)

             

              Showing at ArTay 2018, Perth Festival of The Arts 17-20 May and now at The Green Gallery, Dollar

               

              St Monans Harbour (Sunset) mixed media over etching (framed size 55x36cm)

              ArTay 2018

              Next week sees the return of ArTay, an exhibition featuring over 60 artists and more than 300 works of art curated and hosted by Frames Gallery, Perth. The event is part of The Perth Festival of The Arts and runs from 17th- 20th May in a marquee beside the Perth Concert Hall.

              As well as the painting above, I will be showing the 3 pictures included below, all of which are for sale.

              Bass Rock Light, oil on canvas (framed size 92x92cm)

              St Monans, mixed media over etching (framed size 36x30cm)

              The Old Pier, Aberdour, etching & aquatint (framed size 45x37cm)

              Green Gallery, Dollar

              I also currently have work for sale at Green Gallery in the lovely Clackmannashire village of Dollar, including the paintings shown below. It’s a lovely place and Dollar and Castle Campbell on the hill above it are well worth a visit on a sunny day.

              The Old Town, Morning Sunshine, mixed media over etching (framed size 90x74cm)

              South Queensferry, mixed media over etching (framed size 49x39cm)

                Pictures From My Solo Show

                I wanted to share some photos from my recent solo show in Edinburgh for those who weren’t able to see it in person. There were 45 pieces hanging in total and it was the biggest collection on my work to be shown in one place to date. 

                Three Studies of The Bass Rock

                A wall of East Neuk paintings

                It was hugely beneficial for me in a creative sense to hang the show myself (well, with a lot of help from my friend Celie) as it gave me the opportunity to put the pieces together into groups that worked as mini collections on each wall.  Every picture being part of a wider context. It took 2 solid days to hang the exhibition and I was glad to see that my combined output over the past 2 years or so also worked as a whole. This is something I have often wondered about (and I’m sure that’s the case for many other artists who work across a variety of media in relative isolation as I do). But the visitor feedback was also very positive in this sense, which helped to make the whole experience an absolute pleasure for me.

                Three versions of the full Moon

                Of course, selling several pieces and meeting lots of lovely people and hearing their thoughts was also wonderful. As a result, I’m really looking forward to putting together my next solo show in the coming year.

                A wall of landscape oil paintings

                In the meantime, I have lots more work out there in 6 different galleries this Christmas. A full list and links to those current exhibitions can be found here

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                  Tuesday 28th Nov is last day of my solo show … that’s tomorrow!

                  The Gallery

                  Tomorrow will be the last full day of my show at the Edinburgh Ski Club. 

                  It has been fantastic to have quite a large body of my work on show in one place again 2 years since my last solo. I’m glad to say the comments and feedback have been very positive from people who already know my work and the many who have come in out of the cold from the street to have a first look.

                  Harvest, Blue and Super Moons

                  So if you are able to come along tomorrow or before 2pm on Wednesday 29th November when I’ll begin to take it down then please do come in. 

                  Here are a couple more pictures and a video to give an idea of how it looks …

                  Wall of East Neuk hand-painted etchings

                  (Please ignore the heavy breathing in the video!!)

                   

                    Press release for my show at Edinburgh Ski Club – open today from 11am

                    Clive Ramage will be exhibiting more that 50 works of art in a solo ‘pop-up’ exhibition at Edinburgh Ski Club this November. 
                     
                    Works From The Studio is the latest solo show of works by Dunfermline-based painter and printmaker, Clive Ramage. The show will include some of Clive’s atmospheric paintings of lighthouses, along with his popular Edinburgh and East Neuk scenes and a variety of hand-coloured etchings. This will be the biggest collection of Clive’s works to be shown in one place to date.
                     
                    The self-taught artist originally from Arbroath said:
                    “I am very excited about the show having put the whole thing together myself. It has been quite a challenge! Not only painting and framing 50 pictures but planning and publicising the event to ensure it’s looks right and is a success. There’s still a lot of work to do with only a week to go, but I’ll get a helping hand with hanging it from my friend and fellow painter Celie. It will be great to see all the work I have created over the past year or so all together in the one space.”
                     
                    Clive mainly works from his home-based studio in Dunfermline and is also a member of the Fife Dunfermline Printmakers Workshop. He frequently travels around Scotland in his camper van (or mobile studio) seeking inspiration in the country’s wild and remote corners and it’s often dramatic weather. Many of the paintings in this exhibition have been inspired by these trips along with Edinburgh and the villages of Fife’s coast. 
                     
                    Describing his work, Clive says: 
                    “I usually start drawing from a reference sketch done on site, but as soon as I am happy with the general composition I paint purely from imagination. As I work my way through a painting, the colours and atmosphere become the focus for me. The final result is my own emotional response to a place and my attempt to capture it’s unique atmosphere.”
                     
                    Clive exhibits regularly at the RSA, SSA, RGI and the RSW annual shows. He frequently sells his work with many galleries around Scotland with his prints and paintings hanging in private collections around the world. 
                     
                    Works From The Studio will be open to the public from 11am-5pm daily between Thursday 23rd November – Tuesday 28th at Edinburgh Ski Club, 2 Howe Street EH3 6TD