Author Archives: rosestrang

About rosestrang

Artist, Painter

Boats

'Boats in Lindisfarne Harbour, Early Evening'. Oil on 19x10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Boats in Lindisfarne Harbour, Early Evening’. Oil on 19×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

'Oil Tanker Near North Berwick'. Oil on 19x11 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Oil Tanker Near North Berwick’. Oil on 19×11 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

Above, yesterday’s paintings of boats. I thought I’d send them in for the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual award.

I’d ran out out of non toxic solvent and used turps – horrible stuff, I felt quite sick and am still recovering, hence the short post!

'Forest of Ardban'. Oil on 20 x 10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

Forests of Ardban

Above; Forest of Ardban. Oil on 20 x 10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.

This painting, finished today, is for a private client, it was a delight to paint and I’m still really enjoying the process of oil paints – they seem to do half my work for me in the way they serindipitously merge and meandre on the wood!

These forests, near Applecross in the west coast of Scotland, are beautifully wild and untouched. I wanted to get across that feel almost of northern rain forest – lush and primordial, Venusian, magical and fecund! I’m happy to say I’m heading up there (travel restrictions willing) later this year, where I’ll be painting a new series for the excellent Limetree Gallery in Bristol.

The exhibition will be a three-artist show and I’ll post more about that soon. It’s an absolute delight to be exhibiting again, especially with a gallery that I’ve really enjoyed working with over the years. You can view their website here – Limetree Gallery, Bristol

'Santa Maria Della Salute'. Oil on A4 board. Rose Strang 2020

Happy 90th Birthday Richard Demarco!

Above, my painting response for Richard Demarco’s 90th birthday.

Richard Demarco and Rose Strang, National Galleries, Edinburgh. Photo Roddy Martine 2016

Richard Demarco and Rose Strang, National Galleries, Edinburgh. Photo Roddy Martine 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in 1999 after I’d graduated art college, I started working at the Demarco European Art Foundation. I have many memories of that time, but one that stays with me is Richard Demarco giving me a fierce hug and saying ‘you must stay strong in this terrifying world!’

It wasn’t a platitude; it came from his knowledge of maintaining a vision, staying consistently strong in hard circumstances. I took it to heart and it helped me at a time when I’d been struggling with long-term, sometimes crippling anxiety.

Since then I’ve come to treasure and enjoy my life – that level of anxiety is thankfully a thing of the past. But now, more than ever, artists must respond to their world with truth and sensitivity. Not an easy task when the art world revolves around sales, rather than ideas, truth, or art as a healing force. The Demarco galleries and archives are a rare and unique testament to that struggle.

My painting is one of many creative responses for a digital 90th birthday card celebrating Richard’s unique life in art plus many creative friendships. You can view the card here …

Festschrift

The painting above is called Santa Maria Della Salute. Its references are multi-layered, but many are probably only obvious to Richard Demarco or anyone familiar with the Demarco archives and creative work over the decades.

So for that reason, I’ve added (below) my letter to Richard, which accompanies the painting and goes some way towards explaining its content …

Santa Maria Della Salute. Oil on A4 board (salvaged from a discarded kitchen cabinet made in 1975 by a Polish immigrant who arrived in Leith, Edinburgh in 1971). Rose Strang 2020.

18/06/2020

Dear Richard,

Wishing you a happy 90th birthday! This artwork reflects my experiences of getting to know yourself and Terry Anne Newman over the years – it refers to a variety of ideas, including our trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland in 2000 and Venice in 2001.

The painting is a rough sketch of Santa Maria Della Salute in Venice, emerging in mysterious moonlight (as I saw it for the first time when we arrived at night by boat). Scratched into the surface is a depiction of hands connected in friendship, and lines from two poems; ‘A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford’ by Irish poet Derek Mahon, 1975 and ‘Santa Maria Della Salute’, by Serbian poet Laza Kostic, 1909.

Your annotation style is echoed with text around the painting. Terry’s creative influence is echoed in my choice to etch my picture into black paint on white ground!

I also chose the Santa Maria Della Salute because it was an architectural response to the plague in 17th century Venice, or more accurately a votive offering. In your words ‘art aspires to a condition of prayer’.

In all my efforts as an artist, the more meaningful works I’ve created have been in response to your work and what the Demarco Gallery and Archives represent. We need that inspiration, or place for imagination to grow, separate from the commercial art world.

Which is why, when contemplating an artwork in response to the Demarco archives, lines from Derek Mahon’s ‘A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford’ came to mind – also as a reminder of the journey to Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2000:

Even now there are places where a thought might grow …

I remember when, during the trip to Venice, we’d stopped to contemplate the water and were startled from our daydreams when you suddenly barked at us: ‘COME ON, we’re in danger of becoming tourists!’ I found that quite amusing back then, but twenty years later, I feel that urgency too.

 You with your light meter and relaxed itinerary,

Let not our naive labours have been in vain!

 Wishing you the best of health and a happy birthday Richard, thank you for all your inspiration and friendship. I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

 Love,

Rose X

For anyone interested in the cosmos there’s another reference to Richard’s birthdate, July 9th, in the painting above!

The poems can be read in full here: A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford and here; Santa Maria Della Salute

More on Richard Demarco, the gallery and archives Here

And lastly, you can view a recent short film ‘Demarco at 90’ below.

National Galleries of Scotland Director-General Sir John Leighton interviews Richard Demarco CBE as we celebrate the career of one of Scotland’s most significant cultural figures in art. Directed by Dr. Marco J Federici

'Aberlady Dunes'. Mixed media on 30x30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission, NFS).

Art Commissions

Above, Aberlady Dunes. Mixed media on 30×30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission).

Lockdown has been a good time to focus on private commissions. I’ve found it grounding and uplifting to focus on painting, and I think most people find art uplifting – a solace in strange and anxious times.

I accept most landscape commissions, even if it’s from a photo of someone’s favourite landscape, as long as I’ve been there and experienced that particular light, I’m able to paint it. I don’t aim for photo-realism. I deliberately keep brushwork as loose and expressive as possible and paint quickly for the sense of energy I’d feel if I was in situ. Painting En plein air is ideal of course, but with experience you can bring that same energy to painting in the studio.

The first commission this year – Aberlady Dunes – (above) was commissioned by a friend of the family who liked one of my previous smaller paintings of Aberlady. He’d lived on Lindisfarne some years ago and loved the sense of space  -stretching to the horizon across the marram grass to the sea and sand beyond.

North Berwick, Summer was commissioned by a doctor who lives in England who’d seen Aberlady Dunes and wondered if I could capture a stretch of his favourite coast near North Berwick, but on a smaller scale. I chose a spot that’s very familiar to me, just past the headland south of the town. It has many happy associations since I’ve been going there with family and friends since childhood, so it was a pleasure to paint.

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

‘North Berwick, Summer’. Mixed media on 18×18″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (Private Commission).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most recent – Sunrise, Ruby Bay, Fife  captures sunrise on Ruby Bay on the east coast of Scotland. It’s very large and I decided to experiment with acrylics and oils together with this one. I think I’m onto something as it came together in a very atmospheric way in the end. You can read more about painting it Here

'Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36x36" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (private commission)

‘Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36×36″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (private commission)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To me, the difference in light between the east and west coast of Scotland is very clear – especially at dawn or sunrise. This painting below shows dawn on the west coast – far more diffused, since the sun, rising from the east, doesn’t touch the sea till later – you see the sun’s warmth more in the under-lit clouds.

‘Dawn, Ardtoe’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019. £495

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you like the look of these paintings and are interested in commissioning me, you can contact me at rose.strang@gmail.com

I’ll be happy to discuss price with you (the painting price varies according to size of course) and what mood or atmosphere you’re looking for. Below are a few more of my paintings showing a myriad of moods and atmosphere! …

 

 

'Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36x36" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (private commission)

Sunrise, Ruby Bay.

Above: Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36×36″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.

Below, some details from the painting …

 

This latest private painting commission is of Ruby Bay in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It’s so-called because if you sift through the small pebbles in the bay you can find tiny little garnets, not rubies as such but very like them!

Ruby Bay is on the Fife coastal path, near Elie Bay. It’s a beautiful stretch of coast-  the most famous beach on that stretch being St Andrews (of Chariots of Fire fame). The tower, built in 1779, is called Lady’s Tower as it was used by Lady Janet Anstruther (Janet Fall) as a bathing tower – a rich person’s beach hut if you like!

I wanted to capture the classic cool tones of an east coast sunrise – clear, cool and only slightly hazy. Looking at this painting in real life (it’s bigger than it seems form the photo at thirty six by thirty six inches) you sense movement from a calm tide about to recede from its high point. The lilac tones of pre-dawn are just about disappearing, replaced by clear turquoise. Lemon-yellow sunlight is just kissing the tips of the rocks, tower and grass.

The painting took about six days. It was started with gesso to lay down composition and background texture, then acrylics to get contrasts, the acid tones of lichen and the built up layers of rough-textured rock. Lastly I used oils for the sea and sky, and the cool light blue in the shadows.

It’s been a pleasure to paint  – complicated and with varying textures, but I think I’ve captured the calm and the pure light of sunrise in the east. I’m quite keen now to have another go on smaller wood panel to create a more abstract version.

The photos below show most stages of the painting …

 

 

'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!