Saturday, 8 October 2011

Applecross Sketches

Yesterday we were in Applecross, and it was as beautiful as ever!  We had a leisurely afternoon, making the most of the blinks of sun, and I managed to do a few sketches.  Our first stop was in Fearnbeg - we always stop there because it is the "place where Donald stayed in the 1970s", and we feel a sort of affinity (especially after going back there with Donad earlier this year).  We go to check out how regeneration (gentrification?) is progressing. There's not much change in Fearnbeg - it seemed deserted - and so it was an ideal sketching spot.  After a poor sketch of a contorted apple tree, I spotted this view of the gable-end of one of the cottages.  I liked the window in the gable, the fence and the power-line up the hill.  These elements are the essence of the character of these cottages which seem to spring out of the turf (and in some cases, return to the turf).
Fearnbeg Cottage copyright Aileen Grant
This sketch was done in charcoal, quite quickly in the cool of the afternoon. I think there's enough in this sketch to take a bit further in the studio.
Another cottage south of Fearnbeg also caught my eye. I really love the juxtaposition of the pine tree and the house.  I have sketched it a few times before, but in charcoal or ink.  So this time I did a quick pencil sketch.
Applecross Tree House Sketch copyright Aileen Grant
It's in a great location this "tree house". Although it's in a bog, it has the most fantastic view of the Isle of Rhona and Raasay.  I'm wondering if this cottage is being restored - the roof looks very good and I'm sure when I did my previous sketches, there was a hole in the roof. I want to live here in this elemental place!! It has such a desolate beauty.  It's my favourite Applecross cottage!
I also did a colour study, making an attempt to try and capture the colours of Applecross quickly in pastel.  There is an official viewpoint in between these two cottages where there is the most fantastic view of Rhona, Raasay and Skye.  I cheated and sat in the car to do this sketch - while the rain drizzled and the north wind blew.
Sketch of The Sound copyright Aileen Grant
Every time we come to this spot it seems to be cloudy and bright, and these pools of intensly bright light move across the water, ever-changing.  I have shied away from sketching this view in the past, but by using pastels I had more speed and the potential to make marks a bit like the wind rippling over this expanse of sea. On reflection, I now remember that John Houston used pastels a lot to capture the mood and colour of the sea. Anyway, I found it difficult to capture the colour of the sea (as well as the movement), but I have to say this sketch is much more like what we saw than the photos we took.  I need a little bit more colour in the foreground though.
But now we are back in Musselburgh. Very sad to leave the north-west, but I have a head full of vivid images.  I'll try to keep these images alive in the studio on Monday.

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