The Beggar’s Mantle Fringed With Gold

A recently finished commission: East Neuk (Waxing Moon and Stars)

Until recently, I’d never heard of “The Beggar’s Mantle Fringed With Gold”. It was King James VI of Scotland who coined that description of Fife’s coast; the ragged shoreline being the frayed cloak from which the begging hand of Fife is held out in hope that the sea will provide sustenance. The gold lining perfectly captures the beautiful fishing villages that fringe the East Neuk, especially when the phosphorescent orange street lamps are aglow and the houses are lit up and cosy on a cold winter’s night.

I came to hear of it one Saturday morning a few weeks ago when my phone pinged to inform me that another painting had sold from my Big Cartel shop. As always, I got in touch with the buyer right away and, after discussing postage and various other details, asked where he’d come across my work.

Back to the beginning

The reply was so very unexpected and it not only made my day but also gave me the biggest confidence boost an artist could wish for.

The answer had its roots way back when I first started exhibiting in 2008. In fact, it was at the first exhibition I ever entered (the annual open at Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery) that Jim had spotted my work. It was an oil painting of a row of typically-colourful cottages all huddled together along the shore, looking almost fearful of the next incoming tide. I’d given it the title Awaiting The Turn of The Tide with that thought in mind.

East Neuk (Starry Night)

A few days after the opening I returned to see the whole show and was thrilled to find my first ever red dot. The painting really seemed to glow and stand out quite nicely in that large space. I walked out with my feet in the air and feeling this idea of being an artist I’d had for a while might just work!

But you never really think about all the other people who might stop and have a look at your efforts in a gallery. So it came as a big surprise to hear that it was way back then that my new buyer informed me he had first seen my work. He had gone in on a mission to find inspiration for a song he was trying to write for a performance he’d soon be giving at that year’s Stanza Poetry Festival in St Andrews. The song had to capture that ‘beggar’s mantle fringed with gold’ feeling. He told me that it was my painting of glowing cottages tumbling down into the sea that had helped him to visualise an idea of what he wanted to capture in words. He went off and wrote the lyrics below for Dances With Angels, performed it at Stanza and that, as they say, was that. 

East Neuk (Crescent Moon)

But now, 12 years later and living in Kent, he told me he’d always remembered that painting (someone else had bought it) and was now in a position to buy one of my East Neuk pictures for himself. In fact, he’d had a hard job choosing between the two I had for sale on my website and a couple of days later he ended up buying the other one as well. (The two paintings directly above.)

That he’d remembered my work all that time was incredibly uplifting for me. But that it had also helped him to write his lovely song was just wonderful to discover all these years later.

And so One thing leads to another

Jim has since gifted me a cd of his work, much of which has been covered by internationally renowned folk singer June Tabor. It’s a wonderful, highly evocative album and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves great music and the romance of the sea – and the East Neuk of Fife in particular. It’s called Diamonds In The Night by Andy Shanks and Jim Russell and is available to download at Amazon or from Greentrax Records. Dances With Angels isn’t on this album, but here’s a link to a Youtube video of Andy and Jim performing it live in Orkney back in 2000.

I think it’s great when work made in one art form inspires and informs that made in another. And to have had a wee part in that myself is a lovely thing! 

I’ll be listening to Diamonds in The Night a lot this winter while I work, and I’m sure it will in turn inspire many more pictures that are still to be conjured up and painted into existence.

Dances With Angels, words by Jim Russell

The whole town is tumbling down to the sea,

Footsteps we left in the sand

Are gone when the moon pulls up the tide

Changing the paths we had planned.

Where is my comfort? There’s no angels here,

Unless they’re all hiding their wings,

Or dancing in small towns with strangers like me,

Hoping tomorrow brings.

Dances with angels

Dances with angels

They say angels dance by the steeple clock moon

With lighthouses flashing like stars,

Casting shadows and shapes and turning in time

To the staggering songs from the bars.

Now we travel with care and the tracks of our lives

Are a cage, but if you break free,

Go tumbling and turning then soaring like gulls,

Crow stepping down to the sea!

But where is my comfort? There’s no angels here,

Unless their all hiding their wings,

Or dancing in small towns with strangers like me,

Hoping tomorrow brings.

Dances with Angels

Dances with Angels

The streets are all dancing

The children are dancing

The songs from the bars spin around with the stars.

The ghosts are all dancing

The ministers dancing

The waves are all dancing

Tonight the whole town is dancing.

    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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      Paintings, Etchings and Galleries Galore!

       

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      Though I may not look it in this photo, I am pretty happy right now! Mainly because it has been a fantastic and very busy few weeks!

      First of all there was my solo show during November at the Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline. There was a great turnout at the preview night, with over 100 people coming along in total. It was great to sell some paintings and also to have a chance to get some feedback on my most recent work, which I’m glad to say was very positive.

      Then there was the Edinburgh Art Fair, where I was showing some of my etchings and demonstrating printmaking techniques alongside my Fife Dunfermline Printmaking Workshop colleagues. Once again, the place was heaving for 3 days and it was wonderful to be part of such a hugely popular event.

      And just this past weekend we threw our Fire Station Creative studio doors open to the public (over 1500 of them in all) and let them see where we do our stuff and how we do it. Again, it was fantastic to get to speak to lots of lovely and very interested people about my work in general, my recent lighthouse project and travels in particular and also to share some of my techniques and ideas. I also got lots of encouraging feedback about my work, which is always more than welcome! I’m really looking forward to the next open studios event when it comes.

      The Bass Rock Lighthouse
      The Bass Rock Lighthouse

      This afternoon I delivered 4 of my recent paintings of lighthouses to Morningside Gallery in Edinburgh, including this one above of the Bass Rock Lighthouse (80x80cm, oil on canvas). They also have a selection of my etchings and some other paintings for sale too.

      I’ll be taking some more paintings and prints to Marchmont Gallery this weekend, including my Super Moon etching (48x58cm) which features below. Despite being rather large, this has proved to be my most popular etching to date and I’ll be busy over the next week or so pulling several more prints from the large etched copper plate in order to meet the orders I’ve taken in the past couple of weeks.

      There’s still time to order a Super Moon print or any of my others and have it ready before Christmas if you’re quick by the way! Drop me an email if you are interested. Also, see and ‘like’ my Facebook page Clive Ramage Artist for regular updates on my work, pictures and exhibition info.

      Super Moon
      Super Moon

       

          Making Headlines

          Here’s a link to a piece in this week’s Dunfermline Press about my show Northern Lights -An Artistic Odyssey of Scotland’s Coast.

          With my painting The Bass Rock Light
          With my painting The Bass Rock Light

           

          Text from article below:

          BE captivated by the beauty of Scotland’s breathtaking seascapes and lighthouses at the Fire Station Creative’s latest exhibition.

          ‘Northern Lights: An Artistic Odyssey of Scotland’, the first solo exhibition by self-taught Dunfermline artist Clive Ramage, 45, launched at the weekend and will run until November 22.

          The artworks on display are based on Clive’s year-long travels in his camper van around Scotland documenting the landscape and scenery from Stromness to the Mull of Galloway, after being awarded a grant by Fife Contemporary Arts and Crafts.

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          The inspiration for the project came from Clive’s childhood experiences growing up in Arbroath.

          He said, “I’ve always been drawn to the sea. Each night, like clockwork, the Bell Rock, Isle of May and Fife Ness lights would intermittently flash their beams out across the cold, dark sea and I would watch – mesmerised at my bedroom window.

          “Those magical, exotic lights across the sea have continued to tantalise and inspire me and I have always wanted to capture something of that magic and atmosphere in pictorial form.”

          The effects of the weather also provided their own inspiration for Clive’s paintings.

          “The colours and atmosphere of each location probably became the more important feature of the work,” he explained.

          “It wasn’t so much the lights themselves that were intriguing me pictorially, but the wild spaces between them, the surrounding landscapes.”

          Clive has previously exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

          He is also a member of the Fife Dunfermline Printmakers Workshops and rents a studio in the former fire station.

          He added, “Fire Station Creative is such a beautifully renovated space for exhibiting artworks.

          “The wonderful Fife coast and the East Neuk in particular have also proved to be a huge inspiration to me, so it will be great to be show some of that work here too.”

          Gallery curator Ian Moir said, “We’re really proud to be showing off the talent that comes from our own studios.

          “I think this exhibition will be well-received by the public. The subject matter is very accessible and the artworks have been extremely well-executed. It’s going to be a great show.”

          Entry is free. The gallery is open from 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

            Northern Lights – Now showing at Fire Station Creative, Dunfermline

            Here are a selection of some of the paintings currently on show at Fire Station Creative. All are for sale.

                Edinburgh Art Fair

                The Old Town, Edinburgh
                The Old Town, Edinburgh

                As well as having the solo paintings show on at Fire Station Creative, Dunfermline, right now, I will also have some of my Edinburgh etchings on show and available for sale at Edinburgh Art Fair this weekend.

                Please click the links for more info! I’ll be demonstrating printmaking techniques there tomorrow, so stop by and say hello and have a go yourself if you can make it!

                Hope to see you there!

                Clive

                  At the banquet (or not)!

                  I wish it wasn’t just my paintings and prints that will be attending tonight’s wonderful looking banquet at the Abbot House. They’ll be adorning these fine medieval walls for the coming weeks, so drop by and have a gander if you’re in the vicinity. All are for sale just in case you’re still on the hunt for something with a very personal touch and created by my own not-so-fair hands!

                  The Banqueting Hall at Abbot House, Dunfermline
                  The Banqueting Hall at Abbot House, Dunfermline

                    Open Studio again!

                    I’ve decided to throw open my medieval studio door again this weekend, but it’ll be on Sunday instead of Saturday. Hopefully that means a few more folk who couldn’t make it last time can do so this time round. So please come along between 11am and 4pm for a final chance to pick up a great bargain limited edition etching or painting before Christmas!!

                    Edinburgh Castle From The Grassmarket
                    Edinburgh Castle From The Grassmarket

                     

                      A Fantastic Open Day and a magical night in Edinburgh!

                      Yesterday’s open studio day turned out to be fantastic in many ways. I met some lovely new people who made the extra effort to climb all those stairs to my studio and, thankfully, their thoughts and impressions of my work were very positive – always good to hear! It was also great to catch up with a few old friends too.

                      As well as being an opportunity to sell and show my work to new clients, the viewing also provided me with a chance to see a lot of the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years framed and hung together as a collection, instead of being shipped off to various galleries, where there is often little opportunity to see that or to get a feel for how it’s all going or any feedback from clients. That was very useful, as sometimes it’s difficult for me to see the cohesion that exists between the individual pieces I’m working on at any given time. This is particularly the case with the etchings, as it can take a pretty long time to complete the whole process of making them and I usually like to work on just the one or two at a time. I think it all worked well together as a whole though, and seeing it all together gave me a few ideas for new pieces to add to my series of etchings and paintings.

                      I enjoyed the whole experience so much I will be doing it all again this coming Sunday. So if you couldn’t make it this time, please come along between 11-4pm at the Abbot House!

                      So after a very long but productive week and a successful day yesterday, I decided to crack open the gluhwein and sample the Christmas festivities on offer at Edinburgh’s Winter Wonderland. I feel very lucky to have what I think is probably the most beautiful city in the world – especially at Christmas – right on my doorstep. And what artist could fail to be inspired by scenes such is this!

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                      Edinburgh’s Spectacular Winter Wonderland