Today’s paintings – two studies of the River Tweed.
As mentioned in last Sunday’s post this year I’ll be painting the Borders landscapes of Scotland and England.
There’s no particular topical reason for this (Scottish independence for example) – I just decided to paint the Borders because it’s such a familiar landscape and I’ve been visiting the area since I was a girl.
In summer we usually spend quite a lot of time at the River Tweed – building fires, canoeing, or just sitting around enjoying a picnic.
Borders countryside is quite gentle compared to the Scottish Highlands, or even the Yorkshire Dales farther south, but there’s definitely a distinct Borders look and feel; characteristic rolling hills, the patchwork of farmland, tree plantations, un-tended areas of wilderness that are variously verdant and lush, or stark and bleak.
There are numerous lochs, reservoirs, castles, Peel towers and rivers. Dry-stone dykes, sheep – loads of them, and horses (an excuse for me to paint horses, which I love to do!) And of course there are the west and east coastlines in Dumfries and at Berwick.
It’s very varied, which is why I’m looking forward to painting this series so much. As always, I’ll blog about the places I paint since that’s all part of the fun. People, the arts, places to visit and so on. Also, the Borders country has a very dramatic history – due partly to wars between Scotland and England.
‘Reiving’ (raiding cattle and other resources across the borders) became a way of life for many in the Borders.
In the first place this was through necessity – as a side effect of war and its devastating impact on the land, but then even in peace time Border Reivers chose to live this way, and they didn’t take kindly to being monitored by the authorities of the time!
I’ve been doing quite a bit of research and in tomorrow’s blog, I’ll explore more about the Border Reivers. You’ve maybe read or heard of Sir Walter Scott’s famous stories about the Borders, and though factual in terms of names and some events, these were highly romanticised.
In fact, the more I read about Border Reivers history (Charles MacDonald Fraser’s ‘Steel Bonnets’ among other books) the more it sounds like a cross between cowboys, guerilla warfare and the Mafiosi (but more anarchic!)
Nowadays the Borders are as calm and safe as it gets – sleepy villages with antiques shops and small art galleries, sheep farmers, baroque hotels. You’d never guess its dark and difficult history, the only clues to the past in the landscape are the occasional Peel Towers (defensive look-out towers) dotted around the countryside, and of course there’s a wealth of literature and history to be explored in the numerous books on the subject, also castles, abbeys, ancient houses and museums
So how did this area change so radically after the Union of the Crowns in 1707? I suspect that this may reveal yet more grim history. It’s not all gloom though – there are Borders Ballads and poems, not to mention the beautiful landscape of which I have many happy memories, and there’s another reason I want to explore Borders history; one of the most notorious Borders Clans or families were the Kerrs, and as my Grandmother was a Kerr, I definitely have ancestors from the Borders!
So this year’s blog will be a combo of painting forays and ‘Who do you think you are’ minus the celebrity angle!
Today’s paintings again, from different angles, showing texture/size etc. (All paintings at 5×5 inches are available to buy at £57 each, or £100 for two)