Tag Archives: Laig Bay

Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay

The photographs above show details of two paintings – ‘Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay’ and ‘Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay 2’.

In these works I wanted to combine simplicity and texture, and capture the stillness of Laig Bay (on the west coast of the Isle of Eigg) in the early evening. This was my first experience of this view, and I think there’s something about first impressions of landscape that can affect us in a different way from a view that’s familiar to us, or ‘every day’.

As an artist it’s all about trying to be present. The impact of a view as epic as this seems to empty the mind of its familiar habits or ‘chatter’.

In photographs, Laig Bay looks at its best in bright sunlight, but being there, on this particular evening, the mountains revealed themselves slowly from behind the clouds, even the waves seemed to move in slow motion

Rum from Laig Bay 1. Acrylic and ink on 10x10" wood

Rum from Laig Bay 1. Acrylic and ink on 10×10″ wood

A friend of mine, the talented poet Jennifer L Williams, responded to a later painting I made of this view (the full poem can be read Here). Although she hadn’t heard me describe my impression of the view, the lines of her poem captured this stillness, also the sense of closeness to the elements..

Outside where we belong with the fire and the sea’s glass
Its waves of green astonishment lavishing the sand
The creatures of the deep and the wild salt

 

This sense of closeness to landscape feels to me like ‘being in on a conversation’ – it feels as though there’s no barrier between you and the landscape. And when you think about it, there isn’t.

Rum from Laig Bay. Acrylic and ink on 10x10" wood

Rum from Laig Bay. Acrylic and ink on 10×10″ wood

I added sea salt and sand from Laig Bay to these paintings (you can see it especially in the bottom of this painting on the left). Sand adds a slightly sparkling impasto ‘body’ to the painting, and I like this because it adds something visceral to the painting – something tangible, not distanced or idealised.

 

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg No.49

Eigg Series No. 49. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 49. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1110660Today’s painting; The mountains of Rum from Laig Bay with turquoise sea in the foreground.

 

 

Tomorrow is the last day of ’50 Paintings of Eigg’ – I’ll miss this daily blog and painting! But I’ll still blog once or twice a week with painting updates etc. Just click ‘Follow’ on the right hand column under the Facebook section if you’d like to receive email updates.

I’ve mentioned a few influences throughout this blog, and can’t get to the end of the 50 paintings series without mentioning my love of perfume – I often use perfume and music  to put me in the right mood for painting (the hourly news on Radio 4 can somewhat deaden inspiration!)

I tend to think that perfume, and the sense of smell in general, have been given something of a back seat in terms of the human senses. Smell is often described as a primitive sense, linked to instinct, as if our other senses weren’t also integral to negotiating our environment!

And it’s almost as though love of perfume is something to be kept in a closet; a frivolous concern. Yet, think of those who after receiving cancer treatment may lose their sense of smell – with no knowledge of whether or not it will return.

This is what happened to a friend of mine (Calum, who runs the printing company Giclee UK, who make art prints from original paintings. I’ve relied on their services quite a few years now). He described how overwhelmingly sad he felt at the loss of smell following cancer treatment some years ago, and the sense of joy when many months later on opening a bottle of Shiraz wine, it all came flooding back.

EXTRACTOFLIMESEAUDETOILETTEIt gave him a new appreciation of scent, and on discovering that his favourite lime-scented soap from Penhaligons had been discontinued, he decided to concoct something similar himself, and thus an amateur perfume-maker was born!

Oakleaf, Ariundle Nature Reserve

Oakleaf, Ariundle Nature Reserve

I’ve only experimented a little with perfume absolutes and essences, but I’ve been collecting and testing perfumes for a few years now and have a good idea of what I’d like to create. So in collaboration with Calum, the plan is to create a new perfume based on the the scent of the Oak woods of Ariundle on the West Coast of Scotland.

Ariundle is one of the last remaining fragments of natural woodland that once covered all of Europe’s Atlantic coast, from Portugal to Norway, so it’s now a protected National Nature Reserve 2148-53.jpg[ProductMain]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be sure to post information here if and when we launch the perfume, which will of course be titled Ariundle. It’ll be a soft woody/green floral with hints of moss – I can’t wait to begin experiments!

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 16

Eigg Series. N. 16

Eigg Series. No. 16. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1100712Today’s painting – a view of Laig Bay and its silver/white sands. This was one of those days when I struggled to paint and despite years of painting it never seems to be in my control!

 

On some days it’s almost as though every stroke of paint adds something to the painting, while on others every brush stroke detracts, so I worked on three at the same time, the thinking being that one at least would work!

Having enjoyed the way ink stains gesso, today that effect was driving me mad and the sands of Laig Bay stubbornly refused to turn silver/white. Solution – cover it in varnish, blast it with a hairdryer and start again. Such are the minor challenges in my day.

Off the topic of Eigg somewhat, but still on the subject of painting – last night I was excited to see there was an excellent documentary ‘The Madness of Vermeer’ (BBC iplayer or catch up BBC4). Utterly fascinating and a revelation to discover just how chaotic and traumatic his life was.

Of the classic artists Vermeer is without doubt my favourite – and the Northern Renaissance in general, probably because it’s a light I understand, having lived in the north.

But also for the same reason others love Northern Renaissance art – the sense of utter stillness; so at odds with the chaos of Vermeer’s life. It seems that he spent a lifetime trying to capture in paint the ideal conditions of peace that eluded him all his short life.

Poring over Vermeer’s work in loving detail, presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon pointed out the deliberate rough edges amongst the perfected brushwork, which catch the eye and reflect light. Also the use of sand to capture light (at least I’m doing something Vermeer-esque!).

It was the conclusion of the documentary that so moved me, I won’t paraphrase and will just add this link for your viewing pleasure! –

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074pym/Secret_Lives_of_the_Artists_The_Madness_of_Vermeer/

And a photograph of a Laig Bay wave in nothern light..

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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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