Saturday, 16 November 2013

In Reflective Mood

During the past week I was working both in Lochcarron and back in the studio.
I started thinking about images of Applecross, particularly the long views out to sea. First I did a charcoal drawing based on that quick charcoal sketch I did on Applecross.
 I then did another version using watercolour paper. I used graphite and ink.
I then added white conte and darker ink marks. However I wanted more light in the distance, so I added white acrylic. I really wanted to focus on getting good sky effects.
When I looked at this, I thought the Skye hills were not the right shape. And I wanted to capture the small luminous clouds near the horizon and the little hint of blue sky above. So I did a bit more in acrylic and conte and it ended up like this. It's close to the look I was trying to achieve. But is it interesting enough?
I also tried a more colourful view, based on a view over Lochcarron. I had done some earlier work and it was looking like this. I wasn't happy about it - I liked the colour (I do really love the orange and russet colours at this time of year) but it was a wee bit too bright and literal for my satisfaction.
 I tried to darken it down and make it more moody, using conte, brown and black inks, and acrylic colours, but in the end I wasn't particularly happy.  The issue, of course, may be that the composition is not good enough. Or that I've not been clear about what I was trying to achieve. So I've set it aside.
Back in the studio, I had a go at painting the view over the island of Rona that I had sketched in pastels. I have tried painting the isle of Rona a few times, but never been happy.  I thought that focusing on the sky might help to produce a good painting. After working at it for a while, it ended up like this.

However, as so often happens at this time of year, I'm feeling a bit stuck in a groove - not sure that I'm really achieving what I'm setting out to do. Maybe I'm not being ambitious enough: maybe I'm not clear about what I am trying to achieve. Whilst I'm attracted by wildness and like to focus on the wild Wester Ross landscapes, maybe I haven't yet found an appropriate 'language' for capturing the emptyness and wildness. So I'm setting these aside for a while and I'm going to focus on some quirkier scenes. I've started with this.
This is based on a little harbour I saw in North Harris. To me it looked like boats placed within a boat. I did a little CD picture for the Inchmore gallery of this, and wanted to try a larger picture. Again I used graphite, conte, gouache and acrylic. I'm satisfied with the boldness and graphic qualities - a slightly different approach, I suppose.

And I've also brought this unfinished picture out of retirement.  I had got a bit stuck with it in the summer. It has my Aberdour tree in the composition. Wasn't sure how to finish it.
So after a critical self-review, I've got rid of the figure and made the cottage a bit smaller to get better perspective. (NB Is it necessary to get the perspective right? A modernist approach might play with perspective, I suppose.)  Anyway I feel as if it's coming along - just not sure where it will end up.  I'll get back to it next week....

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