arTay 2022 – Part of Perth Festival Of The Arts

Where There Is Light, oil on wood panel – 78cm x 78cm (framed)

After 2 year’s absence from the art show calendar, I really can’t wait for arTay 2022, which opens at 10am in Perth this coming Thursday 19th May and runs until 7.30pm on Sunday 22nd.

Every May, and as if by magic, a large marquee appears next to Perth’s Concert Hall and is filled to the brim with a great assortment of fantastic artworks.

Dubh Artach, oil on wood panel – 75x75cm (framed)

But all the real magic is what’s on show inside the marquee!

With more than 70 artists taking part and a few hundred pictures to hang and label, it’s a challenge to get it all done and looking great in just a few hours. It’s not all hard work though and there’s always a great atmosphere, with Hugh and his team making it all the more fun by providing lots of coffee and cakes to keep us all going until the show is hung. Remarkably – considering the often competative nature of a typical ‘hang’, and with so many artistic egos to be found in one relatively small compass – I have yet to witness a punch up!

Rattray Head, oil on canvas – 57cm x 57cm (framed)

As well as helping to hang the show on Wednesday, I’m also very much looking forward to catching up with lots of artist friends and maybe matching some new faces to familiar pictures and names too.

So these are the four paintings I’ll have in the show. Three fairly large atmospheric lighthouse oils and my latest dreamscape (or ‘longing’) painting of Edinburgh, as seen at night from across the Firth of Forth.

[Contact Hugh at Frames Gallery, Perth for more details, or if you would like to reserve one of these paintings. Tel: 01738 631085]

Edinburgh Nocturne, oil on canvas – 95x95cm (framed)=

If you happen to be in or near Perth then do come along and see a huge variety of great work by some of the country’s best artists. Along with many of the other artists, I’ll be at the ‘arTay Party’ preview on Friday 20th from 6pm.
Hope to see some of you there too!

Frames Gallery

10 Victoria Street, Perth, Scotland, PH2 8LW
01738 631085
info@framesgallery.co.uk

House Music, a new album by Tom Baird

House Music by Tom Baird

I’m delighted to have one of my pieces used as the cover art for a fantastic new album by Scottish musician Tom Baird.

Tom got in touch with me last November, having spotted some of my work in a Facebook post by Braemar Gallery. At that point he was just finishing off the recordings and was looking for something different for the cover that would help illustrate the overall feel of his collection of new songs.

He particularly liked my Little Cottage series and East Neuk pictures and thought one of them would make a good cover. The album’s working title at this point was This Old Town, the name of one of the tunes, and he initially considered the East Neuk (Shooting Star) picture below for that.

East Neuk (Shooting Star)

But in the end it became House Music (Tom has a home recording studio and did all the work on the album there) and so it seemed a perfect fit to have one of my Little Cottage pictures to illustrate that. He felt Autumn Bothy By The Sea stood out because the yellow roof against the blue sky was particularly striking and, I have to say, I’m delighted with the final result!

House Music album back

The album has 12 great songs, all brilliantly written, performed and produced by Tom. It won’t be out until 10th June, but he kindly gave me a few copies and I’ve had it on repeat since getting it. I’ve been very impressed by the diversity and quality of all the album tracks, but my current favourite is the new single Peace Pipe. It’s short and snappy and a real belter of a tune, with a few surprising twists and turns in the music and also the philosophical (with a large dose of irony!) lyrics too. Several of Tom’s songs have been played regularly by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music and on Radio Scotland and you can hear Peace Pipe and lots of his other excellent releases right now on Spotify.

I always fancied doing a book or an album cover so what an absolute privilege to have one of my pictures on the front of this great album by a very talanted songwriter!

Find out more about Tom and have a listen to his great music yourself by clicking the links below:

Tom Baird Bandcamp

Rutland Square, Edinburgh – A Commission

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.

Stage 1.

Initial pencil drawing on Saunders Waterford 425 gsm rough watercolour paper.

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.

Stage 2.

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 …

Stage 3.

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.

Stage 4.

More washes added to the building and the window panes blocked in. It’s starting to take shape.

Stage 5

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.

Stage 6.

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!

 

New Work at Ballater Gallery

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, oil on canvas (24×12” unframed) – buzzard or seagull?

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.

Bell Rock (Nocturne) oil on wood panel (24×24” unframed) – Arbroath’s flickering lights far right – SOLD 🔴

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 (Twilight), mixed media over etching (26×20” unframed) – over 500 individual window panes, I’ve counted!

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.

My partner Pam providing a little scale …

 

 

 

The Printmakers 2022 at Frames Gallery, Perth

 

A Hot Summer’s Day, Elie 🔴

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.

The North Face, Ben Nevis 🔴

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.

Spanish Hornet (ii) 🔴

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.

Edinburgh Castle
The Old Wooden Pier, Culross
Blue Moon
Dean Village, Edinburgh
The Old Iron Pier, Aberdour

Heriot Gallery Winter 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.

The Old Town, Edinburgh (Twilight), Mixed media 65×50 (image size)

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.

Ramsay Garden (ii), Mixed media 60x18cm (image size)

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.

Dean Village, Edinburgh, Mixed media 65×50 (image size)

I’m currently working on some new Edinburgh-based oil paintings for that, so watch this space for further details … !

St Monans (Blue & Red Boat With Smoking Chimneys), 35x15cm (image size)

Studio News

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
Bennachie (WIP)

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.

Watch this space!

The Old Iron Pier, Aberdour

My Work Featured in The Fortnightly Review

The Old Iron, Aberdour

One of the greatest joys of being an artist, alongside getting to do what you love on a daily basis, is when you get a request to use one of your pieces for something other than to adorn a wall.

Over the years, my work has been used to promote whisky (Tobermory) as well as various exhibitions, including the RSA and SSA annual open shows. More recently I was contacted by The Fortnightly Review with a request to use my etching of The Old Pier, Aberdour to illustrate a memoir they were about to publish by author John Matthias. Of course I gave my consent and was delighted to be given an opportunity to have my work published in such an august and highly respected literary journal.

The memoir itself is the fascinating and highly evocative story of a family who have had a very close personal connection with Aberdour and the old iron pier over the past 100 years. I loved reading how that decrepit old pile of rusted iron had once played a significant role in the First World War, allowing naval sailors to land closer to home in Fife before their battleships went on to dock at Rosyth further round the coast. Never in a million years would I have guessed at anything of this history and, had I not made that etching and posted a picture of it on my website, the editor would never have contacted me and I’d still be unaware of the intriguing past life of what is a very familiar landmark! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, art often opens up conversations that can lead to the forming of new relationships, business ventures or even inspire all kinds of other things which might not otherwise happen or … or in this case, be discovered.

I was particularly surprised to read that the entire Grand Fleet of the British navy – comprising scores of battleships and support vessels – had dropped anchor in the Firth of Forth on 11th November 1918 (Armistice Day). And how there had been “excuberant rejoicing” with fireworks and dancing on board the ships that lay across the length and breadth of the firth like a pontoon bridge when the Germans finally surrendered.

The Old Iron, Aberdour

I currently have 2 of these etchings available at half price in my Big Cartel shop. That’s just £100 each using discount code 5WXW5X. Click here to visit my shop or send me an email if you’d like more information and .

To find out more about the pier and to read this beautifully evocative memoir of life in and around Aberdour during wartime, and through the decades since, click here.

Here’s a link to some incredible footage showing the Grand Fleet at sea during WW1.

Bass Rock show at Fidra Fine Art, Gullane. Only 1 week left!

The Bass Rock (Nocturne)
Oil on wood panel
60x40cm
£1450

Just over a week to see this amazing show of 70 pictures by 30 artist at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane. All of whom have been inspired by the sheer beauty of the Bass Rock.

Bass Rock

4 September to 3 October

Featuring:

Julia Albert-Recht, Claire Beattie, George Birrell, John Boak, Georgina Bown, Davy Brown, Dominique Cameron, Alan Connell, Ann Cowan, Fee Dickson, Matthew Draper, Michael Durning, Ronnie Fulton, Andy Heald, David E Johnston, John Johnstone, Suzanne Kirk, Simon Laurie, Neil Macdonald, Julia McNairn White, Rachel Marshall, Ann Oram, Clive Ramage, Gregory Rankine, Pen Reid, Pascale Rentsch, Arran Ross, Jayne Stokes, Astrid Trügg and Darren Woodhead.

It has cast its spell over artists and writers such as Turner and Robert Louis Stevenson. In the 17th century, it was dubbed Scotland’s Alcatraz following Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland. Now the Bass Rock, which sits a few miles off the coast of North Berwick in East Lothian, is to be the subject of our latest exhibition.

Around 30 artists have been invited to present their unique view of the famous volcanic plug, which is home to 350,000 seabirds, including over 150,000 gannets – the largest ‘single rock’ colony of northern gannets on earth.

It is an irresistible, imposing, brooding and beautiful muse for artists and it has inspired a fascinating and varied collection of work for this show.

The exhibition continues until Sunday 3 October, I hope you will be able to come and view the work “in the flesh”.

Some more pictures from the show

arTay 2020 is online now … and you can see and buy 2 of my paintings there!

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.

And here’s a link to what’s available and more details.

Dubh Artach Lighthouse (Nocturne), acrylic on wood panel 67x68cm in frame
St Monans, acrylic on wood panel 108x70cm in frame