Scottish Landscape Awards at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh (4 Nov 2023 – 3 March 2024)

Saturday 4 November saw the opening of the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards (SLAs) at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

And I was delighted to be able to attend the highly anticipated private view of this prestigious new exhibition the evening before, having had my etching of Dunnottar Castle shortlisted for the SLAs back in July.

It was one of only 133 artworks to be shortlisted from almost 3000 entries and, although it didn’t win a prize, I was extremely proud to see it hanging in a fantastic spot in one of the country’s best and most visited public galleries.

Dunnottar Castle, etching and aquatint

It was a wonderful evening of catching up with some old friends in my former Edinburgh stomping ground, as well as meeting a few of my own favourite artists for the first time. It also allowed me to see what’s happening right now at the sharp end of Scottish landscape painting and printmaking.

The variety of work on show at the Scottish Landscape Awards – not to mention the talent and skill employed to create it – ensure that this is a hugely enjoyable exhibition for artists and art lovers alike, showcasing the country’s huge diversity in subject matter and the many different and intriguing techniques used to create the pieces.

My partner Pam who accompanied me on the night

And, of course, its always great to see your work shown alongside your peers and some of this country’s most successful and admired artists.

Barbra Rae announcing the SLA winners (photo by Greg Macvean)

My image of Dunnottar Castle came about as part of a commission I was awarded by Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums in January 2023. Click here to learn more about and the various printmaking methods I used in its creation. I am also very proud to have an artist’s proof of this print, along with the 3 others I produced for that commission, in Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums’ permanent art collection.

Describing my working methods to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums at the city’s Treasure Hub earlier this year on completion of the commission

This has been a particularly busy and hugely rewarding year for me so far: with two successful solo shows under my belt at Frames Gallery in Perth and Inverness Creative Academy; the aforementioned commission from Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums; and another for luxury Edinburgh-based leather goods brand Strathberry Ltd (of which there will be more to report soon).

At the Scottish Landscape Awards private view with my show catalogue and print of Dunnottar Castle

And having my work included in the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards exhibition, as well as featured in the gorgeous catalogue that accompanies the show, means that this has also been my most successful year to date.

Meffan Winter Show 2023

But it doesn’t end there for 2023, or for this particular print! I am happy to say that Dunnottar Castle is also featured in the Meffan Art Gallery annual winter show, which opened in Forfar on Friday 10 November.

As for the rest of the year, I will be working hard to produce new paintings and prints for my next solo show, which is at Graystone Gallery in Edinburgh in February. Details to follow, but I am excited to be the first artist to have a solo show at their brand-new gallery premises in Stockbridge.

The Scottish Landscape Awards is on until 3 March 2024 at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh. Click here to buy a gorgeous catalogue featuring every picture in the exhibition.

Dunnottar Castle, in a limited edition of only 40 signed and numbered prints, is currently available to purchase (in a frame) at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh and the Meffan Institute, Forfar. Unframed prints can also be bought directly from my shop by clicking here.

St Columba’s Hospice Art Show – opens in Edinburgh this Sat 28 October

Just a quick update to say I have 4 etchings for sale as part of the annual St Columba’s Hospice charity fundraising event, which opens to the public this Saturday 28th October at 10am.

The Bell Rock, photopolymer etching (42x42cm)

I’ve been taking part in this fantastic event every year for almost a decade and it’s always a great show. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever with paintings and prints by over 70 artists, alongside a selection of sculptures, ceramics and tapestries.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh, etching (16x21cm)

Buying art, helping others

At least 50% of every penny spent on art over this weekend goes directly to the charity, so it’s a great way to buy something you’ll love and cherish forever while helping the hospice continue to do its incredible work.

This year I have contributed the 4 pieces you can see here. But you’ve only got 2 days to see the show in person and snap them up (although the works can be viewed and purchased online between 10am Saturday 28th October and Friday 3rd November). Click here for the direct link to the online exhibition!

Fidra, photopolymer etching (19x42cm)

So if you’re in Edinburgh or fancy a day out then get along to the stunning St Columba’s Hospice building this coming Saturday or Sunday between 10-4pm and treat yourself to something beautiful … you know you deserve it! It’s worth the trip for the incredible views across the Firth of Forth alone!

Here’s where to find the art show. It’s free to enter and on-street parking is available:

17 Boswall Road, Edinburgh EH5 3RW

Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums – Micro Commission

I was initially told about the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums (AAGM) Micro-commissions by a studio colleague the day before the deadline. I was in the middle of moving into my new studio and packing for a New Year trip to Crovie the following day. However, as a relative newcomer to Aberdeen and having spent many hours admiring the gallery’s fantastic collection, my interest had been piqued! I downloaded the application form and had a first draft written within an hour.

At the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums’ (AAGM) Treasure Hub where I gave a talk about my Micro Commission work to the Friends of AAGM

The brief

Applicants were asked to say something about their lived experience in the city, addressing themes that might include social justice, climate change, identity, well-being and migration, while responding to something that was already part of the AAGM collection.

I thought it could be a challenge to come up with an exciting print-based project that would test some of my recently acquired printmaking skills, especially in screen and photopolymer printing. And, in the unlikely event my proposal was successful, I might just about manage to complete the rather ambitious project I had put together in my mind, despite having already committed to 2 solo shows and another important commission – all of which were to be fulfilled before the AAGM June deadline!

No holiday for me … not yet anyway!

So the first day of our supposedly relaxing holiday was spent editing my application (with considerable help from my patient and very understanding partner Pam) and it was submitted within an hour of the deadline.

Having never applied for anything like this before, I resignedly put the whole experience down to good practice and relaxed for the rest of our trip.

Success!

Around 4 weeks later, having forgotten all about my application and while frantically finishing several paintings and working on the final preparations for my early March solo show, I received an email to say my proposal had in fact been successful!

My initial elation and surprise at this great news were suddenly followed by a gut-wrenching dread that I might just have overstretched myself! But I do love a challenge and that’s exactly what the following 5 months proved to be!

The final 3 prints that make up the triptych: Disintegration, Transformation & Anticipation. I named the triptych with a nod to the 3 institutions that feature in the middle print; namely the Central Library, St Mark’s Church & His Majesty’s Theatre, collectively known by locals as Education, Salvation & Damnation.

The Proposal

In selecting a work from the AAGM collection as an initial reference for my own project, John Piper’s powerfully atmospheric painting of Dunnottar Castle immediately sprang to mind. Like many of his works, it perfectly captures with great drama and deceptive simplicity the beauty that can often be found even in a crumbling old building. This got me thinking about how the disintegration of one thing can lead to something new and possibly even more beautiful in its place (a painting in this instance, but also the castle itself).

Dunnottar Castle by John Piper

From here I travelled north in my mind to Aberdeen city centre and thought of the recently opened Union Terrace Gardens and how they have helped to rejuvenate that part of the city.

Newly reopened and rejuvenated Union Terrace Gardens (January 2023)

I then took a short trip across Union Street to the recently demolished Aberdeen Market and pondered how that has provided an opportunity (and also hope) that something better might arise out of the dust and rubble.

The currently vacant site of the old Aberdeen Market

I decided to produce a triptych of handmade prints exploring the theme of disintegration in relation to those three well-loved local sites. To bring these ideas to fruition I wanted to use three different printmaking techniques, which would reflect the past, present and future in their own way.

Three Different subjects printed three different ways

Disintegration

Disintegration, the first piece in the triptych, is a traditional copper-plate etching inspired by John Piper’s painting of Dunnottar Castle.

Disintegration – 40x60cm – copper plate etching with hard ground and aquatint (including sugar lift and spit bite) on Hahnemüle etching paper

 

Inking up the plate

 

Disintegration is signed and ready to deliver to Aberdeen Art Gallery when framed

Transformation

Transformation – 40x76cm – photopolymer etching with chine collé and watercolour on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper

The middle piece, Transformation, depicts Union Terrace Gardens and contrasts old and new features now present in the gardens and also in the methods used to create the print.

Chine collé tissue cut to shape for adding colour to the etching

It combines very traditional etching techniques like chine collé above to add colour  to the print …

An acetate was used to expose the image onto a photopolymer-coated steel plate

… alongside methods employed in contemporary digital photography.

Transformation completed at Peacock Print Studio in Aberdeen and ready for the AAGM collection

Anticipation

Anticipation – 40x60cm – screen print on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper

Anticipation focuses on the Aberdeen Market area and poses the question: what does the future hold for this site?

Making a composite of the various pictorial elements in Photoshop

Photoshop was used to combine a drone-captured digital image with an interpretation of the Herakut mural from the old Aberdeen Market.

A proof incorporating the hand-painted golden question mark

 

The final image of the triptych, Anticipation, is signed and ready to frame

The Micro Commission Experience

Working on the AAGM Micro-commission has been a fantastic experience as well as a great opportunity to learn. Not only because it has allowed me to develop and test my skills in traditional and photopolymer etching, as well as screen printing, but the funding that was provided by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums has also enabled me to produce an entirely new stand-alone series of prints that are quite different from anything I have done before. It is also wonderful to know that my triptych has been accessioned into the AAGM permanent collection.

Describing the processes involved in producing each print at Aberdeen’s Treasure Hub

I would advise anyone who is interested in applying to the next round of Micro-commissions to absolutely go for it. This has been a hugely rewarding experience and has shown me what I can achieve under intense pressure.

And finally …

Finally, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for providing the £2500 funding that enabled my Micro Commission, and many thanks also to Shona Elliot and all the staff at AAGM for their excellent support throughout. I’d also like to thank the staff at Peacock Print Studio and, in particular, James Vaas and Struan Hamilton who have both been very generous with their time, patience and expertise throughout this process.

I will put together another post soon where I will go into more detail about the making of each print in the triptych … watch this space!

Last week of my show at Inverness Creative Academy – Artist talk Fri 14th July

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.

Open daily until then 10-5pm.

Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon at Inverness Creative Academy (Until 15 July)

I am delighted to announce that Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon, my latest solo exhibition, is now on show at Inverness Creative Academy.

Inverness Creative Academy, just a 2 minute walk up the hill from the Eastgate in the city centre and 5 minute walk from the train station

The Assembly Hall at ICA has to be the most beautiful gallery space I’ve ever seen, never mind shown my work in, and I’m delighted with how my 20 paintings and 18 prints look in such a fabulously well-lit and stunning exhibition space.

The staircase provided the perfect place for my 3 Glitter Moons, leading visitors to the upstairs level to where my etchings and watercolours are hanging.

A panoramic view of the landing where 13 of my etchings are on show

The whole gallery benefits from wonderful natural light provided by the many windows and the great arched window on the stairwell. In addition to that there’s a spotlight above every single picture and this really shows off my work beautifully.

Photo etchings, oil and watercolour paintings and my partner Pam enjoying a cup of tea in the cafe
I had some incredible help over the two-day installation from resident artist and ICA technician Martin Irish
The view from upstairs showing my oil and watercolour paintings

And before even half of my pictures were on the walls I was presented with a glowing review of the show by Gael Hillyard, who did a wonderful job of describing the effect my oil paintings and Glitter Moons had on her. Read the full review here.

Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon continues until 15 July and the gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-5pm and 9-3pm on Saturdays (free entry).

Solo Show at Inverness Creative Academy (10 June – 15 July)

Saturday 10th June marks the opening of my first ever solo show in Inverness.

With this body of work I hope to showcase both my varied interests and inspirations as a landscape artist, as well as the many techniques I use and often combine in their creation.

The Bell Rock (Twilight)

In conjunction with Wasps Artist Studios, I will present around 30 pieces in total. These will include dramatic new oil paintings of Neist Point and Isle Ornsay in Skye, alongside several mixed-media cityscapes of Edinburgh and surroundings.

Neist Point, Skye

Isle Ornsay (detail from wip)

Towards Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Fidra Lighthouse

Also on show will be a selection of atmospheric etchings featuring, among other things, several Scottish lighthouses, castles and mountains.

Dunnottar Castle

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

North Face, Ben Nevis

There will also be 3 different coloured versions of my recent series of Glitter Moon limited-edition handmade prints, framed with non-reflective glass and available to buy for only the second time.

Glitter Moons – Yellow, Blue & Red, etching and screenprint, 47x57cm (individual image size)

So, all in all, there will be plenty to see across the two floors my show will occupy.

I will be at Inverness Creative Academy between 12-4pm for the opening on Saturday 10 June, so please come along if you are in the area. It would be great to see you there!

Opening Night of my Solo Show – Frames Gallery, Perth – 3 March 2023

Minutes before the doors opened

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.

A quick spin around the show!

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.

Glitter Moons, watercolours and etchings
Etchings and oils with a sea theme in the main

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!

The first picture to sold was one of the largest, Muckle Flugga, oil on canvas

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.

Two more of my lighthouse oil paintings sold on opening night!

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.

 

Happy New Year and Happy New Studio!

Just a quick post to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

In my newly set up studio at Langstane Place, Aberdeen

I am especially grateful to those of you who have very kindly supported me by purshcasing my work this past year and in previous years too! Every single painting and print that you buy really does help me to continue to keep making new work, and for that I am extremely grateful! And, while I love what I do, it’s not always easy to keep going, especially in this economic climate.

Pam helping me out (as she always does!) in the new studio

But very special thanks must be given to my truly wonderful, kind and ever-supportive partner Pam. Without her help in so many ways, without her great patience, kindness and generosity and her all-round gorgousness life would simply be so much harder indeed! I love you Pammy and want to say the biggest !!THANK YOU!! from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done and still do for me! You really are the best!!

There’s plenty more to write about just now and I’ll post a fuller update on my recent studio move and some upcoming solo shows very soon. But in the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year and here’s to a highly creative, productive, successful and – not least – fun-filled 2023!

Blue Moon SOLD OUT!

Blue Moon

My Blue Moon numbered edition has now SOLD OUT!!

I will have a few artist proofs available to buy soon and they can be reserved by contacting me directly. Click here to reserve yours now!

However, the first and original Super Moon is still available to buy here!

Super Moon

And, if you’re quick, you still have time to grab one before Christmas!
Better still, you can get 25% off the usual price using discount code BLACKFRIDAY

… but only until tomorrow at 11.55pm!

And there’s 25% OFF all my other prints too!

Click here for a bargain!

Black Friday Sale – 25% Discount off all my prints online!!

It’s that time of year when everyone’s looking for a good deal. So I’ve decided to offer a HUGE 25% Black Friday DISCOUNT on all my giclée prints and etchings for a very limited time only. (Ends Sun 27th Nov at 11.55pm)

Dean Village (Sunset) – 65x50cm (usual price £150 – now £112.50)

So if you’re looking for an extra special and very personal Christmas present for yourself or a loved one then look no further!

The Old Town, Edinburgh – 65x50cm (usual price £150 – now £112.50)

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.

Towards Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh – 45x33cm (usual price £95 – now £71.25)

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!]

Blue Moon A/P – etching 57x47cm image size (usual price £595 – now £446.25)

These are just a few of the pictures available so click here to see them all and remember to use discount code BLACKFRIDAY

My BLACKFRIDAY discount ends Sunday 27 November at 11.55pm!