'Water of Leith. 10'. Oil on 7x5" wood. Rose Strang, May 2020. Unframed £250

Summer Exhibition, Limetree Gallery

Above, Water of Leith. 10. Oil on 7×5″ wood. Rose Strang, May 2020. Unframed £250.

The ‘ Water of Leith’ series of paintings below will be on sale from the Limetree Gallery from around mid-June. If you are interested in any of the paintings, or would like to reserve or buy one, please contact the gallery on their website here – Limetree Gallery, Bristol

Below the paintings – more about the inspiration behind this series …

This series takes inspiration from Edinburgh’s Water of Leith, the river that runs from the Pentland Hills twenty five miles out of the city, to the shore at Leith Harbour.

The paintings are mainly from the stretch of river that runs from Stockbridge in Edinburgh up to Roseburn – possibly one of the most scenic areas of Edinburgh, which is already a very scenic city!

I took photos and made sketches last month for the oil paintings, which were completed in my studio. The time of May is always beautiful, but one of the upsides of lockdown has been the quiet and the cleaner air – these paintings hopefully reflect some of that peace; the gentleness of rain drops on a peaty river, dark as a glass of Guiness! I particularly love the vivid greens of May against these dark backdrops.

I’ve shown a variety of views – some detailed and others more abstract. I enjoyed paring these colours and compositions down to their more abstract basics in some paintings (7, 8 and 11) but equally enjoyed painting the complex scene in number 9, which shows the glassy stretch of water just before it tips into a waterfall at the most scenic part of the Water of Leith at Dean Village. Number 6 is just below the statue of Hygeia (I didn’t paint her but might do in the next few weeks – interesting to think that in ancient times we’d all have been praying to her during this pandemic!) I remember playing in these shallows as a kid and thankfully it’s not changed at all since then.

This stretch of river is in the most elegant (or posh if you like) part of the river, you can see across the river to private gardens, which, along with green light of the deep, tree-filled valley adds to its feel of mystery.

It’s taken a lockdown to make me focus on places closer to home, and though I’ve missed trips to the beautiful west coast this year, it’s been more rewarding than I imagined to paint my home town in spring.

As mentioned these paintings are all available through the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, who will be very happy to answer any queries you have about the paintinngs, you can contact them here – Limetree Gallery Contact

'Water of Leith. 9'. Oil on 7x5" wood. Rose Strang, May 2020.

Water of Leith Series (in progress) 2

Above Water of Leith. 9′. Oil on 7×5″ wood. Rose Strang, May 2020. Today’s painting from the Water of Leith series, which will be on exhibition at Limetree Gallery, Bristol. If you’re interested in any of this series, please contact the Limetree Gallery on their website – Limetree, Bristol. (As the paintings are in oil they’ll take till mid June to dry).

This is a strange view, odd in real life yet compelling. I haven’t captured it exactly to my liking but it has a bit of the mystery I was trying capture. It’s a view across the river to gardens, the river is just about to tip over into a waterfall on the right and has the glassy smoothness rivers have at that point.

Below I’ve shown a bit of process – the clarity of the first sketch is nice, but the colours were wrong. I’ll most likely have a new attempt at it tomorrow, but I’m happy with this one as a finished painting. There was too much going on in the top half so as you can see I just wiped it out! It’s a bit more restful I think.

 

'Water of Leith. 7'. Oil on 7x5" wood. Rose Strang, May 2020.

Water of Leith Series (in progress)

Above – today’s two paintings for the Water of Leith series, which is in progress. These are available (though as these are oils they make take a week or so to dry) through the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. Please contact the gallery if you are interested in any of the paintings, on their website – Limetree Gallery

I’m still very much enjoying the process of working in oils for this series. Well, enjoying isn’t exactly the word! I’m muddling through my experience of working in a new way – I find it’s conducive to more simple abstracted painting. Not because that makes it more easy but because the paint quality asks for more space and simplicity. Also, if I wanted to paint a very detailed oil painting it would take months due to drying times, not my favourite way of painting – which is akin to binge-watching a series rather than waiting for a once-a-week installment! A mood and volition can be sustained more easily without long breaks.

I’ve always admired artists who can say more with less, but the process (or at least my process) is always to start with observing everything in some detail; like a camera pan that then takes ever closer close-ups. I can’t reduce down patterns until I understand them. Maybe in a few years that process will become easier though.

This is a calm series, reflecting my mood during lockdown, which on a personal level I’ve enjoyed in many ways. I’ve been painting more with less distractions, which is welcome.

The two paintings above were just finished today, anyone interested in them can reserve or buy them through the Limetree Gallery, but they won’t be completely dry till about the 7th June.

Here’s some images showing the series so far …

 

'Water of Leith. 6'. Oil on 7x5" wood. Rose Strang, May 2020

Painting in oils

I’ve been hugely enjoying this new series in oils, featuring studies of the Water of Leith, Edinburgh’s river which flows from the Pentland Hills down to the shore at Leith. This series is still in progress and there will be around ten paintings, some diptyques.

The water of Leith always has a rich, peaty colour, which looks so beautiful in contrast with the colours of May. I wanted to capture the dewy light and light rain-showers. During lockdown I’ve had to focus on local landscape in Edinburgh. but the light has had a crystal clarity (less pollution maybe) that’s been inspiring.

I usually paint in acrylics as it’s quicker (drying time) but with more time on my hands these past few months I’ve been able to experiment with oils and I love it! I think the received wisdom is that oils are more difficult, but I find them easier in many ways, especially on this small scale.

The paint has a flow and intensity of pigment that gives immediately more luminous, deep or subtle effects and I realise that a lot of my time painting acrylics is in making the paint surface look better – with more depth or texture etc. In future, if I want texture or impasto I’ll probably start with acrylics, wait for it to dry then paint surface colours in oil. (All very tedious information for the non-painter maybe!)

It’s good practice for my upcoming seascape commission in which I want both texture and subtle watery effects. I’ll post more on that soon. In the meantime I’ll be posting updates on this series.

The ‘Water of Leith’ series will be available from the Limetree Gallery when the series is finished, which should be by mid-June – I’ll clarify the date when I know. So if you like the look of these paintings and would like to reserve one,

you can contact the Limetree Gallery through their website Here

 

 

'Traigh Bhan. Early Evening. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

Traigh Ban Series

'Traigh Bhan. Waves. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

‘Traigh Bhan. Waves. Iona’. Mixed media on 12×12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

'Traigh Bhan, Turquoise. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

‘Traigh Bhan. Turquoise Sea. Iona’. Mixed media on 12×12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

Above, the completed series of ‘Traigh Ban, Iona’. Traigh Ban is Scottish Gaelic for ‘white strand’ and is pronounced ‘try ban’. It’s the stretch of beach at the north-east end of the Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. (Set as featured image at the top is Traigh Ban, Early Evening. Iona.)

I’ve painted Iona many times in the past few years, most recently during a winter artist’s residency in 2018. It’s an island famed for its religious history and its particular beauty. That’s a somewhat anodyne sounding statement, so to be more expressive – when I’m there I often feel that the colours are too luminous to be real – everything looks like a ridiculously beautiful  painting – it feels in a way superfluous to paint it, until you realise photography doesn’t capture it.

When the Limetree Gallery asked me for paintings for their summer exhibition, Iona was my first choice. I can’t be there this year as planned due to lockdown, but you can be sure it’s the first place I’ll visit when it’s possible. I had planned an arts project there this year with my partner (an animator, watercolourist and musician) and Devo, a filmmaker from New York, so these paintings are a bit of therapy for me in the meantime! We’d hoped to respond to the island’s beauty, atmosphere and history in numerous ways, so I hope that will go ahead in the not too distant future.

They’ll be available from the Limetree Gallery soon, but if you’re interested in reserving one, you can contact them from their website on this link – Limetree Gallery.

The gallery (and its partner gallery in Long Melford Suffolk) is owned and run by Sue and Stephen – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with them over the years. We’ve had fun times and interesting conversations whenever there’s been a chance to meet in person, so as I’m currently enjoying an early evening gin and tonic I’ll raise a glass to Sue and Stephen –  long may your galleries continue to show and sell great work!

'Traigh Bhan Nam Monach. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

New paintings for the Limetree Gallery

'Sanna Sundown'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

In progress. ‘Sanna Sundown’ and at  top – Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona

Today’s paintings in progress for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona is complete. Sanna Sundown needs a bit more work. ‘Traigh Bhan Nam Monach’ means ‘white strand of the monks’.

How much would I like to be on that beach on Iona right now! I’d planned an arts project with my partner and a filmmaker from New York which would have been happening this month. (Sigh). Painting that crystal-clear turquoise sea was therapy anyway!

I went very loose and ‘painterly’ with these as I think that will work well for the Limetree Gallery. The brushwork is very spontaneous with just a few areas of detailed focus – it makes the eye work more and Limetree art buyers seem to enjoy this painterly approach that lets the viewer see more of the artist’s hand in the brushwork.

Needless to say, I enjoyed painting them and I’m happy with Iona, once I had that little sun-lit ripple at the bottom I was pretty much finished. I like the freshness of these and look forward to completing Sanna and another painting, tomorrow.

'North Berwick, Summer'. Mixed media on 18x18" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (NFS, Private Commission).

Finished Commission – North Berwick

Above: North Berwick, Summer. Mixed media on 18×18″ wood. Rose Strang 2020 (NFS, private commission).

I finally completed this private commission today and it will be winging its way to a new home soon!

The painting shows part of the headland past the town of North Berwick on the east coast of Scotland on a summer’s day in August.

This is one of my (and my family’s) favourite places to be. Though it’s just about thirty miles from Edinburgh, it always feels quite ‘away from it all’, the rocks are beautiful and as a kid it was heaven to play here, as an adult too!

The person who commissioned me works in a hospital, so I hope this painting is uplifting during a stressful time for folks in the NHS. Having said that, I hear that the non-Covid wards are not busy since everyone’s too scared to go into hospital for fear of either catching Covid or placing more strain on the NHS.

Below – a few photos showing some of the development of the painting. The challenge was capturing that lovely curve where sea meets land, also the dry August grass. The sea was not so much of a challenge once I’d toned down the rather too bright turquoise. You’d see bright turquoise on the west coast of Scotland but not the east coast!

The final touch was a lot of gesso splashed – it gives a sense of atmosphere and messing up a postcard-like view makes it more real – the way the eye sees in real life with peripheral vision and sun in our eyes, changing weather and so on.

It was both a challenge and a delight to paint, a big thank you to the person who commissioned this for giving me a really nice project during lockdown!