Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Heavy Metal

The 'Scottish Odyssey' continues with trips to the river, the woods, an Arts an Crafts hotel for lunch, a local art exhibition and all manner of walks and hikes in the mountains. Great stuff, and the weather has been somewhat fabulous, which is quite unusual for this part of the world, as normally there is constant drizzle and mist.
Yesterday included a trip to the local smithy. This place has been going strong for years and every time we visit the glen, we keep meaning to go there, but of course, never do. Well, this year we made sure of a visit, and I am so glad we did because the work by artist Heather Cumming, who also goes by the fantastic name of 'The Iron Fairy' is truly extraordinary. Heather creates all manner of sculptural pieces out of scrap metal, using the highly skilful, and traditional methods of the blacksmith. In the gallery and yard of the Keltneyburn Gallery and smithy workshop Heather shares with her artist mother Morag, enormous, full sized horses sit comfortably alongside the smallest, most whimsical mice that you have ever seen. A couple of purchases of an adorable owl and of course, one of those mice had to be made. All wrapped and ready for the journey home, you will be introduced to these fellows later.

Owl in flight

Even the garden gate makes a unique statement

One of Heather's horses, a work in progress.
Heather worked for a time on the Goodwood Estate,
with a top dressage trainer, indulging her passion for horses.

Swallows in flight.
With so many bird species here, it's no wonder
Heather's work includes them. 

Not quite forgetting the sketchbook, today looks like a rainy, indoor activities sort of a day, so hopefully I can get the paints out again. Of course, I was hoping to do some painting outside, but with so many other fabulous distractions here, it's easy to get side-tracked.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Hatches, Matches and Old School Dispatches

Life here in the Scottish Highlands continues at a sedate and leisurely pace, and I must admit to being quite grateful to being able to escape the media frenzy that has currently gripped the airwaves regarding a certain arrival. Thank goodness, as it does all seem to be just a little much, and I can only imagine that we are now going to be treated to every life event of this particular new-born.
Anyway, it would also now seem that the heat wave has abated a little with thunderstorms and torrential rain finally breaking the soaring temperatures. Just  as well, as I am sure my poor thirsty garden could do with a good soaking by now. Rain has yet to arrive here, and although the mornings start with low lying mist on the mountains, the afternoons are gloriously sunny and warm.

Just to demonstrate how slow time moves
up here. This post box still sports V R
for Queen Victoria.
Of course a dispatch had to sent from here. 

Something of a local landmark, The Birks cinema in Aberfeldy.
Closed for some years, this classic 1930s Art Deco building
has been fully restored and now houses a state-of-the-art
cinema, café, restaurant and bar.
Going really old school, you can even take your
glass of wine into the auditorium to enjoy the
latest live broadcast from the Bolshoi Ballet or
a summer blockbuster. 

A typical day in the Highlands

The locals are always pleased to see us.
The Ewes all have little ones in tow.

Feeling a little lazy, enjoying the sunshine, I have only just started some sketches of honeysuckle, foxgloves and other floral finds that I have come across.The first few days here are always a bit mad, as there is a lot of sorting out and working out how the oven works and so on. Anyway, now that I am in working mode, things should get going.

Getting started

Something on paper, at last.

Growing everywhere, Foxgloves
add splashes of colour to a woodland walk.
Further news, I am delighted that 'A Hogarth Curve' has been selected for the UK Handmade Summer Wedding Showcase. Have a browse through the gorgeously put together 'Look Book' which is available to view for the next six weeks. And to add to this delightful news, there is to be an extension of the Botanical Expo at Claregalway Castle, with the exhibition now being on during Ireland's National Heritage Week, 19th - 25th August.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Time for a Little Travel

Mid July heralds the annual family exodus to Scotland. The cars get stuffed to bursting point, early alarm calls all round, and off we go, hitting the road. A passage from The Wind in the Willows comes to mind, " ...the open road, the dusty highway, here today and up and off to somewhere else tomorrow. Change, travel..." Too right there Mr. Toad.
The Highlands are always really lovely at this time of year with heather forming a velvety, purple carpet that can be seen staining the landscape with a bluish haze for miles around. Noble deer and delightfully cheeky red squirrels can be spied if you're lucky, quiet and patient, and there is always the presence of the cries of buzzards and osprey in the skies above. I have heard many call this part of Scotland a 'Big Sky' country, and they are not wrong.  

Fast moving rivers and birch trees are synonymous with this part
of the country.

Swirling water through the trees, delightful.

Off the beaten track and a warm welcome.
The owner of our rented property always
makes us feel at home.
It's good to be back

Of course, the sketchbooks are here with me, so I will be keeping a beady one open for ripe subjects. Rosie Sanders in her Blog posted a delightful sketchbook style page of wildflowers from a recent visit to Portheras Cove in Cornwall. So much light and movement have been captured in her subjects, and by using a mix of watercolour and graphite, Rosie really demonstrates how sketches can be beautiful as well as informative.
A scented arrival

Something odd looking 

A new find

blooming marvellous
So, this week should be action packed with hiking, picnics, painting, sketching and all manner of 'outdoorsy' type adventures. You can probably tell that the sun lounger is something of a unknown for me. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A Little Midsummer Mozart

Ooh, I love summer. Warm days and birdsong, picnics and ice cream, reading on the beach and swims in the sea, (err perhaps not, this is Britain). Anyway now it's here, summer is proving to be quite decent, opposite to last year when we had flooding. Of course, gorgeous weather does make it awfully hard to stay put in the studio, as there is always an excuse to get out there and make the most of it while it lasts.

Strong, bright sunshine creates the most amazing contrast.
The small blooms of the bramble.

Well, work is not going to get itself done, so better get to it. Bramble leaves are quite lovely with their network of fine veins and the contrast of delicate, lemony tones and rich greens against the intense crimson touches on the serrated edges. There is quite a complicated pattern to the serrations and it is easy to get a bit carried away and lose the much hard worked for definition, (I've done this before and had to start all over again). Alizarin Crimson and my favourite Perylene Maroon mixed with a little Ultramarine gives a lovely colour for this tricky little job, which is usually one of the last things I do. A small brush, patience and a little Mozart set me up nicely. 

These smaller leaves have a bright, fresh green
and reddish tones on the serrations

The fine network of veins, will be hard work to get right

The serrations on my first bramble painting.
The same rusty colours are used around the nibble holes

Lemony greens against deeper, bluer tones.
My favourite Indanthrene Blue, Lemon Yellow
and Perylene Maroon mix.
Aureolin also works, as a richer alternative to the Lemon.
And a touch of Cerulean to the mixes makes the bluer shades. 

Looking at the composition I have, I would really like to add a sprig of ripe, juicy blackberries to compliment the blooms of early summer, offering some suggestion of the life-cycle of the plant itself. Not sure where yet, but I still have plenty of time to ponder that one and more than enough to be getting on with in the meantime.  

coming along nicely
P.S. If your out and about in Blighty this summer, don't forget to check out some of the great exhibitions that are on just now. Some of these fab art experiences are listed in my 'What's Going On?' list. Dive in.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

In the Slow Lane

Is it me, or does July feel like it is going to be a slow moving month? You know the ones, they just feel like they are going to go on for ever and the next one will never get here. Now I know it's only the first week and maybe its the fact that summer has hit with a vengeance, but it just feels slow and sluggish.
That being said, the bramble painting is coming along. the flowers of the bramble are really pale so a very light wash of a mix of Permanent Rose and French Ultramarine has been followed by a darker shadow mix of the same colours but with a bit of lemon added. The leaves are a different story as there are so many of them, but a good rich mix of Indanthrene Blue, Lemon Yellow and just a touch of light red should come in handy, along with a cooler mix using Cerulean and Lemon, again with a little red.

The mixes

Starting the painting
Just now I am also turning my thoughts to my submission for the SBA exhibition next year. The SBA has seen a number of changes recently with the launch of a new Facebook Page, a new president in Sandra Wall Armitage and new ideas for the future beginning to take shape. It's great to see the society embracing the social network so many of us already utilise and I am looking forward to the great things to come.
Anyway, back to the submission. Six paintings are needed and I know I have three good ones from my 'Three Piece Suite' which I would like to use, so three more to find or paint. The recent Calla study was fun to do but I am not certain that it sits well with the others, although the colours do compliment one another quite well. Sammy and Lucy is a whole different ball game and although it was displayed along with other student work this year, it might not make the cut for London next year. Of course, whatever I submit must pass the selection board and all six must be accepted for me to gain Associate Membership. It might be the case that I use the time I have wisely, (the date for submissions will be in March next year rather than February as in previous years) to come up with something new.   


Monday, 8 July 2013

Another Thorny Issue

There is always so much to do, and so little time to do it. This seems to be true of late as I have had so many ideas that I want to get going with, but deciding on which to do first means I actually end up doing very little. Frustrating. I am my own worst enemy, giving myself a hard time about not doing enough painting, not moving quickly enough on opportunities and not having the courage of my convictions or faith in my work. Being an artist can be difficult and it would be the easy road to give up the dream and go back to the day job. But, as my parents will tell you, I have never taken the easy road.

Probably looking at things far too deeply there, but that's what you do when you have far too much time on your hands. Time to get the sketchbook out and just draw, draw, draw. Get those pictures out there and just get on with it. This clematis looks awfully tempting to have a go at, but there is a little something to get out of the way first.
Like those pesky brambles. Yes, I have been 'got' many a time this week and am covered in little prickle marks. They really hurt you know. Still, I find it better working from a live specimen, well lit in the studio rather than photographs. You really get a sense of the scale of veining and subtle changes of colour that often get missed through a lens. So, out in the garden we go, to do battle with those brambles. Plus, it does get rid of them.

Buds still around, and leaves are looking good.

July, and the fruits are already forming,
 but there are still plenty of flowers  
Time for a lovely, non prickly lily or something. Mind you, the pollen gets everywhere. Hmmm.

This 'Sweet Haze' rose always performs well,
but it's another thorny subject

As is this one, but these roses are enormous

Ah, strawberries perhaps.
As long as I don't eat them all first.

Oh, nearly forgot, it was our wedding anniversary on Saturday. As a present my ever-resourceful Dad made this rather handsome planter for our garden. The broken bricks will make a layer in the open base, followed by compost, then the plants.

Made of old pallets, lined with plastic and preserved with a coating
of old engine oil, this raised bed/planter will be home for
all number of fruits and veg.
Thanks Dad.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Countdown to Claregalway

The last weekend of June was truly fabulous as a trip to London was in order for my brother's birthday and Mum and Dad's Anniversary. The weekend was even more special as my uncle, Michael was also able to come over, and my brother's girlfriend was also there to make the day complete. The neighbour's two cats, Daisy and Smokey, (who seem to have taken up residence with my parents) also made an appearance and flopped about in the garden. As the weather held, we had a barbecue in the garden and had much merriement until late.
Work has been productive this week, with the final touches being made to the design for the alphabet project and some sketches for a couple of new pieces. Possibly a squash this time or maybe a heuchera, or, being really adventurous here, a pineapple! Hopefully we will get a holiday in soon, but just now I am working hard to get some of those bramble leaves finished. There are enough of them and I will need to do a good few washes to get the characteristics right. This time round, I must remember to leave the nibbled hole details in place as last time, I missed some of the smaller ones and painted over them. Oops, it's easy to get carried away.

3 days to go
Really delighted to see 'A Hogarth Curve'
chosen for the invitations to the preview invitations.
And it's always exciting seeing your name in print
Lots of my lovely new friends have pieces
here too.

This weekend sees the opening of the Claregalway Botanical Art Expo and I am so excited. The two pieces I sent arrived safe and well in Galway, and will be getting their place on the wall in the next few days. Although, I won't be able to go myself, the curator of the show, Jane Stark has been such a fabulous support and has even set aside some posters for the contributors to have a memento of the event.

The last few details to 'D' Day
The final design for my ISBA alphabet submission,
featuring an appearance by Sammy and Lucy
Let the painting begin.