Friday 24 February 2012

A Flavour of Applecross

Spent yesterday gathering some sketches of Applecross.  I was keen to try and do some coloured sketches - I think sketching in colour helps me to think in colour and therefore to handle colour back in the studio (was thinking about Van Gogh describing what he sees in paint colours - his prussian blue skies etc).    It was pretty windy, so on the exposed Applecross coast I decided not to get out of the car.  I went to my favorite viewpoint at the windiest point on Applecross, and did this sketch in chalk pastels.    

Applecross viewpoint sketch copyright Aileen Grant
I was concentrating on the colour shapes (that triangle of brown), the angle of the road and the storminess of the sea.  The islands (Skye, Raasay and Rona) were barely visible, floating in and out of the cloud.  Meanwhile the car was rocking in the wind.  I wondered if it might be possible to get blown over.  But luckily that didn't happen.
Another stormy sea attracted my attention, close to Callekillie.
Sketch of Stormy Sea, Rona and Cottage copyright Aileen Grant
I think I was concentrating on the sky and the sea so much, that I was not paying enough attention to the colour patterns in the foreground.  But it's a good enough study or future work (I hope).

My next stop was Fearnmore.  Usually I go further and don't stop until Fearnbeg, but I was thinking I should visit all these Applecross villages (in time) and do some sketching in each, so Fearnmore beckoned.  As this part of Applecross was in the lee of the stormy wind, I decided I could get out and sketch.  Went down to the natural harbour, and was excited by this lovely corrugated iron fishing hut.  I got out the graphite stick and some oil crayons.
Fearnbeg Beach Hut 1 copyright Aileen Grant
Fearnbeg Beach Hut 2 copyright Aileen Grant
 It's a lovely little structure - really quirky - and looking at these sketches now, I think I'd like to do a painting of the hut.  I think the elevation with the door is more interesting for a painting, but we'll see.  The hut lies within a small cove and I scrambled around the black rocks, taking a few photos of the village and views towards Torridon.  It felt very old and weathered. 

It is interesting how these old corrugated iron buildings are almost the same colour as their context - I did this sketch of an old fishing shed in the south of Applecross on Wednesday.  I'm sorry I didn't do this sketch in colour to capture the colour relationship between the corrugated iron, the stonework and the bracken, but hey ho, I used graphite stick instead....and I took some photos to capture the colour.

Applecross Fishing Shed graphite sketch copyright Aileen Grant.
As always, I've been inspired by Applecross.  I hope I have gathered enough material over the last couple of days to sustain me back in the studio in the days to come. Watch this space.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Attadale Walk (In The Rain)

I decided to defy the elements today, and in a mood of optimism I took my sketchbook.  Went over to Attadale (luckily the road is open as far as Attadale - it's closed just beyond this point).  Sadly the day just got wetter and wetter. 

Walked up into a birchwood and started a coloured sketch....then a gust of wind tipped my pastels into the grass and bracken.  Took me ages to pick them all up again..... However, I managed to do this wee study in acrylics when I got home.  (But not sure about it.)
Birchwood study copyright Aileen Grant

I gave up any thought of sketching at that point and decided to just take photos.  These were the most interesting.

Guess what they are.. And I came very close to this guy.

There's always something to see, if you can put up with the weather.  Maybe it'll be better tomorrow....

Saturday 18 February 2012

Back in Lochcarron

Back up north for a week or so.  Nice to be here, especially now that the days are a little longer.  Weather is somewhat snowy and cold, so most of today was spent doing some DIY in the cottage.  However, I did venture out for a sketch early afternoon, wandering down by the shore in Lochcarron. 
Weather conditions were great - the sleet moving in up the loch, and glimpses of sun breaking out through the clouds.  But cold for sketching.
I love the washing lines on the shore - I always think there's a good picture in there if I could just think of an interesting composition....but maybe they just make good phtos.  Anyway, they are a good subject for a sketch.

Seaweed Lines (sketch)  copyright Aileen Grant
It was so atmospheric: so lovely to be here.  I walked down by the natural harbour.  Noticed that the cottage -Reraig - was being re-roofed in RED corrugated iron sheets.  BRILLIANT!  I didn't know you could still get corrugated iron, but in red - amazing.  It means that this cottage has retained its lovely red roof - a beacon of colour!  Look at it here.....

I was going to do a sketch here, but I could see a big black cloud approaching from the west, so I thought I would head back to Hawthorndene.  But the cloud passed over, and the sun came streaming out, so I did manage another sketch - a quick one in charcoal which I finished off indoors.
Another Slumbay Sketch copyright Aileen Grant

I think for once in this sketch I've managed to capture that distinctive shape of Slumbay.  And I quite like the way the treatment of the shore has turned out.  But then, charcoal is such a joy to work with because of the range of effects you can get.

And now it's snowing, and lying. Quite a snowfall. Looking out of the window I can see the lights across the water where the guys are working to try and fix the Strome Road.  I can't believe that they are working 24/7 .... it's a race against time to fix it. Are they really working now in the dark in this blizzard?  They deserve a bankers bonus!

Monday 13 February 2012

Continuing the Gayfield Theme

Today in the studio I continued the theme of Friday's work and had a go at another version of the Gayfield Trees composition.  I thought it would be more interesting with a bit more colour so decided to do some underpainting in gouache (magenta and naples yellow), then I drew into it with charcoal and graphite stick, then added a little blue gouache.

Emerging Gayfield Trees copyright Aileen Grant
In the composition, I had accentuated the angles of the buildings, and was also thinking about the link between the verticals - the columns, the trees and the building on Leopold Place.  So I drew into it further.
Emerging Gayfield Trees copyright Aileen Grant
Actually, looking at this now, this looks kinda interesting - I particularly like the trees. But I was not happy with the colour and carried on, wanting to simplify the colour treatment, adding white and off-white acrylic and more drawing and black ink.

Emerging Gayfield Trees copyright Aileen Grant
I did a bit more to this before finishing, but it was too dark to photgraph...added another car I feel as if I'm getting somewhere with my urban series.  Almost ready to do a proper picture.  But now I'm about to go up north for a few days, so I'll be having a little break from the urban scenes, back to the landscapes.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Spaces and Forms

Have been a bit distracted of late - getting the new website done, the excitement of the RSW show, and also very busy at work.  I really just want to paint, but I suppose there's no way of avoiding doing some PR. (And at the moment, still need to work 3 days.)  The three shows which are on at the RSA are really quite an inspiration - good to see such a range of contemporary work.  Anyway, getting back into the studio for a full day on Friday felt like a real luxury.  But it was hard to get back into the painting groove. 

My starting point was a pencil sketch I did on Caltonhill last year.  I thought it looked quite interesting with the contrast between the dark of the trees and the paler buildings. So I re-sketched it as a thumbnail to see how it looked.

Gayfield Trees (Thumbnail) copyright Aileen Grant
I thought this looked a strong composition, worth having a go at.  So I got a large piece of paper out and made a start.
Gayfield Trees (Emerging) copyright Aileen Grant
I quite like all the verticals in this composition - think that's what makes it interesting.  Not sure I really saw the connection betweeen these verticals when I was working on it (evidence of my degree of distraction).  I paused at this stage, not sure what to use next.
Gayfield Trees (Emerging) copyright Aileen Grant
I added some gouache and mre charcoal and white acrylic.  This had a nice looseness about it that I didn't want to lose.  Now I wanted to add a little more colour, but I have to confess that I was not clear about my palette.  I just grabbed some blue and some coloured ink.

Gayfield Trees (Emerging) copyright Aileen Grant
I still like the composition, and I think the angles of the buildings work OK, but I don't think I've got the palette to my satisfaction.  Too much blue now.  I might try it again with some underpainting to give it more interest.  Also not sure if I like the last version more than the middle version.  To be honest, I found this composition more interesting than the Victoria Street views.  I suppose I was focusing more on the spaces than the buildings and that this made it more interesting.  Maybe there was more opportunity to introduce higgledy-piggeldy-ness.  I think in my fantasy world the buildings are a bit askew.