Saturday, 27 October 2007


Acrylics on canvas, 60x60cm.
On my recent visit to Arran for my working holiday I took with me four canvases each 60cm square. I am intrigued by this sqare format and think that I can do wonderful things with them - they are a good shape for placing two decent sized figures side-by-side, or a single subject filling the whole surface. The intention was to take these canvases with me out on field trips and paint direct from life, but I took cold feet, not wanting to stand about in public painting at an easle. I have done it before but maybe I'm getting too old for it, certainly more reticent about exposing myself in public to the looks and comments of passers-by. I hate being a side-show for the tourists especially when I am struggling to make a decent painting worthy of viewing.
So these four boards were kept firmly indoors at the cottage where I was staying where i had set myself up in a makeshift studio in the kitchen/dining room. This painting came from one session where I allowed myself to open up and freely express some of the thoughts in my head. Or in this case these two heads - one full of energy and life, and the other, darker, a shadow of it's friend. The concept I was exploring (again) is one of personal duality. In fact that's what I'll call it 'Duality'.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Coire Fhionn Lochann

COIRE FHIONN LOCHAN: pencil on paper, A5 sketchbook. This small lochan, cupped in a bowl below craggy mountain-tops, was the reward for an arduous climb. A dark shadow from one of the peaks cuts right across the surrounding hillside, and the water lies still in parts with a slight ripple in others, reflecting the blue sky between towering cloud formations.
This was probably one of the hardest climbs I have ever made. Rarely venturing above the tree-line I started on this climb thinking it was only a couple of miles like the sign-post said. What it didn't say was that it was also about a mile vertical! Here I am at just about the top looking back over the Kilbrannan Sound to Kintyre, and you can just faintly see, over my right shoulder, the Papps of Jura!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Dougarie Point

DOUGARIE POINT, MACHRIE BAY: I like to visit this corner of Arran every time I visit. It is quite wild and has a small beach that I like to sit at, eat my lunch perhaps, and do a little daydreaming. I can watch Grey Seals in the water and Peregrine Falcons zipping around the cliff-faces. This little sketch was done in an A5 sketchpad with Neocolours and I can vouch for the intensity of the water because it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a cloudless sky.
This sketch was also done in an A5 sketchbook and was an attempt to express in colour the waves crashing into a small gully instead of merely rendering the scene realistically.

Saturday, 20 October 2007


THE DOON FROM THE EAST: pencil on paper, A5 sketchbook. This rock stands proud on a promontary on the west coast of Arran near Blackwaterfoot. The approach passes one of the best golf courses I have ever played, certainly the most entertaining - Shiskine - a 12 hole gem with all sorts of flags and indicators to show when a green is clear to play to because most of them are blind! The scenery and views around this course are magnificent, especially on a nice day (of course!). On the other side of the Doon is rolling farmland with buzzards hovering above. You follow the fence-line towards the lower end and then climb a not-so-gentle slope to the top where the panoramic views back over Blackwaterfoot, south down the Kilbrannan Sound towards Ireland, west across to the Mull of Kintyre, and north up the Sound, are absolutely stunning. This was one of the first sketches I made on my first day in order to get myself going and make some marks in my sketchbook. I then climbed the hill to have a look at it's standing stone and visible remains of a small settlement. The day was so nice that I spent a while just sitting, contemplating, while looking out over the water (searching for whales or dolphins, without any luck!) THE DOON FROM THE WEST: pencil on paper, A5 sketchbook. This western side of the Doon is very dramatic with it's vertical cliff-face, home to a large group of crows and jackdaws which rise up in a wild bunch calling out their raucous presence for me to hear.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Standing Stones

Auchengallon Stone Circle. All over the Island of Arran there are the remains of human activity from thousands of years ago. They can mostly be found to the west around Drumadoon and Machrie Moor, but also in the very south of the island at Torrylin (see below). I find these sites fascinating and like to run my hand over the stones that ancient peoples put so much effort into raising from the beaches to, usually, high vantage points. Many of these circles are burial chambers, like Torrylin, but also they mark the sites of habitation.
Torrylin Chambered Cairn, Kilmory. This is to the south of the island and stands high on a promentory overlooking the Firth of Clyde as it stretches south towards Ailsa Craig and the the Irish Sea

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Amazing Sunsets over Kintyre

Sunset 1: Neocolour on paper, A5 sketchbook. These two colour studies were an attempt to describe the way I felt about the sunsets rather than exact representations of what was happening before my eyes. I wanted to capture an expression of the high intensity and blinding colour as the sun sank gloriously below the hills across Kilbrannan Sound.
Sunset 2: The suns glaring intensity prohibits actually looking directly at it and in looking away with semi-closed eyes the blinding yellow light takes on it's complementary cerulean blue.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Working Holiday

Makeshift studio: Lived, and worked from a single room in the cottage - a dining kitchen that stretched from front to back. Moved some of the furniture to create a working space and set up my easel. As you see I can easily get into a right mess! Cleared it all up and when I left you wouldn't know I had been there creating masterpieces!
Hope Cottage, Isle of Arran: 7 nights self-catering, on my own. It took me a while to settle to the idea of painting, but I got there and enjoyed the isolation and peace to be myself and simply draw and paint!