Friday, 8 May 2009

Inspirational Inner Hebrides!

A few weeks back my wife and I were able to escape to Scotland for a break. We went by train (of course!) and first stop was Edinburgh for a couple of nights. We then travelled via Glasgow to Oban (a beautiful run past Loch Lomond and Loch Awe) where we sailed to the Isle of Mull. For anyone interested in wildlife, nature and landscape the Inner Hebrides ticks all the boxes: otters, seals, white-tailed eagles, golden eagles and whales satisfy the naturalists, whilst the dark basalt rocks and ever-changing skies and light quench the thirst of those in search of landscape.

The strong winds that scour the Hebridean islands make painting out in the open quite tricky, plus lugging all my gear on the train wasn't really an option, so instead I took lots of photographs and notes and just soaked up the atmosphere. On our return home I began to paint.

Loch na Keal, acrylic on canvas 12" x 16"

Looking across Loch na Keal towards Ben More. My wife and I went on a wildlife tour and we saw both white tailed and golden eagles on this loch. We returned a day later and waited in this spot for 3 hours in the hope of sighting them again but without success, but at least I was able to soak up the atmosphere and the lighting effects!

Tobermory, acrylic on canvas 12" x 16"

Tobermory is a great little place, with its brightly painted buildings and harbour. I wanted to capture the lively nature of the town and its relationship to the water and so I only used a painting knife and did my best not to 'fiddle' too much with the paint, hence this was finished in about 30 minutes!

Highland cattle, acrylic on canvas 12" x 16"

My wife has always loved the look of Highland cattle, with their majestic horns, shaggy coats and quiet nature. There are plenty on Mull, including the original Hebridean with its distinctive black coat, so finding a subject wasn't a problem. Many had calves with them just to add the 'arrrr' factor. I'm no wildlife painter - I don't normally 'do' animals and humans can be very tricky too as anyone who was with me in life-drawing classes can testify! Anyway I gave it my best shot - my attempt is to show the quiet majesty of these beasts and how they are an integral part of the imposing landscape... My wife thought perhaps is was a bit 'dark' (my wife and daughter are my best and most trusted critics) so in response and for a bit of fun I painted her this:


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