Monthly Archives: April 2014

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 10

Eigg Series. No. 10. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 10. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5″ wood

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Today’s painting is a view south from Galmisdale on the west coast of Eigg. This silver/white sparkling light with misty horizon is quite unique to the west coast I think. It’s maybe partly due to the combination of northern white light  combined with high humidity, whatever the reasons I always find it magical.

I’ve still not quite captured it, but then again, I can’t think of any artist who has. Even the Scottish Colourists (Peploe, Cadell Fergusson and so on) don’t seem to have explored this effect. If it’s too literal an interpretation it loses magic. I hope to capture it in a simple, more abstract way before long.

When I was on holiday on the west coast as a girl I remember thinking it looked like scattered diamonds. I tried to re-create the effect with the tiny broken pieces of glass I’d found from a  shattered car window! I was never very competitive and loathed board games, so when we’d play with the 70s board game ‘Buccaneer’ I’d gaze with fascination at the little pieces of pretend rubies and diamonds rather than learn the rules of the game, and it was the same with Monopoly, I loved to play with the little houses, dogs and bars of gold, and to this day I’m clueless as to the rules of the game.

Painting sometimes re-creates that feeling of childhood fascination with the seemingly mundane or everyday. It’s a good excuse anyway, to while away my days playing with paint.

A view of changing weather from the top of the Sgurr..

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Sphagnum Moss

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50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 9

Eigg Series No 9. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No 9. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

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Today’s painting is a moody depiction of Laig Bay looking towards the south.

In the past, the remote islands of the West coast attracted many Christian missionaries from Ireland, the most well-known being St Columba who settled on Iona in the 7th Century. On Eigg you can still see the remains of a chapel in Kildonan Bay, founded by St Donnán from Ireland.

I’ve always been fascinated by this era of ancient Christianity and first began to explore this time in history when I was 20 and visited Iona off the West Coast of Mull. While there I could see  and experience for myself what was meant by the expression ‘a thin veil between heaven and earth’. In those times it was common for practicing monks or nuns to embrace solitude or silence (a practice that continues to this day) and, although I’m not a part of any practicing religion, I know I’m not alone in finding these remote islands conducive to contemplation.

St Donnán’s life came to a violent end when he was killed alongside 52 monks on Easter Sunday, which was most likely to have been Norsemen since this was a common occurrence in those times.

Nowadays, Eigg has two churches, in the East and West of the island, as well as the peaceful yoga retreat at Glebe Barn in the middle of the island overlooking Kildonan Bay (you can read about Glebe Barn Yoga retreat Here)

I’m thinking of the news about Abdullah Deghayes today, and also of some friends of mine who’ve been involved indirectly in the Syrian conflict. My heart goes out to people who are unable to live in peace because of circumstances beyond their control, and I wish everyone a peaceful and loving Easter weekend

Looking East to the mainland from Kildonan Bay..

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The view from The Sgurr of Eigg down to Kildonan Bay and the pier at Galmisdale..

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50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 8

Eigg Series. No. 8. Ink, sand and acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 8. Ink, sand and acrylic on 5×5″ wood

P1100408Today’s painting – Laig Bay looking across to the mountains of Rum, in ink stained wood over-layered with  washes of black, blue and green ink, and a final layer of varnish, the foreground sand is a mix of varnish and Laig Bay sand.

 

In this stretch of water lies the Skerryvore-Camasunary Fault, the cause of all the volcanic eruptions around 60 million years ago. Most of Eigg consists of layers of lava flows from the volcano. The mountains of Rum are the worn down remains of the original volcano.

The Laig Bay sands are a mix of sand and quartz which create ever changing patterns…

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7 Paintings of Eigg

These are the first seven paintings of the ’50 Paintings of Eigg in 50 Days’ series. Forty three to go!

* (Numbers 1 2 and 3 have sold)

They are all on 5×5″ wood, £45 each and are available on a first come first served basis. Please feel free to email me at rose.strang@gmail.com if you have any questions. (£45 includes post and package).

You can also read more about each painting and Eigg by clicking on ‘Home’ above, and scrolling down to previous posts

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5×5 inch wood

 

 

 

 

 

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5×5 inch wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5 inch wood

Eigg Series No 3. Acrylic on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series No 3. Acrylic on 5×5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5×5 inch wood

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Eigg Series. No 6. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

 

 

 

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5×5″ wood

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No 7

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 7. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5×5″ wood

P1100378Today’s painting; a view through sandstone rocks at the Singing Sands Bay on the island’s west coast. It’s interesting how the natural frame of sandstone enhances the sense of distance and lends an exotic air to the view beyond. I was attempting a more close-up sense of weather, if that makes sense (there’s also a sprinkling of singing sand on the painting!)

A bird catching its dinner…

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Lastly my  (amateur!) video of Laig Bay and the cliffs of Cleadale behind..

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 6

Eigg Series. No 6. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 6. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

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A Schueler-inspired early evening sky. Or to be accurate, the sunset looked very Schueler to me, if not my painting!

Jon Schueler was born in 1916 in Wisconsin, and was around at the time of the later school of American abstract expressionism, (though he never felt particularly part of that movement). He moved to Mallaig (the ferry town on the mainland near Eigg) in 1957 and set up his studio there for a year. He returned many times to Mallaig – his longest stay five years.

I dropped into the Heritage Centre in Mallaig, which shows a few of his works (nearly all his works were on large scale canvas) but feel it’s a shame more isn’t made of the fact that his life’s work centred around Mallaig. I wanted to buy a Schueler post-card, but no luck, they didn’t stock any. More reason to develop galleries and art centres in this beautiful area of the world

Schueler painted the stretch of sea and sky between Mallaig and Skye called The Sound of Sleat

Here’s a small selection of his paintings. Beautiful work, and an inspiration…

“When I speak of nature, I speak of the sky, because the sky has become all of nature to me. But it is most particularly the brooding, storm-ridden sky over the Sound of Sleat in which I find the living image of past dreams, dreams which had emerged from memory and the swirl of paint. Here I can see the drama of nature charged and compressed. Lands form, seas disappear, worlds fragment, colors merge or give birth to burning shapes, mountain snows show emerald green. Or, for a long moment, life stops still when the gales pause and the sky clears after long days of careening sound and horizontal rain or snow.”

Mood Cries for Sleep

Sea Light Dreaming

Sea Light Dreaming

Light and Black Shadow

Light and Black Shadow

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Sleat, June Night XIII

The Sound of Sleat, June Night XIII

 

 

Sleet Winter Blues III

Sleet Winter Blues III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon Schuler

Jon Schuler

Jon Schueler; 1916 – 1992

 

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No 5

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5×5 inch wood

Detail

Detail

Today’s painting – the misty and dramatic aspect of cliffs behind Cleadale, a small settlement on the West Coast of Eigg near Laig Bay and the Singing Sands. Painted in acrylic with pallete knife.

Crofters have lived here for generations, and later in this series I’ll include some archival photos of Eigg’s past inhabitants and their way of life.

Today thoughLucy Conway , as we’re in Cleadale, I’d like to introduce you to one of Cleadale’s present-day inhabitants; Lucy Conway, the visionary founder of ‘Eigg Box’.

I first heard about Eigg Box two years ago while chatting with a friend about my love of the West Coast islands, my friend asked if I’d heard of Eigg Box, and after quick online search I discovered the website – http://www.eiggbox.com/ and signed up to the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/EiggBox

I was entranced by daily posts of Eigg’s beautiful landscape (which previously I’d only seen from the mainland shore of Arisaig) and intrigued with the many arts projects taking place. Then, a year later, Lucy invited artists in Edinburgh to join in on a discussion of the future of an art centre to be built on Eigg and I was of course glad of the opportunity to become involved

We all met at Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue arts complex where we pored over architect’s plans for the Eigg Box art centre, and shared ideas about what makes a space ideal for artists – communal space to share ideas, quiet space to think and create, how to make the best use of light and how to deal with waste from art materials

Not lLucy's house in Cleadaleong after this I contacted Lucy to ask about staying on Eigg, then met up again when I arrived on the island. Lucy invited us to their wonderful house at the foot of the cliffs at Cleadale (designed and built by Lucy and Eddie over three years) where we received a glass of wine and a warm welcome while Lucy brought us up to date with plans for Eigg Box.

There’s a lot happening and it’s very inspiring; for the last 18 months Eigg Box has been providing a programme of training and mentoring opportunities for local creative businesses to develop their business and creative skills in parallel with a series of community focused events and workshops.

Eigg Box has also provided opportunities for visiting artists and arts organisations such as as Bodysurf (dance), DevFort (digital) and The Bothy Project (individual artist residencies) to come to the island to work. (I’ll be featuring more about the Bothy project on Eigg later in the series and my first acquaintance beneath the twilit cliffs with Sweeney himself!)

Sweeney's bothy, Eigg

Sweeney’s bothy at Cleadale, Eigg

 

 

 

 

 

Practical on-the-ground projects such as these, along with on and off island consultation and pragmatic research, have provided a wealth of information and helped build a strong case for an Eigg Box building.

Eigg Box will be a new eco-build with workshop, studio and workspace for island creative businesses and visiting artists to share. For island artists, sharing the space with visitors brings new perspectives, skills and opportunities to collaborate, while visiting artists benefit from the knowledge and expertise the island artists have of Eigg.

Time spent as a visiting artist-in-residence can motivate, transform and inspire creative practice and bring new skills and perspective to the local community. Both offer Eigg a new way to share what it has with the rest of the world.

Powered by renewable energy, featuring the best in low carbon design and with mindful day-to-day resource management practice at its core, Eigg Box will be a focus for how environmental sustainability can be at the heart of the creative industries and business practice.

Myself and many other artists look forward to seeing the Eigg Box art centre project come to full fruition as an art centre and arts residency space. It’s exactly what’s needed for the island and for the many artists who live there or visit.

You can also contribute too, with your thoughts and ideas on what Eigg Box could mean to you. Sign up for a newsletter, or get in touch with Lucy to let her know what you think or ask questions HERE.

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No. 3

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

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Sometimes life seems to move too fast. It’s difficult to be present and I feel inadequate; too distracted and impulsive to be in the moment the way I want to be. It brings the character of Ricky Fitts to mind (or writer, Alan Ball) in the film ‘American Beauty’:

‘It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.’

Sanskrit philosophers wrote about presence thousands of years ago, but I like the immediacy of Alan Ball’s take on it – a plastic bag in the wind, which brings us into the here and now, and our anxiety producing world of rapid change and competition.

Below is a short video I took of waves from the Mallaig-Eigg ferry, accompanied by music from my friend Atzi Muramatsu, who moved from Japan to the UK some years ago. When I first heard this piece I was reminded of the rhythm of boats, waves, and the anticipation of journeys.

 

More music by Atzi here https://soundcloud.com/atzi-1

Website: http://www.atzi.co.uk/

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No 2

 

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink, sand and varnish on 5×5 inch wood. (Sold)

Detail

Detail

A slightly more playful version of waves in Laig Bay today. What I like about painting on wood is the layering and texture it allows, so there are various layers here, built up and scraped back, then some varnish and fine-grained sand from Laig Bay for texture. I think I’m also beginning to capture something of my emotional response to Laig Bay.

This was another somewhat rainy day, bad for tourists but good for painting! It all adds to atmosphere and these lovely miniature waterfalls on the rocks..

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We began to explore The Singing Sands Bay (Camus Sgiotaig in Gaelic – if there are any Gaelic speakers here, do feel free to offer any translations in comments below). Thus named for its fine quartz sands which sing when dry, but as it was rainy they were subdued (and I’m told it’s more akin to squeaking than singing!). More fascinating were the mysteriously sculpted rocks and small caves which served as shelter from the rain

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These sandstone rocks are the oldest on Eigg, about 200 million years old. They were inter cut with lava flows and intrusions which baked and hardened the sandstone, making it almost indestructible. The lava has crumbled and the sandstone remains – sculpted by lava and waves over millions of years.

These were also a mystery..

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Map showing Laig Bay and Singing Sands Bay

map 2

In the next few days I’ll be heading inland to the landscape and people of Cleadale (behind Laig Bay and the Singing Sands) with its beautifully ominous cliffs of ancient crumbling lava.

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No. 1

 

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

wave detail

wave detail

 

Welcome to the first of 50 paintings. (I’ll be posting a painting every day until the 29th of May)

Today’s painting is a view of the mountains of Rum from the shore at Laig Bay

Last week’s heavy weather extended all the way North and most of Eigg and the mountains of Rum were obscured in mist. Then in the evening when we arrived at Cuagach Bothy in Laig Bay, Askival, Hallival, Ainshval and Sgurr Nan Gillian emerged high up in the cloudy sky. (I love those epic-sounding names). It comes as something of a shock to me when mountains emerge from the mist, appearing higher up in the sky than expected after dwelling in the lowlands of Edinburgh!

I walked down to the vast stretch of Laig Bay’s silver-sanded beach and watched wave after wave approaching, the bay is so long that they appear to move in slow motion, each wave appearing sculpted, like bottle green glass.

This being the first in a series of 50 it’s a little tentatively painted, so I’m glad I have 50 paintings ahead of me, and two years to paint and tell the story of an island whose inhabitants work together to care for for the beauty of their environment. I won’t just be sharing a painting each day, I’ll introduce island dwellers, artists, musicians, writers, the island’s culture, history, geology, environment, and the story from past to present.

Here’s Cuagach bothy, basic but nonetheless idyllic!

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Eigg, with red dot showing Laig Bay

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