Imogen Russon Taylor, owner of Kingdom Scotland

The scent of Scotland

Above, Imogen Russon Taylor, owner and founder of Kingdom Scotland, Scotland’s first fragrance house.

Neidpath Castle, Scotland. Photo Rose Strang

Neidpath Castle, Scotland. Photo Rose Strang

I mentioned in my last post that I’m working on an arts project that must remain secret until next year. Also that I’ll post interviews or articles here in the meantime that will be of interest I hope!

One of my most loved interests, after art, is perfume (I write perfume reviews for L.L.M.) Recently I decided to interview Imogen Russon Taylor, owner and founder of Scotland’s very first luxury perfume house, Kingdom Scotland, in person (outside due to lockdown), since we both live in Edinburgh.

In the past few weeks I’ve worn and become familiar with the scents of Kingdom Scotland, which take inspiration from the magic of Scottish landscape, and I think they’re beautiful. I also share Imogen’s love of landscape as an artist and I think you’ll enjoy this interview with her (link below) from last month …

It’s hosted by Neil Chapman, author and owner of the excellent Black Narcissus perfume blog …

Interview

And these links are where you can buy Kingdom Scotland perfumes:

Kingdom Scotland at Les Senteurs

https://www.kingdomscotland.com/

'Beinn Odhar Bheag, Glenfinnan'. Acrylic and oil on 33x23" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

Glenfinnan

Today’s paintings – above; Beinn Odhar Bheag, Glenfinnan. Acrylic and oil on 33×23″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020 . Below, a forest stream in Glenfinnan …

'Glenfinnan, Forest and Stream'. Oil on 33 x 23" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Glenfinnan, Forest and Stream’. Oil on 33 x 23″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

 

These are for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, for their upcoming Christmas show which launches December 3rd and ends December 31st. (If you have any queries, please contact them on their website).

I think that allthough these two paintings show a different style, they do reflect the fact that the mountains look quite ominous from a distance. Up closer, on the lower slopes at least, the flora, trees and wildlife bring you closer and it can feel less intimidating. Farther up is a different matter! Beinn Odhar means a dun-coloured hill and Bheag means smaller (as opposed to Mhor which means big).

New Project

Between now and April next year I’m working on a new and very exciting project for a new client, unfortunately I can’t reveal what it is until October next year! So I won’t be uploading any of those particular paintings until October 2021. I’ll still post occassionally and might feature a few interviews here, with artists, or anyone creatively engaged with landscape. After April I’ll no doubt begin a new series and will post that here.

Below, a clickable image of Beinn Odhar Beag, Glenfinnan (the one above doesn’t enlarge) ..

'Beinn Odhar Bheag, Glenfinnan'. Acrylic and oil on 33x23" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Beinn Odhar Bheag, Glenfinnan’. Acrylic and oil on 33×23″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

The Road to the Isles …

Back in the mists of time in my twenties, one of my favourite parts of the journey to the west coast – ‘the road to the isles’ – was the stop at Glenfinnan House. After the splendour of Glen Coe (my photos and sketches, from the moving car, below) you arrive at the top of Loch Shiel …

If you were to take a boat along the loch you’d arrive at Castle Tioram in the far west of Scotland. A little road on the left takes you through the trees to Glenfinnan House Hotel. At first it looks a bit imposing, but on entering you’re met with a roaring log fire in the entrance room and offered a cup or glass of whatever you like.  I remember the first time I visited -sitting in a comfy chair that looked out over Loch Shiel and the awe-inspiring mountains beyond – feeling the silence after the noise of city and roads.

It’s well-known now as the spot where the Hogwarts express drives over the viaduct, but Harry Potter hadn’t yet been invented when I used to stop here for a drink. (To locals it’s always been known as the spot where Charles Edward Stewart gathered the Highland clans for the last ill-fated Jacobite rebellion.) I’ve always wanted to stay overnight at Glenfinnan and last weekend that little dream came true (an early birthday present from my partner Adam since lockdown would have made it impossible later this year!)

I loved it – the warmth and hospitality, the scent of woodsmoke in the air, wild venison and mash for dinner, a huge glass of red wine to take up to our room with its medieval-looking furniture and ancient paintings of Highland scenery, and in the morning the view from our room of mountains over the tree-tops.

Most of all the October colours – misty russets and lilacs, flooded lochs and streams entranced me. I was reminded of George MacDonald’s descriptions of mountain colours and rain floods in The Princess and the Goblin.

 

When I mentioned our trip there to my mum I detected a hint of envy; ‘aaah, in October, with its melancoholy beauty…’ she sighed! My mum used to visit Glenfinnan House some years ago. She’d travel up there with friends and enjoy a drink (or five!) since she was lucky enough to have friends who knew the locals well! She agrees with me that it feels like the heart of the Highlands.

My next series (which I’ll begin next week) will be inspired by the rich colours of October seen through mist and rain, not disimilar to ‘Through Kintail’ in my last series but in a lighter, more delicate palette.

I’ll be starting the Glefinnan series next week. A heartfelt thank you to Adam for the magical experience and inspiration – who knows how many months until we travel again? Our time at Glenfinnan will be cherished in memory and in paint!

'Through Kintail'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

A Subtle Touch

'Ardban. Shimmering Sea'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban. Shimmering Sea’. Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

My latest paintings series of Ardban and Kintail are now on exhibition at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. The exhibition launches from the 31st of October but you can reserve paintings now or make enquiries at the gallery on the link below which shows the full catalogue of works by myself, Anna King and Mhairi McGregor…

A Subtle Touch – Exhibition at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol

The series follows a journey through the Highland Glen of Kintail, then the peace and tranquility of Ardban in Applecross. All the works are oil on wood and sizes vary from 14 by 11 inches to 33 by 23 inches. The link above has all details of prices, sizes and contacts at the gallery.

I’m honoured to be showing alongside two artists whose work I admire, and as always it’s an absolute pleasure to show at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. My only regret is that I can’t travel down to the launch, with Covid restrictions making that a bit unpredictable. I can’t complain though, it’s been a pleasure to paint and I’m lucky to be able to keep working on creative projects!

Wishing everyone the very best of health and happiness!

Kintail to Ardban

Below – the complete series Kintail to Ardban created for a three-artist exhibition opening at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol on the 31st of October.

Applecross day 9

'Ardban. Forest Rain'. Oil on 19 x 19" wood. Rse Strang 2020

‘Ardban. Forest Rain’. Oil on 19 x 19″ wood. Rse Strang 2020

Today’s painting for the new series which will be on exhibition at the Limetree Gallery Bristol from 31st October.

This is today’s attempt to capture the magical, mossy forests that grow down to the sea along the west coast of Scotland. These remains of ancient oak and birch wood covered all the atlantic coastlines in the past. At Ardban and in other coastal areas such as Ardnamurchan, Moidart and Applecross these beautiful mossy forests of indiginous oak, birch and rowan still flourish. You can easily imagine them to be inhabited with dryads, sprites and the like!

I finish the series tomorrow if all goes to plan, not that there’s much of a plan but it would be great to finish these by Sunday then I can extract all the oil paint from my finger nails, clothes and floor!

More paintings tomorrow …

Applecross series day 8

'Ardban Morning Sunlight'. Oil on 19 x 19" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban Morning Sunlight’. Oil on 19 x 19″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings for the new series for the Limetree Gallery Bristol.

There’s a definite feel to the series noiw – driving through the rainy dramatic mountains of Kintail then reaching the west coast light of the Applecross peninsula. I’m very happy with the Kintail series, though I know some people might find those a little dark, I just find that drenched sort of autumnal mountainscape relaxing.

I have three paintings to complete, then the series wil be finished. More tomorrow …

Below – all paintings so far …

 

Applecross series day 7

;Through Kintail 2'. Oil on 33x23" wood. Rose Strang 2020

;Through Kintail 2′. Oil on 33×23″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Through Kintail 3' Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Through Kintail 3’ Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Above (and below), today’s paintings in progress for the new Applecross series, which will be on show as part of a three-artist exhibition at the Limetree Gallery Bristol from the 31st October.

These paintings are all in progress, since they’re in oils and will take a bit longer to dry, but I’m happy with the way the series is developing. I’m exploring new subjects – travelling through the mountains of Kintail before arriving on the Applecross coast.

I’ve always enjoyed sketching from the car, it’s a nice test of observation and it often makes the eye work faster to see what’s essential. The three paintings titled ‘through Kintail’ capture the changing weather of the Highlands.

Though often misty and wet, the mood when there is strangely comforting – a soft gloom with the fresh wildness of heather and ferns. Against the deep ochres and greens the bracken turns a beautiful russet colour.

I love the feeling of reaching the coast after the rainy mountain valleys – the soft light of the west coast. I’ve tried to capture the dreamy mood of mist lifting from the sea on a calm sunny morning, and that distinctive sparkle where the clouds part above the sea and mountains. In ‘Ardban. Sea Shimmer’ I had to tone down the mountains of Skye which are so picture-esque they resemble a child’s ideal drawing of a mountain range! It’s better to smudge them up with some rainy clouds.

More paintings tomorrow …

Applecross Series day 6

'Through Kintail'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Through Kintail’. Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Ardban. Sea Shimmer'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban. Sea Shimmer’. Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings in progress. More changes to Ardban Green Waves and Through Kintail. The new painitng – Ardban Sea Shimmer needs to dry a bit before I mist it up a bit more and work on the mountains.

Tomorrow I’ll start the large Through Kintail!

'Through Kintail'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Applecross Series day 5

'Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings – ‘Through Kintail’ and ‘Ardban. Green Waves’.

Ardban Green Waves is updated from last week as it needed warmer greens. ‘Kintail’ is a new subject and this photo of the painting isn’t capturing all the lovely textures as it’s not yet dry. I’m happy with it though and plan to paint this subject on a large scale.

The entire series is not just about Ardban in Applecross but the journey there through the atmospheric and dramatic mountains of Kintail then the Bealach na Ba. It’s quicker to take the bigger motorway but why do that when your journey is full of such beauty?!

The Gaelic title for Kintail is Cinn Tàile which means ‘head of the inlet’. In Highland clan times it was Mackenzie land and there’s a saying that goes something like ‘as long as there’s moorland in Kintail there will be herds’. Later on the way to Applecross you drive through the even more dramatic Bealach na Ba – pass of the cows –  these ordinary descriptions don’t do justice to the landscape!

In ‘Kintail’ I wanted to capture the mystery of the Highlands, drenched, as they so often are, in mist and rain. Not a unique subject, but it’s the little details such as an ordinary green metal roof amidst these rich russets of bracken and the silver-grey watery clouds merging with dark mountains that make this impossible for an artist to resist!

Oils are perfect for the subject, like watercolours they merge and run into each other, creating serendipitous effects, but richer and deeper in tone. Most of the painting is abstract colours, with just the green roof to give definition, scale and composition.

While painting I’ve been listening to the excellent Rachel Walker. She sings in Gaelic but mercifully un-festooned by fey or whimsy! She used to upload a song each week and I particularly like this one (it suited the sweet/sombre mood of the painting)  Bràigh Uige / The Braes of Uig – a song about grief, loss and the bittersweet unchanging beauty of the land. (You’ll be weeping by the end of it, sorry!) Lyrics translation below vid (courtesy of Rachel Walker’s website)

Tha na féidh am Bràigh Uige The deer are in Brae Uige
Bràigh Uige, Bràigh Uige In Brae Uige, in Brae Uige
Tha na féidh am Bràigh Uige The deer are in Brae Uige
‘S e mo dhiùbhail mar thachair My loss is what happened
Tha mo shealgair gun éirigh My hunter will not rise
Gun éirigh, gun éirigh Will not rise, will not rise
Tha mo shealgair gun éirigh My hunter will not rise
‘S tha na féidh air na leacainn And the deer are on the slopes
Tha mo shealgair ‘na shìneadh My hunter is lying stretched
‘Na shìneadh, ‘na shìneadh Lying prostate, lying stretched
Tha mo shealgair ‘na shìneadh My hunter is lying stretched
Anns an fhrìth gun tighinn dhachaidh In the deer-forest, and has not come home
Tha mo crodh air na lóintean My cows are on the brook-meadows
Na lóintean, na lóintean The brook-meadows, the brook-meadows
Tha mo crodh air na lóintean My cows are on the brook-meadows
‘S na laoigh òga mu’n casan And their young calves at their feet
Iad gun togail ri aonaich They have not been driven up the hillside
Ri aonaich, ri aonaich Up the hillside, up the hillside
Iad gun togail ri aonaich They have not been driven up the hillside
Fireach fraoich agus glacan Heathery mountain or the hollows
Gura fuar lag na h-àiridh Cold is the Hollow of the Sheiling
Na h-àiridh, na h-àiridh The Sheiling, the Sheiling
Gura fuar lag na h-àiridh Cold is the Hollow of the Sheiling
‘S tha mo ghràdh fo na leacaibh And my love lies under the flag-stones
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò