'Road. Kintail' Oil on 7x5" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Applecross Series day 4

'Ardban. Green Sea'. Oil on 17x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban. Green Sea’. Oil on 17×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Above, today’s paintings for the Applecross Series which launches at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol on 31st October. The featured painting at the top is ‘Road. Kintail’. Oil on 7×5″ wood.

I’m quite excited about ‘Road. Kintail’ as I love taking photos and sketching while in the car (as a passenger of course!) The road itself provides great perspective and it’s fun trying to sketch or photograph in a moving car. This has that optimistic holiday feel – going somewhere. I wonder if it will appeal to others the same way it does me.

I’m persevering with the oil paints. I love the effects but it’s so messy – I spend half my energy cleaning up at the end of the day!

That’s it for the week. My partner and I are designing a dress this weekend – our new creative adventure – oil-paint-covered hands and expensive fabric do not mix!

More paintings on Tuesday …

Applecross Series day 3

'Ardban Evening' Oil on 17x112 wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban Evening’ Oil on 17×112 wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Ardban, Morning Mist' Oil on 17x112 wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban, Morning Mist’ Oil on 17×112 wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings of Applecross for the Limetree exhibition which launches 31st October.

A bit more experimentation today as I feel my way into this new series. These are both in oils – I wanted to say a bit more with less. It’s not quite getting there yet but these have more of the mood I’m trying to capture. I’ll be painting seven seas in different moods, also forests. Just to try something completely new I’ll be painting some road sketches sine the journey to Applecross is so dramatic.

More tomorrow …

Applecross Series day 2

Two more paintings in progress, above.

These are actually the two paintings from yesterday, messed up! I’m struggling to find the way forward with the series which is normal at this stage though pretty tiring. I completely wiped out the stormier painting and sketched in oils, then added a top layer of oils to the other one. Neither painting seems to be improved upon but that’s the way it goes!

My aim is to semi-abstract the paintings a little to get the mood in a more loose or painterly way. I don’t want a painting that simply says ‘this is what the sea looked like on Monday’. Abstracting paintings is the most difficult thing to do since you’re attempting to retain the essential things, colours, shapes and so on. It takes a more discerning eye and focused mind to spot what works – a state of mind I lacked somewhat today. Ah well, it’s good to get started at least. More painting tomorrow. ..

(In progress). Ardban Waves, Evening. Mixed media on 17x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Psalms and the Sea

Above  – paintings in progress for the upcoming exhibition at the Limetree gallery, Bristol. 31st October.

This is a new series for the Limtetree, which I started while on holiday last week in the Applecross Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland.

Thanks to the ever-changing west coast weather, the sea changes its mood constantly, but I’ve never seen a white rainbow before! (see photo below). The cottage we stayed in is a forty minute walk from the road, so you have to take all your food, equipment and bedding on your back. It’s part of the charm of staying here, but we prepared ourselves for our arrival by taking more walks up Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat for a few weeks beforehand – it definitely enhances the experience to be fit enough to explore a bit.

 

Applecross is reached by driving up the Bealach na Ba (the pass of the cows) which is always a pretty dramatic experience visually, more than that though, the journey up this single track road with few passing places seems to inspire the entire spectrum of human behaviour – it’s quite entertaining!

 

You can see traces, in the remains of cottages everywhere, attesting to the fact that these coasts were home to larger communities in the past, many of whom would have struggled in the years after the Highland Clearances. That history has been written about extensively so I won’t go into it here, except to say that it played into my response to the landscape to an extent, and will come in to the mood of my paintings. I sense that though these communities struggled, they loved the landscape and its many moods and it was part of their faith.

Applecross is an area of ancient Christian pilgrimage from the 7th century and traces of that past include a classic 7th century stone Celtic cross –  now housed in Edinburgh’s Museum of Scotland

My friend Donald (who organised the holiday as he’s been visiting the area for many years) played some Lewisian/Hebridean Psalm singing while we were in the cottage; it speaks of a tight-knit religious community, but also (to my imagination anyway) it evokes the ebb and flow of the changing sea. Here’s a video clip …

 

I’ll be adding to the paintings series here over the next few weeks, so if you like the look of any of the paintings and would like to reserve one before the exhibition, please contact the Limetree Gallery on this link – https://www.limetreegallery.com/contact/

Lastly, some more photos from our stay. Thanks again to Donald, Adam and Catherine for a lovely and hugely inspiring week!

 

 

Stormy Sea. Ardban'. Charcoal on 31x22" paper. Rose Strang 2019

Off to Wander …

Above, ‘Stormy Sea. Ardban’. Charcoal on 31×22″ paper. Rose Strang 2019.

‘Off to Wander’ is the title of  a book I received in the post yesterday …

'Off to Wander'. Mary McCormick

‘Off to Wander’. Mary McCormick

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Excerpt) 'Off to Wander'. Mary McCormick

(Excerpt) ‘Off to Wander’. Mary McCormick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Mary McCormick while on an artist’s residency on the Isle of Iona in Autumn 2018. I was very grateful for her grounded presence in the hostel, which attracted numerous interesting characters, not all easy to get along with! Mary decided to close her gardening business at the age of 68, to travel around the world on a shoestring budget. Iona was one of her last destinations before she returned to the US to find work conserving its depleted grasslands.

Her book is a real inspiration to me as I’m attempting to write a series of small books to accompany my paintings – it’s proving a challenge! Not the writing (which I enjoy) but the choices on what to keep in or out of the books, how much information, how formal or informal and so on.

I love the fragments of experience in Mary’s book and the non-linear style. Have a read of the small excerpt above which is a lovely example of Mary’s humour and meditative observations. If you’d like to buy a copy you can contact Mary McCormick via email on:

offtowander@swcp.com and if she has enough copies left she’ll post it out to you.

I’m off for a wander myself next week (with my partner Adam, my friend Donald, and sister, Catherine)  to the wonderful Applecross Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. We were there last year, during which time I painted a series for a gallery in Fortwilliam.

This year I’m painting a series of new works for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. The exhibition opens 31st October and (lockdown restrictions willing) I’ll be traveling down there to meet people (one-to-one) who are interested in the paintings. I’m honoured to be showing alongside two artists whose work I admire: Anna King and Mhairi McGregor .

As always I’ll update painting progress from Applecross. In the meantime, here are some lovely pictures from our stay last year!

 

 

 

 

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 …