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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a quick note to tellk you about two paintings I have available to buy at arTay 2020. It’s an online only show, of course, but still runs for just 4 days (ending on Sunday 31st May). So you best get in quick if you want to buy one of these two or something else from one of the 80 artists also showing.
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
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.
Only 2 weeks to go until my solo exhibition at Fire Station Creative. Here are some words and pictures to help shed some light on what will be hanging on the walls there. The preview will be held between 7.30-10pm on Friday 6th November and the show runs until Sunday 22 November. I hope to see there.
I grew up in Arbroath, so have always been drawn to the sea. Each night, like clockwork, the Bell Rock, the Isle of May and the Fife Ness lights would intermittently flash their beams out across the cold, dark sea miles and I would watch – mesmerised at my bedroom window. I’d follow the fishing boats as they puttered out into the firth from the harbour, eventually becoming little more than red and green dots that slowly edged beyond the moonlit horizon. The twinkling orange lamps of St Andrews and Kingsbarns would beckon to me from far away across the Firth of Tay and illuminate my dreams. Those mysterious, 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. So my campervan travels around Scotland’s coast this year have provided me with a wealth of inspiration for new paintings and etchings; I feel I have barely begun to scratch the surface with the work for this exhibition.
I quickly discovered that it wasn’t so much the lights themselves that were interesting me pictorially, but their situations within the surrounding landscape and the wild spaces between them. Lighthouses proved to be a wonderful general theme for the trip and also a great focal point for some of the paintings, but the ‘interesting’ Scottish weather and the colours and atmosphere of each location probably became the more important feature of the work.
I was very fortunate to be awarded a grant by Fife Contemporary Arts and Crafts to help fund my travels, which took me from The Mull of Galloway at the south western tip of Scotland to Stromness in Orkney. I have yet to reach Muckle Flugga, Scotland’s most northernly lighthouse, but I will get there one of these days!