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!

Fidra Fine Art: Architectural Landscape

This month I’m showing some of my work alongside 5 of Scotland’s finest and best-loved landscape and architecture specialists in a show at the excellent Fidra Fine Art gallery in Gullane.

Along with the 6 paintings below (all of which have been recently completed and were done especially for this show), I will have a few of my etchings included in what looks to be a really interesting exhibition. The show opens at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane this Saturday 25th Feb.

Dean Village (Sunset) 65x50cm (Mixed media on Saunders Waterford 425gsm paper)

The other 5 artists taking part are George Birrell, Ann Cowan, Amy Dennis, Ann Oram and Allan J. Robertson. Though we’re all inspired by architecture, each of us has our own very distinct style and employ different creative techniques to create our work.

The Bell Rock, Dusk 61x61cm (Acrylic on panel)

So if you happen to be in East Lothian between 26th Jan and 24 Feb then go along for a look (closed Mondays). I’ll be at the preview night this Friday (6-8pm), as will some of the other artists showing, so I’ll maybe see you at that.

 

The Bell Rock (Snow) 61x61cm (Acrylic on panel)

St Monans (Sunset) 50x20cm (Acrylic on panel)

Here’s a link for more details on the show at Fidra Fine Art

The Old Town (Morning Light) 65x50cm (Mixed media on Saunders Waterford 425gsm paper)

St Monans (Between The Woods and The Sea) 50x20cm (Acrylic on panel)

Just off the easel …

Dubh Artach Lighthouse

Dubh Artach Lighthouse
57x57cm
Acrylic on plywood

This newly finished painting is off to Frames Gallery in Perth soon for their winter show, which opens on 16th Nov.

Dubh Artach Lighthouse sits on an isolated basalt rock which protrudes just 35 meters above sea level at the head of a deep, 80 mile long submarine valley. The strong Atlantic currents rush in along the valley towards the Rhinns of Mull a few miles east before rising up and around the rock, causing a maelstrom of turbulence.

The lighthouse was begun in 1867 following the previous winter’s storms, which sunk 27 vessels in the area. It was built by David and Thomas Stevenson (Robert Louis’ father) to warn ships approaching Oban through the Firth of Lorne and stands 107 feet high above the rock base and is 37 feet in diameter. An incredible feet of engineering considering its extremely remote location 16 miles from land and the rock’s tiny size! It could only be worked on at low tide in calm weather over the 5 years it took to build. Many of the workers lived on the rock in a small hut built on stilts during that time. It was automated in 1971, but it must have been a dreaded posting for many Scottish lighthouse keepers during its 101 years of being occupied.

So here it is, flashing its first beam of the night on a relatively calm summer evening.

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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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.

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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