New Year / Old Superstitions

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 …

Happy New Year from me! (1st Jan 2021 with Whitewisp hill in the Ochils behind.)

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.

Castle Campbell (or ‘Castle Gloom’ looking positively radiant!) near Dollar

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).
  • Take a decent photo or 2 (as above).
  • Read a good book – Sky Atlas by Edward Brooke-Hitching (it’s a thing of beauty!).
  • Feed the birds – always!
  • 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.

As good inside as it is on the cover!

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!

My lucky lucre!

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!

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.

New Work, New Gallery and More News …

The year has only just begun but 2019 has proved to be pretty busy for me already. The recent Architectural Landscape show at Fidra Fine Art saw some of my work heading off to new homes and then I spent the remainder of February visiting lots of different galleries and delivering new paintings and etchings to some of them too. Details below …

Three Studies of The Bass Rock, oil and gold leaf (126x52cm framed)

But first, take a look at what’s currently on my easel. It has taken over a year on and off to get it finished with lots of thinly painted glazes, drying time in between and fine tuning. Then more glazes … etc etc! But all it needs now is my signature. Gold leaf has been used extremely sparingly, but there’s just enough to provide the subtlest suggestion of a beam of light coming from each of the lighthouses when viewed at a certain angle. If you are interested in owning this oil painting then please feel free to get in touch via the contact page or email me at:
cliveramage@gmail.com

Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail left)

Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail middle)

Three Studies of the Bass Rock (detail right)

February turned out to be a great month of sales. I was particularly happy to hear from Marchmont Gallery that 3 of my differently coloured moon etchings had been bought by one client to be hung alongside each other. That made my day as they were bought only a couple of days after being dropped off and it was the first time I’ve had all 3 moon variations for sale at the same time. (If you happen to be the new owner and read this then I’d love a photo of them on your wall if possible – and thank you for buying them too, of course!).

Towards Arthur’s Seat (34x25cm)

I also recently begun to sell limited-edition, signed Giclee prints with Aquila Gallery in Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh. They have the above and following 2 pictures for sale at the moment, but more will follow soon. Marchmont Gallery also have these pictures and I’ll be dropping off more moon etchings there as soon as they are all hot off the press and dry (a week or 2 from now).

The Old Town, Edinburgh (65x50cm)

Dean Village, Edinburgh  (65x50cm)

Lastly, Morningside Gallery, also in Edinburgh, have a selection of my latest acrylic paintings for sale, including a recent one of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, along with some East Neuk of Fife and Edinburgh pictures. Click the link to see what’s available there.

That’s all my news for now.

I’m about to start on a new series of works and will keep you updated here as things take shape. I’ll also be contacting a number of galleries who’s collections and artists I’ve admired for a while, and hopefully I’ll have work available in some of them soon too. Watch this space!

Society of Scottish Artists Annual Open Exhibition 2019

I’m very happy to have had the above etching hung at this year’s Society of Scottish Artists Annual Open Exhibition, which is being held at the RSA building on The Mound, Edinburgh. The show will run from 23rd Dec-17 Jan 2019.

I’ve also had my work shown in 2 other prestigious annual exhibitions held at the RSA this year, the RSA and RSW. So it’s been a great year on that front, but I’m hoping 2019 will be my best yet.

The new year will kick off with a show at Fidra Fine Art, Gullane, on the 25th of January, where 6 new paintings will be shown alongside works by 5 other artists who specialise in architectural landscapes, including my friend Ann Oram and some other artists I’ve yet to meet (George Birrell, Ann Cowan, Amy Dennis and Allan J Robertson). I’ve been working flat out on these pictures for the past few weeks and will post some of them here in due coarse.

In the meantime, thank you to all those of you who have supported me and my work this year and every other so far with your purchases and with your encouragement! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

RSA Summer Exhibition 2018 News

Dean Village, Edinburgh (Dusk) – 80x63cm framed – Mixed media over etching

I’m very pleased to have another Dean Village hand-painted etching accepted for the RSA Summer Show this year. Last year the colours were dominated by pinks and inspired by the setting sun. This time the sun has dipped below the horizon, so it’s blues and greens that predominate. It was especially good to get it in as it had to be reframed to meet the 80cm max size rule. The image itself is 65x50cm.

This painting has also been selected for inclusion in what promises to be a lovely and exciting new art book showcasing Edinburgh art and artists; it’s due to be published next year, but I won’t say too much about that for now. More details to follow …

I made the copper etched plate for this scene about 2 years ago and have now done 6 different versions. I really enjoy painting these and like to think I’m following in a tradition set up by the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, who would often return to paint familiar motifs and much loved scenes. Cezanne painted the view of Mont Sainte Victoria in Provence, France more than 10 times and Van Gogh did several versions of his sunflowers, blossoming trees and various other motifs over the course of his life. While it might look like repetition on the surface, it’s actually a great way to experiment with colour and technique and that helps any artist to keep improving.

I have to admit though that I do love painting this particular scene, so will probably continue to create more paintings from it at least until I’ve used up all the ideas I have to make each an individual artwork in it’s own right. I’m thinking of doing a couple based on snowy weather next.

Working up my etchings into stand alone paintings is something I initially did in order not to waste what might have been an early proof copy, or perhaps one of the prints that didn’t make it into a final edition. Now I enjoy making line etchings specifically for hand colouring in a variety of media, as it allows me to experiment so much. Sometimes I’ll then go on to produce larger paintings in oils or acrylics that are based on work I consider to have been successful in this hybrid etching/painting format.

The RSA Summer Exhibition is open to the public from 3 June 2018 – 25 July 2018 and should be a highlight of any trip to Edinburgh during this summer!

Here’s last year’s entry for a comparison of the two versions …

Dean Village, Edinburgh (Sunset)

 

Showing at ArTay 2018, Perth Festival of The Arts 17-20 May and now at The Green Gallery, Dollar

 

St Monans Harbour (Sunset) mixed media over etching (framed size 55x36cm)

ArTay 2018

Next week sees the return of ArTay, an exhibition featuring over 60 artists and more than 300 works of art curated and hosted by Frames Gallery, Perth. The event is part of The Perth Festival of The Arts and runs from 17th- 20th May in a marquee beside the Perth Concert Hall.

As well as the painting above, I will be showing the 3 pictures included below, all of which are for sale.

Bass Rock Light, oil on canvas (framed size 92x92cm)

St Monans, mixed media over etching (framed size 36x30cm)

The Old Pier, Aberdour, etching & aquatint (framed size 45x37cm)

Green Gallery, Dollar

I also currently have work for sale at Green Gallery in the lovely Clackmannashire village of Dollar, including the paintings shown below. It’s a lovely place and Dollar and Castle Campbell on the hill above it are well worth a visit on a sunny day.

The Old Town, Morning Sunshine, mixed media over etching (framed size 90x74cm)

South Queensferry, mixed media over etching (framed size 49x39cm)

Pictures From My Solo Show

I wanted to share some photos from my recent solo show in Edinburgh for those who weren’t able to see it in person. There were 45 pieces hanging in total and it was the biggest collection on my work to be shown in one place to date. 

Three Studies of The Bass Rock

A wall of East Neuk paintings

It was hugely beneficial for me in a creative sense to hang the show myself (well, with a lot of help from my friend Celie) as it gave me the opportunity to put the pieces together into groups that worked as mini collections on each wall.  Every picture being part of a wider context. It took 2 solid days to hang the exhibition and I was glad to see that my combined output over the past 2 years or so also worked as a whole. This is something I have often wondered about (and I’m sure that’s the case for many other artists who work across a variety of media in relative isolation as I do). But the visitor feedback was also very positive in this sense, which helped to make the whole experience an absolute pleasure for me.

Three versions of the full Moon

Of course, selling several pieces and meeting lots of lovely people and hearing their thoughts was also wonderful. As a result, I’m really looking forward to putting together my next solo show in the coming year.

A wall of landscape oil paintings

In the meantime, I have lots more work out there in 6 different galleries this Christmas. A full list and links to those current exhibitions can be found here

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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!!)

 

Exhibitions and Other News

Museum on The Mound, 65x25cm, mixed media over line etching

Here’s a quick update on a few things that have happened recently and will be happening over the next few weeks.

Grand Art

Grand Art Exhibition opens tomorrow at Strathearn Gallery, Crieff

I have a few pieces in this show at the lovely Strathearn Gallery including these 2 above and below. It’s on until 21st May, so do drop in tomorrow for the opening or before the show closes in a month.

Tobermory, 65x25cm, mixed media over line etching

Quay Gallery

I also have new work on show at The Quay Gallery, Aberdour, including this large oil of The Bass Rock (a favourite subject!).

The Bass Rock (Sunset) 80x80cm, oil on canvas
The Bass Rock (Sunset) 80x80cm, oil on canvas

Studio Move

The other news is that I have left Fire Station Creative and will no longer be taking part in exhibitions or open studios at there. I will, however, be opening my new studio doors (in Edinburgh) to the public at some point in the future, so keep an eye out for news on that front.

And Finally …

Many thanks to those who visited the recent show at Gallery at Fifty Five in Stonehaven. The feedback was fantastic and I look forward to exhibiting there again in 2018.

Until then, I’ll be working on new pieces including more versions of the 2 hand-painted etchings above and those I’ve done of Edinburgh and the East Neuk, along with more oils based on my recent travels to Yorkshire, Cornwall and Northumberland. There will no doubt be a few more lighthouse paintings and new etchings in the pipeline too.

There’s more to report as far as exhibitions coming up are concerned and an exciting piece of news (for me at east!) about my work featuring in a new glossy magazine … but I’ll leave that for next time.

You can always find more updates and pictures of my latest works in progress etc by following me on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cliveramageartist/?hl=en

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/clive.ramageart.9?ref=bookmarks

 

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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.

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