Monday 19 November 2018

Golden Days

It seems that we've just hit a spell of good weather up here.  Sunny crisp days.  The hills and summits are so clear.  Had a bit of a hillwalk in Strathcarron yesterday and today I had to run over to Torridon to deliver some calendars, so I took the opportunity to do a bit of sketching.

At this time of year, the grasses are wonderful shades of orange and ochre, and the deer grass has sent out its delicate long stems.  Here's the sketch I did yesterday on a walk in the Strathcarron hills above Achintee. I was trying to get the pattern of the shadows on the hillside, shadows cast by the rocky outcrops. And the lochan kept changing colour as the wind changed. I was able to take a bit of time as it was warm enough and I was quite pleased with this.
Today was similar.  The hills were clearer than ever but there was a cold wind blowing.The shore of Upper Loch Torridon looked cold, in shadow.
Then on through Glen Torridon, stopping for a sketch of Liathach. We stopped at the second car park where there is a stand of pine trees. By this time there was a small cloud sitting on top of Liathach which I was viewing from the east.
On our way back I had time for another sketch of Liathach, a view from the south this time. We walked a bit along the lochside path and I spied a good view with a host of Torridon pines in the shade in front of the hills.
And as a wee extra, Beinn Damh was catching some intense light with interesting shadows so I did a last quick sketch before I headed home.
Lots of material for a few paintings, but this lovely weather is very distracting!

Saturday 10 November 2018

Hand Made

Difficult times. I've had a thumb/wrist problem - De Quervain's tendonitis to be precise - and this has hampered my painting and printmaking. I so need my right hand! However, this week it's been a little better and I've been trying to get back into a bit of painting.
I started on Sunday with a couple of sketches. I drove up the Bealach road, not too far, just high enough to get a good view of the ridge. And then found a space where I could pull off the road safely.  I walked up the hill a bit and did these two sketches in pastel.  I particularly liked the bright yellow grasses bending in the fierce wind and looking bright in front of the hills behind.

Since then I've tried to develop these into paintings.  Making a start on the first sketch, I paused at this point
It's so interesting to look at this again. I now see things in this composition that I've lost going forward....look
The shape of the hill on the left - I've inadvertantly altered the angle and it's lost some tension. But maybe it's not too bad...

In this development, I've adjusted the height of the ridge and softened the dark patch on the right hand side - I didn't think it looked appropriate. But the shape of the hill on the left has got worse! I was also a bit unhappy with the colour - looked a bit washed out! More work needed.
Today I have done this - I think it's looking better. The darkness of the hill is much better, more drama. I've slightly amended the yellow grasses and added more foreground marks. I have actually spent a lot of time thinking about the marks to make to represent the grasses and other vegetation. And I dropped the height of the far-away ridge - I painted it out in a blue-white which I didn't really intend to be the finished colour, but actually I quite like it!  Interesting! It may remain...we'll see.

Painting the other view has been less successful. Here's the start - very loose and rather nice.
But then I did this.  Added lots more marks. Good and bad.
I had gone back to the sketch to check tonal values, and so made the ridge a bit darker, and tried to divide up the foreground to make it read well, all the time thinking about marks.  I took this approach a little further.

Does it feel like a hillside to you? I think it's getting there, but those rocks are bad! Maybe I just need to darken them down. Or maybe dispense with them!  I'm quite liking the sky, though, and the hilltops, so I think it's worth a bit more effort next week.

And maybe some more sketching tomorrow if we get a blink of sun...