Tag Archives: scottish landscape art

Resipole, Ardnamurchan

The exhibition launch at the Resipole Gallery was fun and convivial, and Ardnamurchan was beautiful as always. (above – ‘Sanna Bay, Seaweed’, below, photos from the Resipole) ..

 

 

 

 

The exhibition continues until 28th June. All artworks on this link, also contacts for the gallery if you have any queries about the paintings: https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/rose-strang

I went up there with a few friends and we stayed on the beach at Ardtoe in the Ardnamurchan peninsula – midgy but lovely.

Some photos –  in the afternoon, sunset then dawn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing the castles and mythology theme for the Planets Series, we visited Castle Tioram which, though very overcast, looked mythical as ever, more so perhaps. Bad weather suits the west coast and highlands! These luscious pink rhododendrons are everywhere in May and June on the West Coast …

 

 

 

We sheltered in my favourite hotel – the Glenfinnan Hotel at Loch Sheil…

 

 

 

And lastly, some photos taken while we drove through Glencoe – it looks iconically Glencoe-esque in this weather …

 

 

 

Sanna Bay

‘Sanna Bay (sea shallows)’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2019

‘Sanna Bay (teal water)’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s paintings of the wonderful Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan. I’m quite happy with the water effect in Sanna Bay (shallow water) which doesn’t really show up in a photo – a bit of underlying texture and colour then a shallow glaze of turquoise with varnish. The painting directly above ‘painted itself’ as they say – always a good thing as it feels like I’m getting into the flow of this series of Ardnamurchan.

The exhibition of these paintings will be at the Resipole Gallery – a three person exhibition which launches on the 17th May. I’m going to take a trip up there for the opening, also for more painting.

Sunart and Ardnamurchan

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan. Rose Strang 2019

Words and photos can’t do justice to the beauty of Ardnamurchan and Sunart. What an utterly inspiring experience it was.

Hopefully my upcoming paintings will capture something of how it feels to stand on the beach of Sanna. The light there makes you feel you’ve entered a different dimension, or as though you’re seeing beyond normal perceptions – everything opens up, including your self.

Which sounds as though I was on some sort of druggy trip, and it is a sort of high, but it’s more hyper-reality, almost raw in a way. It was an emotional experience, which is often how it feels when you’re in these places. It’s strange to return to Edinburgh – nice to be back home and what’s familiar, but it feels several steps removed from Sanna and Ariundel forest, so I must keep it alive in my mind and imagination for the paintings I’ll be working on, because nice as these photos are they don’t get what it’s like to be there.

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan. Rose Strang 2019

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan. Rose Strang 2019

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan. Rose Strang 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took hundreds of photos, made various sketches and I’ll create a couple of edited videos as well as paintings I think. Also my friend Donald (who was an excellent companion throughout the trip), will hopefully be recording a guitar response to the videos once they’re made. Donald felt similarly moved by the experience; as he described it  –

‘the ocean, that was the most cosmic for me, looking beyond the sky, then inside the forest, walking the leaf-strewn path, then the wild and windy moors and glens from a speeding metal box’.

Absolutely. Something I’ve always really loved about these journeys is the contrast between the road-trip/car-time – chatting and playing music, the sound of the engine and the feel of impetus – then when you leave that small human-made world of your ‘speeding metal box’ and stand still on a beach of epic proportions looking out to the Atlantic – the almost shock of silence and space.

Also, Sanna is I think the most beautiful beach of the west coast and islands of Scotland I’ve seen. It felt sad to leave and I found myself walking backwards for several minutes as we headed back to the car. It was getting towards evening and it’s a long drive across the wildest parts of the Ardnamurchan peninsula on single-track roads …

We also stopped that day at Castle Tioram, which has to be one of the world’s most beautiful settings for a castle. This is my third visit there, and each time I learn more about the area, the centuries of history and its golden age before Culloden and the Highland clearances. (I wrote about this in a previous post, link Here).

Castle Tioram, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

Castle Tioram, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In that blog post I also talked about Ariundle oakwood in Sunart (which is before you head out west on the proper peninsula of Ardnamurchan). Suaineart ghorm an daraich – Green Sunart of the Oaks.

We visited Ariundle the next day and it was such a contrasting experience to the epic feel of Sanna. Such a gentle feeling amidst all those multi-hued mossy hillocks, flowing streams and lichen-covered oaks. (I made sure to pick up a pile of oak twigs for my niece, who wants to frame a couple of oak-leaves she was given at the hobbit-land place she visited in New Zealand!).

Ariundle – it is quite a Tolkien-esque sounding name don’t you think? It means shieling (or ‘settlement’) in the fair meadow. It’s heartening to see how much conservation work is going on there to preserve it – Ariundle is a remnant of the ancient oakwoods that once stretched from Portugal to Norway along the Atlantic coast – hence why it’s described as Atlantic oakwood.

Ariundle Oakwood, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

Ariundle Oakwood, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

Ariundle Oakwood, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

Ariundle Oakwood, Sunart. Rose Strang 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I discovered a new hobby on the return to Edinburgh – sketching the surrounding landscape from the car, it makes you quickly focus on the obvious points, shapes and lines – here they are (scenes from Corran ferry, Glencoe, Rannoch Moor and Balquhidder) …

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

Road sketches. Rose Strang 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always like to visit Balquhidder before returning to Edinburgh, as it’s the last part of the Highlands before the relative flatness of Lothian – it eases the shock of re-entering the city I suppose!

You head off the motorway after Edinchip on a little bypass, then you see the Mhor84 cafe, which serves excellent coffee and nice cakes, but if there’s time it’s nice to drive under the bridge and towards the village of Balquhidder then along the beautiful shores of Loch Voil. It’s always fairly quiet as the road ends after a few miles at the end of the loch – after that it would be a lo-o-ng and arduous walk over the mountains west to the coast again, if you wanted to keep going.

After a mile or so along the loch, you get to Monachyle Mhor Hotel, where you can stop for a drink by the open fire if it’s cold, or if it’s warm sit outside admiring oak trees, shimmering loch and mountain valleys. The hotel interior is lovely (if a bit ‘Farrow and Ball’ – you know – tasteful chalky paint finishes in deep colours or neutrals!) also they have an impressive art collection – it’s kind of perfect, as hotels go, I’ve yet to find out how much it costs to actually stay there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I’ve been gessoe-ing up my wood panels. I’ll make a little road-trip video, then it’ll be on with the paintings, and a fuller video with paintings and music, wish me luck! In a few days I’ll post the first video, and also some info about an upcoming three-person exhibition at the Resipole Gallery in Sunart, which I’m looking forward to. I’m not forgetting that these paintings are part of my planets series. March is related to Mars – war, heroism and sacrifice, also early spring – Mars Silvanus –  new leaves – and the corresponding Narnian book, Prince Caspian. More on that too in later posts …

Limetree Gallery, exhibition launch

What an absolute pleasure it was to travel down to Bristol for the launch of Texture – the new exhibition at the Limetree Gallery featuring works by Vivienne Williams, Henry Jabour and myself.

I was so busy in conversation with people there I forgot to take more photos as the day progressed, but as you can see it was beautifully curated by gallery owners Sue and Stephen…

 

 

 

 

Sue’s aesthetic sensitivity to colour and form, in the placing of glass art, paintings and ceramics was just lovely; I particularly enjoyed the way these gorgeously textured black and turquoise glazed ceramics (below) related to my Iona paintings (apologies I forgot to take a note of the ceramics artist, but if you’re interested in these or any other works you can find these on the Limetree Gallery website which has contact details too).

 

 

Also the glass forms echoing Vivienne’s calm, elegant still-life paintings, and the vivid colours echoed in Henry Jabour’s atmospheric, expressive figurative work. Luckily I arrived early so I was able to appreciate it before the day became busier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was great to meet Henry and Vivienne, and to chat more with Sue and Stephen too, whose very genuine interest in the work that their artists produce is outstanding – I felt warmly welcomed.

I’d decided to stay two nights in Bristol, so was able to catch up with friends nearby, hang out in Bristol’s numerous waterfront cafes, and take a boat trip! …

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks again to the Limetree Gallery for their outstanding friendly, professional support, and for a really successful exhibition – almost all of my works sold, so I want to express warm thanks to the buyers too, it’s most encouraging, and much appreciated!

All works in the exhibition can be viewed Here

I’ll be staying on the Isle of Iona again from the 21st October to 4th November this year, and creating new works for the Limetree’s winter exhibition and the Edinburgh Art Fair in November. I look forward to being on the island in winter-time where I’ll have time and peace to develop my creative response to the island.

Limetree exhibition on Saturday 15th September

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

Just 11 days to go until the launch of the new three-artist exhibition Texture, at the Limetree Gallery in Bristol!

The private view is on Sat’ 15th September from 11am to 3pm. I hope if you’re in the area you’ll drop in to see the work, which includes beautiful paintings by Vivienne Williams RCA and Henry Jabbour, also my recent paintings of Iona (see below).

Two have sold (Iona I and Iona II) also several by Henry Jabbour and Vivienne Williams, so if you’re interested in buying and don’t want to miss the opportunity, give the gallery a ring and they’ll reserve the work for you (contact details on link below)

The Limetree in Bristol is a lovely gallery next to the waterside, with large windows that bring in plenty of natural light – have a look at this link to Google maps which gives a 3D view of the space –

3D View, Limetree Gallery 

Map and contact details

Wells of Arthur’s Seat – day 2

(in progress)’St Anthony’s Chapel II’. Mixed media on 24×16 inch wood panel. Rose Strang, 2018

(in progress)’Tree Grove (Arthur’s Seat)’. Mixed media on 10×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang, 2018

(in progress)’Spring (Arthur’s Seat)’. Mixed media on 10×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang, 2018

(in progress)’Green Spring (Arthur’s Seat)’. Mixed media on 10×8 inch wood panel. Rose Strang, 2018

Today’s paintings for the Arthur’s Seat exhibition and project, all info Here

More experimentation today, which got quite messy. I’ll have a look at these tomorrow and decide what to do with them. They’re loosely based on views of St Anthony’s Chapel, springs that run through the valleys of Arthur’s Seat and a grove of trees in Hunter’s Bog. I definitely want to progress in a more expressive direction, to convey atmosphere rather than a mimetic approach. It’s a bit of a return to previous styles which will suit this project.

The bits that work for me are the energy expressed in looser brushwork and more primal colours, and the sense of feeling a place as opposed to seeing it simply as it’s observed. I like the connection between clouds and spring-water through drips in ‘Green Spring’ (which needs a bit more work). I’m also trying to get a sense of flow between elements of sky, land and water.

Atzi, Alan and I were discussing ideas – the concept of ‘in-between’ or liminal spaces and places. In the last post I described rituals that would have taken place at these wells hundreds of years ago, and the way that people perceived water in certain places as possessing a magical property between the everyday and the sacred, also the idea of rituals that create a space in time, and a safe place in which to heal.

I’m not quite there with the atmosphere or ideas I want to capture, but with a month and a half to go I’ll hopefully get there!

Edinburgh in the Snow (and a brief history of Edinburgh!)

Not for sale. Edinburgh Snow (High Street and Arthur’s Seat from Regent Road). Mixed media on 22×16 inch found wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

Today’s finished painting of Edinburgh in the snow. I’ll be submitting this for competition next month, wish it luck!

The view is from Regent Road looking across to Salisbury Crags on Arthur’s Seat. In the foreground you can see buildings of the Royal MIle obscured by snow.

I’ve deliberately kept it vague since that’s how it appears as you walk into a snow blizzard along Regent Road, which is underneath Calton Hill halfway down to the valley of the Royal Mile or High Street (my photo below from a few weeks ago) …

Walking along Regent Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also wanted to get across the ‘feel’ of the Old Town, with its medieval buildings and wood timbers, hence the exposed wood in the painting and roughened edges, blurring old and modern buildings. Some close-up details below showing texture …

 

 

 

Edinburgh has just been voted the most popular tourist destination in the UK, and living here can make us a bit blasé about the features that make the city so unique and appealing, but the recent snow seemed to bring everyone out of winter hibernation. Arthur’s Seat was thronging with folks enjoying the snow – kids on sledges, a plethora of snowpeople! I slid about in the snow with my pal Donald, and it was great to see and experience…

 

 

And although I felt thwarted in my plans to get to the Cairngorms this spring due to train cancellations, I ended up appreciating Edinburgh instead. It is truly beautiful in the snow, hence these recent paintings (I’m working on a couple more).

So for those of you who don’t know so much about Edinburgh, and in the spirit of internationalism (and let’s face it, without the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh would be a fairly boring place arts and people-wise, not-with-standing my dear Edinburgh family and friends!) I thought I’d include some brief words about Edinburgh’s history.

Briefly though, today I decided for the first time to check overall blog stats since 2013 and it turns out that visitors to this blog include folks from, in order of most views:

UK, US, Germany, France, Poland, Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Greece, Japan,  Brazil, Belgium, Russia, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Columbia, Portugal, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Singapore, Quatar,  Hong Kong, Austria, Norway, Mexico, Jordan, Serbia, Turkey, Romania, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Chile, Pakistan,  Hungary, UAE, Croatia, Slovenia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Thailand, ,  Philippines, Malaysia, Luxenburg, Argentina, Taiwan, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia, China, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Malta, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Moldova, Albania, Panama, Vietnam and loads more going into vistor numbers under 50.

So, thank you to folks taking interest in an obscure Scottish painter’s blog!

Anyway, here we go with a condensed Edinburgh history (illustrated with my own photos) …

A condensed Edinburgh history …

Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket

Edinburgh’s dramatic landscape was formed by volcanic activity that took place between around 358 and 298 million years ago.

The view from Edinburgh in my painting above sits between two of Edinburgh’s extinct volcanos – Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat. If my painting panned to the right you’d also see Edinburgh Castle on top of the volcanic plug that forms the base of the castle.

After volcanic activity ceased, the landscape was submerged under sea water. Sedimentary rock (formed by waves of sediment washed over the land by water over millions of years) then began to form the Salisbury Crags (the cliff seen in my painting and in photo to the right), which were gradually tilted up to their current dramatic angle as pressure eased after the ice age.

The ice-age sculpted Edinburgh’s landscape into the shape it retains to this day – for example the ‘spine’ that forms the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood House was formed by retreating glaciers dragging or depositing debris with them to create a trail behind each hill and mountain.

18th cent’ map. ‘Spine’ of the Royal Mile, castle on left, Holyrood Palace at the right, at the bottom of the hill. http://www.royal-mile.com/maps/royalmile18thc.

These rocky promontories must have had immediate appeal to early settlers as look-out spots;  almost all of the summits of Edinburgh’s volcanic hills reveal signs of early bronze age people.

Although I’ve been walking around Arthur’s Seat since I was a kid, the fact that I now live so close to it has inspired me to explore more, and I’m beginning to get an ‘eye’ (with the help of my archaeologist friend Sabine!) for Bronze-age remains (shapes or patterns in the land as opposed to actual buildings) not to mention spotting Edinburgh’s early sites of worship, healing or spiritual interest – such as wells; the traces of which can be found alongside later Christian religious buildings and sites (more on this in later blogs).

Edinburgh in twilight from Arthur’s Seat. The castle easily spotable on the horizon

If we’re thinking about a definitive beginning for Edinburgh though, it would clearly be the Castle Rock; easily defendable with its sheer basalt cliffs. It was called Dun Edin (‘dun’ means hill) and we know that there were settlers there from at least 850BC

As more people settled around the dun, or rock, the city would have grown in reputation as a stronghold or well-defended fort.

 

 

The castle itself (or the original building) was built from around the 12th century. To protect the growing city that began to grow along the ‘spine’ of the Royal Mile down to Holyrood Abbey, a wall (the Flodden Wall, remains of which can be seen today) was built around the city, and this was the catalyst for the distinct, tall buildings or tenements that lined the Royal Mile or High Street.

A charming, cleaned up ‘close’ in Edinburgh’s High street today

Builders built upwards, not outwards, because of the restricting wall. As centuries passed this created fairly unsavoury conditions (extremely unsavoury by today’s standards!). Packed into twelve storey tenements, Edinburgh’s effluent had nowhere to go and (readers from Edinburgh will groan with boredom at this point, having heard this story too many times) the oft-heard cry of gardez l’eau (pronounced GARRRDY LOO! with a strong Scottish accent!)  rang in the streets as residents chucked the contents of their chamber pots into the filthy cobbled streets below.

(Edinburgh had long-held connections with France, for many reasons, hence the familiarity with French language)

Old Edinburgh featured narrow closes between the closely packed buildings

Disease was rife, and no matter how posh you might be, you lived cheek-by-jowl with ordinary folks. On top of that, numerous open fires in such a small, over-inhabited space meant that the High Street was black with soot and smoke, hence Edinburgh’s nick-name of ‘auld reekie’ (old stinky).

This issue (for Edinburgh’s rich inhabitants anyway) was finally addressed when an architecture design competition was held in the mid 18th century and a young architect called James Craig won (I think he was in his early to mid-twenties at the time, I’m not fact-checking most of this but do correct me if I’m wrong!).

James Craig’s plan for the New Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new town splendour

The plan was to create an entirely new area outside the High Street/Royal Mile, across the valley (which now contains Princes Street Gardens and Waverley train station) to the north of the old town, hence why this area of Georgian architecture is called ‘the New Town’ to this day.

All the filth that had accumulated in the Nor Loch (the loch or lake below and to the north of the Castle Rock) was dredged, this, and the detritus from building the new town, was used to form a bridge south to north from old town to new town.

This was called the Mound, and atop of this now sits two of Edinburgh’s most elegant buildings; Edinburgh’s National Art Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts (Stock photo above right, looking west along Princes Street).

Only the richest inhabitants of Edinburgh could afford this new luxury accommodation, so people in Edinburgh’s Old Town still had to muddle along with their chamber pots, and up to the 1970’s, the High Street was seen as a bit seedy. Nowadays, it’s the most distinct part of historic Edinburgh and the most popular tourist destination. It retains an extraordinary level of historical features, not disimilar to cities such as York, which was similarly ‘neglected’, thankfully, for the sake of history at least.

This brings us pretty close to the present day, but the18a and 1900’s were truly, literally, headier times to say the least. Maybe it was imbibing all that volcanic spring water, but Scotland’s Enlightenment (much of which was born from, or whirred around the hub of Edinburgh)  is rightly perceived as impressive for a wee, chilly country in the north (read more Here)

As a born and bred Edinburgher, thinking about the sheer magnitude, depth and breadth of invention, creativity and brain power of Edinburgh’s Enlightenment days brings a tear to my eye!

Yet, as I wander around the slopes of Arthur’s Seat, the voices I wish I knew more about are those of Edinburgh’s less vocal past; ordinary folks who held sacred vigil at the wells of Arthur’s Seat, long before the hand of organised (politicised) religion silenced their voices and beliefs. We only know what their thoughts and beliefs may have been because of the numerous court cases at the time of the Protestant Reformation …

That will be the subject of my next painting series; the wells and springs of Arthur’s Seat. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but it’s a bit ambitious, I’ve been researching alot – there is much mystery to reveal (genuinely, I’ve discovered some interesting, possibly new information about those times) and so I have now postponed the exhibition and event to the 21st June.

St Anthony’s spring, Arthur’s Seat