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.
After almost a year of hard work and preparations, last Friday night saw the opening of my solo show at Frames Gallery in Perth. And what a fantastic night it turned out to be, with almost a quarter of the pictures sold within 2 hours!
But I have to admit that I am always a little anxious when it comes to opening nights, and especially when it’s just my work that’s on show.
There’s a lot of pressure to get everything finished, framed and on the walls on time and I feel that heavily on my shoulders for weeks in advance.
And there’s quite a lot of variety in my work too, so I’m also always wondering how all of those pictures will look when they’re hanging together in one room.
Of course, I’m also hoping there’s going to be a good turnout for the opening, as a great atmosphere always helps to get any show off to the best start.
But in spite of my growing nerves as 6pm approached on the big day, I should really have known that I needn’t have worried! Hugh and his team at the gallery had done a brilliant job of hanging the show and I couldn’t have been happier with how all 45 pictures were presented!
And to add to my great feeling of relief and excitement I was delighted to see that there were already some red dots accompanying pictures before the doors officially opened!
It’s always lovely to chat to the people who have been to my previous shows and have bought my work in the past, and I love to meet those who’ve come along to see it for the first time.
It’s really the one chance I get to hear what people think of my newest work and that feedback is always very helpful when it comes to starting new pictures.
All in all it was a lovely night, with lots of interest and by closing time at 8pm 10 pictures were sold, ranging in price from £250 for a framed etching of Victoria Street in Edinburgh to £3450 for my large oil painting of Muckle Flugga.
I want to say a huge !!THANK YOU!! to Hugh, Julie and Jenny at the gallery for making it such a wonderful event and also to Lucy who so beautifully framed many of the pictures there! Massive thanks also to Kevin at Framing Point in Aberdeen for his incredible service and help over the past couple of years! I can’t recommend both highly enough!
And, finally, thank you so much to everyone who came along on the night, with some of you traveling a fair distance to get there! When you buy my pictures, or any artist’s, you really are helping to ensure that we can keep making more and the world would be a much duller place without art!
Here are some photos from the night. If you couldn’t make it along but still want to see the show, then you still have 2 weeks to go. And if you do go, please let me know what you think.
I am delighted to announce that my first solo show with Frames Gallery in Perth opens in less than a week and will run until 25th March! I have been exhibiting regularly with the gallery since the very earliest days of my artistic adventures, and working with Hugh and his team has always been a great pleasure.
I hope this diverse collection of over 40 paintings and original prints will not only demonstrate my development as a painter and printmaker over the past 15 years, but will also be something of a visual feast. However, that’ll be for you to decide!
Come along and enjoy a glass of wine at the private view this Friday 3rd March 6-8pm at Frames Gallery. It would be great to see you there!
Here is just a little taster of what will be on show …
So if you’re looking for an extra special and very personal Christmas present for yourself or a loved one then look no further!
Select anything from my Big Cartel shop using discount code BLACKFRIDAY and you’ll not only get this great saving but you’ll also receive it carefully wrapped and packaged well before Christmas.
And that includes one of my very rare and highly saught after Blue Moon etchings! There’s just a couple of these available right now, so you’ll have to be quick off the mark to get one at this price – and with almost £150 off the usual price!
[PLEASE NOTE: my Blue Moon numbered edition has now SOLD OUT! See most recent post for details on how to reserve a a very rare Artist Proof Blue Moon!]
Commissions are not something I’ve done a lot of in the past. It’s not that I haven’t been asked, but more that I’ve felt the burden of meeting a client’s expectations a little overwhelming. I think I really just convinced myself over the years that I prefer to do my own thing, which really translates as wishing to remain steadfastly in my comfort zone of doing what I like for myself because … well, there’s no good reason at all!
So when I was asked if I’d be interested in producing a painting of a rather nice block of flats in Edinburgh’s Rutland Square I deliberated for a moment, before deciding it was time to bite the bullet and take up the challenge.
It’s always great to hear how new clients come to find my work and it transpired that this time it came down to a good old Google search for “Edinburgh art”. Quite a few of my paintings came up and that was enough to persuade the client to get in touch.
I then drew over the main pencil lines in permanent ink.
Of course, I do like to draw and paint subjects that interest me and, happily, I liked the building in question and was delighted to have been asked. It’s a lovely compliment, after all, to be commissioned to provide a present for a very special person who will hopefully be able to cherish it for years to come! And it goes without saying that the payment is always most welcome too!
So here are the rest of the stages towards completion …
Initial watercolour washes. The paper was still wet when I took this photo, hence the slightly wobbly look. 425 gsm paper is very thick and doesn’t really need to be stretched. It will ruckle up a little bit with the application of water, but then dry perfectly flat again.
More washes added to the building and the window panes blocked in. It’s starting to take shape.
Feeling quite happy with the results so far, but knowing there’s still a lot of work to be done on the details front. I’m not sure why there’s a large puddle of bright orange in my palette as it’s not a colour I used in this picture.
The finished piece. I have to admit that I really enjoyed working on this over the past few days and, having overcome my reluctance to take on commissions, I very much look forward to doing more of them.
If you like what you see here and wish to commission something personal for yourself (or someone very special) then please feel free to get in touch and we can hopefully make it happen!
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Click here for details and to see what’s in the 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.
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.
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.
I’m currently working on some new Edinburgh-based oil paintings for that, so watch this space for further details … !
I wrote most of the following on New Year’s day 2020, when life seemed a lot more easy and carefree. For some reason though I never got round to posting it on my website. So here’s what I wrote with minor amendments and an updated New Year’s to do list for 2021 …
Scales of Superstition
Over 30 years ago, when I was serving my time as a butcher’s apprentice and life was much simpler, we had a New Year tradition that I’ve since adopted and adapted for myself over the years.
In the last hour of the last working day each year, we’d scrub down our wooden blocks and every other surface in the place. Then we’d clean the mincer, the ham slicer, the dozens of emptied metal meat dishes, the fridges and the cabinets. Finally, our own very personal and prized knives would be cleaned, sharpened and shined until they and absolutely everything else in sight glistened and sparkled.
Everything, that is, except the scales we used to weigh and price the meat we boned, chopped, sliced and sold. Now butcher’s superstition says it’s bad luck to wipe away all traces of the passing year’s prosperity before proceeding into the next. So those scales would remain not only unwashed but positively reeking of last year’s trade. They’d be left bloody and rank throughout the holiday … and the ranker the better! And, if there wasn’t the required degree of meaty residue left after the last sale of the year, then a little mince or steak would be added to the scales for extra good luck. Just in case! It seemed to work and we did get busier each of my 3 years working there.
A Load of Old Claptrap?
But you and me both know that’s all superstitious claptrap and I personally like to think I’m not at all swayed by such nonsense. Sometimes I’ll even walk under a ladder just to prove the point to myself … and nothing bad’s ever happened as a result (well, not to my knowledge anyway!).
But every year I do have my very own New Year ritual (rather than resolution). It’s a tick list of ‘things to do’ before midnight on January 1st. Like last year’s meat left on the scales to usher in a prosperous new year, I tell myself these are the things I need to do to start the year as I mean to go on. I do it all with more than a little hope that whoever/whatever might be up there pulling the strings of good fortune may be paying attention; and that maybe I will be rewarded with success in each of my listed endeavours for 12 coming months as a result of observing this ritual.
So here’s my list for 2021 (and all ticked off before the 2nd, I’m happy to say!)
Wake up without a hangover.
Paint or draw something you’re happy with (I added a moon to a lighthouse picture).
Write something – I repurposed this, which definitely counts!
Walk up a hill (I had a bitterly cold but beautiful afternoon in the Ochils yesterday. See pics).
Say hello to a stranger – done several times on the way up that hill.
Be polite, patient and generous to EVERYONE. This is always included, but still requires further practice and tweeks!
So having acheived all of the above and a couple of other things, I went to bed feeling confident that I should remain busy and happy all year long.
A Treasured Find
As far as continued prosperity goes, I got off to a pretty good start in the early hours of 2020 as I walked home from the pub. I found a £20 note on the pavement. It was folded and clasped in a blue clothes peg. There was nobody around except me so I pocketed it, as I’m sure you would have too. I’ve no idea what the peg represented, but I thanked the fates for dropping it in my path and went on my way. And it’s been in my pocket ever since. And, yes, despite Covid I had a very good year in many ways!
This year I found 10p in the gutter on my way home after the bells. And, despite the comparative reduction in monetary value compared to last year’s treasured find, I’ll also be taking that as a sign that being slightly superstitious can sometimes be a good thing! 10p is better than nothing after all and I’ll be keeping it in my pocket all year long too. Call me superstitious but …
Anyway, if you got this far then I wish you the happiest New Year and a prosperous 2021. And if you didn’t then good luck to you all the same (not that you’ll know)! May all your dreams come true, may your lum aye reek and your scales aye be clarty!