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Iona – finished series

The complete Iona series, above.

Finished at last! All I have to do now is varnish the rockpool paintings and the largest ‘Sound of Iona’ painting, wait a couple of days for them to dry and post them to the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, where they’ll be part of a three-person exhibition launching on the 15th September. If you’re in the area I hope you’ll drop in to have a look.

A touch of varnish will add lustre to the vivid colours of some of the paintings, though some will be left as they are.

I’m quite happy with the series and I’ll work on a couple more for the Resipole Gallery in Acharacle, for their Autumn exhibition which launches this September (will add more info when I have exact dates). Just for fun I’ll be travelling to Acharacle in the west Highlands to deliver them in person – it’s a beautiful area and it will be nice to enjoy what’s left of the summer weather.

That’s it until the next series, which will be for the Resipole, then more paintings for the Limetree at this year’s Edinburgh Art Fair, and for their Christmas show – both exhibitions in November.

The ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’ series will also be on show at the Citadel Bookshop, Edinburgh as part of the Colony of Artists show this September

Iona series nearly finished, 2

‘Sound of Iona II. (Isle of Iona)’. Mixed media on 36×36″ wood panel. Rose Strang, August 2018

Nearly there with the largest work, above – ‘Sound of Iona II’, at 36×36″ Tomorrow I’ll be able to post the entire series here.

Incidentally the photos of these paintings are not entirely balanced colour-wise etc – as I’m not back in my own flat with usual computer software until 26th August. It’s frustrating but these images give a fairly good idea at least. They’re not picking up texture either, so in real life I do think they are stronger.

‘Sound of Iona I’ has already been reserved, thank you to the buyer, it’s always good to have a wee red dot next to a painting at the launch of an exhibition!

Soon I’ll post all info about the show, which is at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, and starts 15th September. I’ll be attending the preview and really look forward to it.

Iona series, nearly finished

‘Seagull, St Ronan’s Bay (Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 16×12″ wood panel. Rose Strang, August 2018

‘Green Sea, North Beach. (Isle of Iona)’. Mixed media on 16×12″ wood panel. Rose Strang, August 2018.

Today’s and yesterday’s finished paintings, above.

My painting session which began in the beautiful, changeable Hebridean light and weather of Iona, then in the strange manicured lawns of Barnton, is near conclusion!

I’m now working on the final large painting, at about 3×3 feet, which will be a larger version of ‘Sound of Iona’. I think I’ve started to find my way a bit with ‘Seagull, St Ronan’s Bay’, which maybe says something about the layers of history of Iona, also there are layers of experience when there – flocks of tourists and over-priced gift shops, then here and there glimpses of the wilderness and peace the Benedictine monks or nuns of the 12th century might have experienced, or further back to St Columba in the 7th century. The colours, rocks and light never change though, not in my lifetime anyway.

I first read about Iona when I was about 20, touring the Orkney Isles with a theatre company. I read a book by William Sharp, a Scottish writer who adopted the pseudonym of Fiona Macleod to express his imaginative, emotional and subjective response to the island. It was called ‘The Island of Dreams’, written in 1913. He wrote very poetically about the island …

‘In spiritual geography Iona is the mecca of the Gael. It is but a small isle, fashioned of a little sand, a few grasses salt with spray of an ever restless wave, a few rocks that wade in heather, and upon whose brows the sea-wind weaves the yellow lichen’.

Also with moving expression of his spiritual response to Iona ..

There are moments when the soul takes wings: what it has to remember, it remembers; what it loves it loves still more; what it longs for to that it flies.

This series is just the beginning of my creative response to the island. I’ll be back in winter, when I’ll be staying at Lagandorain in the north of Iona. It’s been a dream of mine since about 1990, to respond creatively to Iona. Now seems a good time since I’m no longer burdened with the idea of creating something worthy of the island, and the subsequent feeling of inadequacy that thought brings – the thing is just to create!

The series will be on exhibition, alongside two other artists I’m proud to be exhibiting with (Vivienne Williams and Henry Jabbour) at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, with whom I’m delighted to be exhibiting again (sounds like a typical statement, but they really are great to work with!)

I’ll post more details about the exhibition soon – it launches 15th September.

Citadel Book Shop event

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re in Edinburgh this Saturday 11th Aug’, the Citadel Bookshop is celebrating its birthday with refreshments, readings and music from 10am to 5pm.

The shop is on Montrose Terrace, Abbeyhill (map below) and is run by poet Alan Spence and his wife Janini.

 

 

 

 

I also have a few of my paintings on display there (from the Wells of Arthur’s Seat project, a couple of paintings from the series below).

So there you are, that’s several reasons to drop by this Saturday! You’ll be sure of a warm welcome from Alan and Janini. It’s a peaceful haven from the frenetic Fringe 🙂

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Stream’ Mixed media on 10 x 10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018 £180

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Swimming Toad, Hunter’s Bog’ Mixed media on 16 x 13 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018 £250

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iona series in progress – 2

 Above, more works in progress for the Iona series.

The third one directly above (blue sea with turquoise highlights in sunset) will express something of a more personal experience on Iona when I’m finished with it. I think the other two are more about the incredible colours, which make their impression on everyone when they first visit the island.

I’ve mentioned the Scottish Colourists in my last post – I think every artist has to be aware of their creative impression of the island. That doesn’t change the fact that as an artist you feel the impetus to respond to those colours, but I suppose I want to show different impressions if I can. More paintings to follow in the next few days…

This proving to be the strangest summer – first on Iona in a tent, with slugs, spiders, wind and rain, now in the manicured and comfortably-off lawns of Barnton in north-west Edinburgh. (Having rented out my flat in Edinburgh for the July/August I’d planned to stay in a cottage up north but a few changes came up, so I’m staying in the former home of my niece’s partner’s grandad (where my niece and partner also stayed recently) while they travel around Europe – everyone’s a bit out of their usual place at the moment!)…

This area is where many comfortably-off folks tend to retire – ultra peaceful and, to me anyway, quite strange. The area is bristling with vast golf courses all the way down to Crammond Village, hedged off everywhere. ‘Do not trespass’ signs abound, but the expanses of green and lack of noise brings in local wildlife – yesterday evening a roe deer walked past the french window and today three squirrels decided to explore the living room, it’s ‘Bambi’-meets-suburbia.

Maybe my recent tent experience had something to do with it, but the only way I could sleep last night was on a carry-mat on the living room floor next to the open french window!

It’s interesting to be out of my comfort zone – no distractions for the moment which makes me focus on painting, but more than that it challenges me to deal with odd circumstances (yes, I know – pretty first world challenges!) but it means perhaps I’m more alert, less subjective – taken out of my usual mind-set, or something like that.

On my way back from Iona the train was delayed near Dalmally – a west Highland Idyll of mountains which was particularly idyllic on that day as the weather was so unusually hot and the skies were cloudless so you could see the mountains all the way to the summits in their green summeriness. The station platform had doors leading off to rooms titled ‘Writer’s Retreat’ or ‘Wool-worker’s Studio’ – people there had made their own unique environment and changed all expectations of a railway platform. I chatted to someone who worked on luxury yachts then, for complete contrast, headed into the wildest Highland mountains for a few months each year to live off the land from fishing and snares, without even a tent!

All these differing habitats – there’s something there that inspires me very much. I look forward to Iona in winter this year (as mentioned in my previous post there’s a space for artists there in winter).

Enough havering, more paintings tomorrow …

 

Portrait of Richard Demarco

‘Portrait of Richard Demarco’. Blackboard paint, gesso and pencil on 36×36 inch wood panel. Rose Strang, January 2018

Above, my portrait (created in January this year) of Richard Demarco.

I submitted this for the Scottish Portrait Awards but wasn’t successful. I didn’t feel too disappointed about this though, since most artists who submitted work are dedicated portrait artists (and my usual work is landscape) also those shortlisted are very talented.

I do think it’s a good portrait though! So I’m submitting it for another exhibition and will see what happens in the next month or so.

Here is the official description of the portrait …

This portrait of Richard Demarco is my response to his dedication to meaningful art and its potential role in society. Like many people involved in the arts in Scotland or beyond I’ve worked and been involved with the Demarco Foundation in many ways, over the years.

The portrait began with sketches of Richard in person at Summerhall, which were then worked up later in my studio. The backdrop of the portrait is a wood panel painted with blackboard paint, the portrait itself is painted free-hand with gesso, on Richard’s left is a rough copy of Beuy’s drawing of a stag, its antlers reach up to the pencil drawing (more visible when viewed in person) of three telegraph poles representing the road to Meikle Seggie.

I wanted to capture the qualities of courage and determination, also a certain humour, but ultimately I hope this portrait expresses renewal of faith in art in the most challenging circumstances – the concept of art as a healing force that might encourage dialogue and understanding across boundaries of place and prejudice.

More info on Richard Demarco CBE, and the Demarco European Art Foundation Here