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.

Tuesday 28th Nov is last day of my solo show … that’s tomorrow!

The Gallery

Tomorrow will be the last full day of my show at the Edinburgh Ski Club. 

It has been fantastic to have quite a large body of my work on show in one place again 2 years since my last solo. I’m glad to say the comments and feedback have been very positive from people who already know my work and the many who have come in out of the cold from the street to have a first look.

Harvest, Blue and Super Moons

So if you are able to come along tomorrow or before 2pm on Wednesday 29th November when I’ll begin to take it down then please do come in. 

Here are a couple more pictures and a video to give an idea of how it looks …

Wall of East Neuk hand-painted etchings

(Please ignore the heavy breathing in the video!!)

 

Details for my solo show this November …

There will be a variety of recent watercolours, oil paintings and etchings on show. Proceeds from sales will go towards the costs of a 2 month residency at Castlemaine Press Print Workshop, Australia next year.

Please join me at the private view. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Exhibition News

20 Hand-painted etchings of Edinburgh & the East Neuk of Fife
20 Hand-painted etchings of Edinburgh & the East Neuk of Fife

Here’s some news about some upcoming exhibitions.

I’m happy to say I have a number of exhibitions in the pipeline for this year and this lot of newly framed work will be heading off to a gallery near you in the coming week. I’ll have some of this work in the Gallery at Fifty Five Spring show opening in Stonehaven on 4th March.

There’s also arTay during Perth Festival of the Arts which takes place in May, and either side of that I’ll have work in the Pittenweem Arts & Galleries Weekend along with fellow Fire Station resident artists in April, and at the Fire Station Creative gallery which will be happening around Open Studios time in June. I’ll post the specifics for all of these nearer the times.

In the meantime, I’ll be working mainly on new oil paintings and etchings, including lots based on my recent Cornwall, Devon and East Lothian trips in the campervan.

Follow me on Instagram … and on Facebook

New work to be exhibited at The Quay Gallery, Aberdour

4 Paintings for Quay Gallery
6 New Paintings for Quay Gallery

Just finished these 6 new paintings and will be taking to the framer in edinburgh later this week. They’re off to the Quay Gallery in Aberdour, Fife, in a week or 2 and each is a hand-coloured etching painted in a variety of ways.

The one on the right, The Old Town, Edinburgh, is 65x50cm and was only just finished this morning. It has a watercolour base for the sky and buildings and the hard work was done with my recently aquired Faber & Castell pastel pencils. These were bought on Ebay by accident as I thought I was getting watercolour pencils (I hit the bid button in a bit of a panic to win them). Anyway, I’m glad I did because they are fantastic!

The Old Town, Edinburgh (2)
The Old Town, Edinburgh (2)

The middle painting, the 4th in my Dean Village series, is maianly watercolour over etching with a little copper acrylic for some of the roofs. It’s roughly the same size as Old Town.

Dean Village, Dusk (copper roofs)
Dean Village, Dusk (copper roofs)

The other four paintings are done over 2 etchings of East Neuk scenes. Again, watercolour base with pastel and gouache for the buildings.

East Neuk Paintings
East Neuk Paintings

If you have the time do go to the Quay Gallery in Aberdour. It’s a beautiful gallery and just happens to be in one of the loveliest seaside towns in Scotland. But wait a week or two!!

 

Busy Month Behind and a Busier Month Ahead

Bass Rock Lighthouse
Bass Rock Lighthouse (SOLD at Maggies Cancer Care charity event)

The past few weeks have been extremely busy what with deadlines for various exhibitions, including those organised by the RSA, the SSA, the National Original Print Exhibition and the International Print Biennial. On top of that, my work has been included in 2 exhibitions in support of Maggies Cancer Care and the St Columbas Hospice in Edinburgh. I was delighted to have sold 4 large works in these, raising over £1500 in the process to share between these two deserving causes.

July will hopefully prove to be just as busy. But that’s over a week away and there’s lots of painting to be done now. I’m currently working on a series of small hand-painted etchings that have been sat in my drawers for the past couple of years gathering dust. The most recent of which has since been dusted with gold leaf and can be seen along with some of the others in the Watercolours & Etchings gallery. Some of these will be distributed to galleries in the next week or so. But if you like anything you see on my website do feel free to get in touch with me at cliveramage@gmail.com

I’ll also be working on the latest Dean Village hand-painted etching this week, which will be a blue and gold night time version (similar colours to that East Neuk etching mentioned above). This will be the 4th one of the 10 of these I have planned. I’m excited to see how this one and the 6 others will turn out. Watch this space as I’ll post updates here of how they are progressing.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 16.08.22

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.

[ssboost url=http://www.cliveramage.com/blog]

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

The Lights That Never Go Out – A Map of Scotland’s Lighthouses

Here’s a map of all the Scottish lighthouses that I found at Ardnamurchan Point. There’s a lot of them! Almost 100 and pretty much all built by the Stevenson family within 100 years from the first (the Bell Rock) which was finished in 1810. I hope to get to as many as possible over the next few months as part of my project, The Lights That Never Go Out, An Artistic Odyssey From Muckle Flugga To The Mull of Galloway.

So after a day spent washing clothes and repacking the campervan after the Easter trip to the west coast, I’m off again to spend the next few days and nights sketching and photographing the lighthouses between Montrose and Fraserburgh. Tonight I’m hoping for a clear and starry sky (ie. no fog horn!) spent at the foot of Rattray Head.

Scottish Lighthouses
Scottish Lighthouses