Tag Archives: scottish landscape painters

Themes – Trees

Above: Spring Sycamore. Acrylic on 20×16″ canvas. Rose Strang 2013

As I’m currently painting a private commission which must remain secret until October 2021, I thought I’d post themed blogs in the meantime. Today’s theme is Trees.

My last theme was Sea. In the next few weeks I’ll also share my paintings on the themes of mountains, portraits, winter, abstraction, imagination and collaborations

It’s easy to imagine dryads or sidhe (faerie folk) hiding behinds trees in ancient forests. Many children’s stories or fantasies are set in the woods; think Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or Robin Hood! Trees seem to spark imagination – for good or ill (think of all those spooky tales or films set in forests!) I’ve wondered why this is – perhaps it’s the fact that in a forest so much is hidden – it’s a metaphor for the unconscious, for the unlawful and rebelious.

I find that painting trees requires loose brushwork (or loose line if it’s drawing) though in a different way from sea painting – not so much gestural as allowing the paint to drip and splash, leaving patches to imagination, with a strong sense of light/dark to bring depth so the viewer is led into the forest.

When painting forests of the Scottish Borders in 2014, I was inspired by the last line of a Borders Ballad called Erlinton, about a girl who escapes to the forests to be with her lover; now we shall walk the green-wood free. To me that line beautifully evokes the idea of Medieval tapestries and tales. So with that in mind, to enhance your viewing pleasure of the tree paintings below, here’s a music piece for lute by William Byrd – Will you Walk the Woods so Wild –  Byrd

Or if you prefer, here’s a beautiful performance of Dvorik’s Silent Woods from From the Bohemian Forest –  Silent Woods

I’ve headed each set below with these terms: Spring  Summer  Autumn  Winter

Spring

My favourite time of year – from the softening of air in March, to the explosion of flowers in April and May. I think it’s inspired my best tree paintings! Spring Sycamore, below, was bought by my dad in 2013. Probably because it was painted after a walk we took in spring near Queensferry. My dad passed away in 2016 and is remembered with great love by everyone who knew him. When we were kids he’d make tree swings in Queensferry forest with lassoe techniques on the highest branches of huge beech trees, so you could swing down an entire valley, terrifying at first, then exhiliarating! As he used to say, tongue in cheek (perhaps?) ‘if a kid isnae terrified it’s no a proper game’!

I was quite happy with the minimal paintings from the Water of Leith series below, I wanted to capture more with less (they’ve not sold though!) Spring Chinoiserie was a bit of a nod to Pollock, who expressed the energy of nature with rhythmic drips and splashes of household paint. Some works here – Pollock

Bare trees are all about lyrical line – I’m also thinking of beautiful tree drawings by the wonderful illustrator Pauline Baynes. Link to her drawings – Baynes

Summer

Emma and Friends (below) captures something of the idyllic feel of summer I hope. It’s of my niece and her friends after they’d completed their final school exams. They took a swim in the River Tweed and the green light of summer transformed them into luminous mythical nyads!  Most of these tree and forest paintings in 2014 were from a series inspired by Borders Ballads, as mentioned in my intro above. Technique-wise, I was more than a little inspired by a painting I love by Peter Doig  – scroll down on link to ‘Concrete Cabin’ – Doig

Autumn

Autumn can crackle with electric blue skies and neon oranges, or glow gently in a somnabulic way that makes me feel pleasantly gloomy and introspective. It signals hibernation to come, decay and the passing of time, with the smell of mulchy leaves and woodsmoke in the air, it’s almost clichedly poetic I suppose. Last year I’d planned a series inspired by October in a Highland mountain valley, but the focus for now is my current commission (to be revealed in October this year).

Gustav Klimt’s birches are unsurpassed I think – Klimt

Winter

Although spring is my favourite time of year, winter is endlessly inspiring creatively. The starkness and subtleties of tone make us focus on line and contrast. The monochrome work below; Canonhill Park – is the only time I’ve used a very definite technique as oppposed to experimental – the white blobs are impasto against a black ink flat background, I quite liked it it, but only for this one-off subject.

The paintings of Scottish artists Calum McClure and Andrew MacKenzie focus on line and nature, rather than colour. Winter trees feature in much of their work. McClure’s paintings are lyrical, loose and painterly, MacKenzie’s are more contained, with minimalist composition and delicate line – McClure

–   MacKenzie

Lastly, no post about trees would be complete without mention of Arthur Rackham. For anyone brought up with books featuring Rackham’s illustrations, ‘Rackham-esque’ is an unofficial term for magical-looking trees! Rackham

In the next blog the theme is mountains

Applecross series day 8

'Ardban Morning Sunlight'. Oil on 19 x 19" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban Morning Sunlight’. Oil on 19 x 19″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings for the new series for the Limetree Gallery Bristol.

There’s a definite feel to the series noiw – driving through the rainy dramatic mountains of Kintail then reaching the west coast light of the Applecross peninsula. I’m very happy with the Kintail series, though I know some people might find those a little dark, I just find that drenched sort of autumnal mountainscape relaxing.

I have three paintings to complete, then the series wil be finished. More tomorrow …

Below – all paintings so far …

 

'Traigh Bhan. Early Evening. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

Traigh Ban Series

'Traigh Bhan. Waves. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

‘Traigh Bhan. Waves. Iona’. Mixed media on 12×12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

'Traigh Bhan, Turquoise. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

‘Traigh Bhan. Turquoise Sea. Iona’. Mixed media on 12×12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

Above, the completed series of ‘Traigh Ban, Iona’. Traigh Ban is Scottish Gaelic for ‘white strand’ and is pronounced ‘try ban’. It’s the stretch of beach at the north-east end of the Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. (Set as featured image at the top is Traigh Ban, Early Evening. Iona.)

I’ve painted Iona many times in the past few years, most recently during a winter artist’s residency in 2018. It’s an island famed for its religious history and its particular beauty. That’s a somewhat anodyne sounding statement, so to be more expressive – when I’m there I often feel that the colours are too luminous to be real – everything looks like a ridiculously beautiful  painting – it feels in a way superfluous to paint it, until you realise photography doesn’t capture it.

When the Limetree Gallery asked me for paintings for their summer exhibition, Iona was my first choice. I can’t be there this year as planned due to lockdown, but you can be sure it’s the first place I’ll visit when it’s possible. I had planned an arts project there this year with my partner (an animator, watercolourist and musician) and Devo, a filmmaker from New York, so these paintings are a bit of therapy for me in the meantime! We’d hoped to respond to the island’s beauty, atmosphere and history in numerous ways, so I hope that will go ahead in the not too distant future.

They’ll be available from the Limetree Gallery soon, but if you’re interested in reserving one, you can contact them from their website on this link – Limetree Gallery.

The gallery (and its partner gallery in Long Melford Suffolk) is owned and run by Sue and Stephen – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with them over the years. We’ve had fun times and interesting conversations whenever there’s been a chance to meet in person, so as I’m currently enjoying an early evening gin and tonic I’ll raise a glass to Sue and Stephen –  long may your galleries continue to show and sell great work!

Three paintings

Photo: Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

This year I’ll be working on an arts and music project with Adam Brewster in response to three places: the isle of Iona, Aberlady and the isle of Lindisfarne. Other collaborators will also probably be involved as the project develops, such as Donald Ferguson and Atzi Muramatsu.

I’ve worked with Adam, Atzi and Donald on previous projects, all viewable on the ‘Collaborations’ tab in the menu above,so I’m very excited about this one!

The theme is loosely based around the fact that in the 7th century, the route from Iona to Lindisfarne via Aberlady was a pilgrim route. Our project will involve themes I’ve been exploring for many years – landscape, spirituality and history and not least the element of mystery since not much is known of those times!

Pilgrim map from website: eastlothianheritage.co.uk

Pilgrim map from website: eastlothianheritage.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam will be creating music for the project and I’ll also edit a video showing footage of the places interspersed with Adam’s music and the three paintings.

Other than that, I plan to paint a bit less frenetically this year and solely on request, for example if a gallery would like to put on a solo or small group show, or private commissions, which will give me time to develop paintings more slowly and to explore themes in more depth.

I’ll post updates as I go, in the meantime, here are some photos of our recent trip to Aberlady and paintings from Iona and Lindisfarne from previous years …

Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindisfarne, 2014

Iona, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

'Wolf'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2019 board

Winter Landscapes: Exhibition

'Giant Snowballs'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2019 board

‘Giant Snowballs’. Mixed media on 12×12 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2019. Unframed £290

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two paintings above will be on exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, from 22nd December to 30th January 2020.

This is part of the annual Open Exhibition organised by the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), who accepted me as a professional member in 2018. All details about tickets and venue Here

‘Giant Snowballs’ was inspired by snow sculptures on Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh and ‘Wolf’ was inspired by watching the Seven Worlds series narrated by David Attenborough – the wolves were viewed through heat sensitive cameras, adding to their mystical presence – they looked primeval and otherworldly. I made a quick sketch in paint on canvas while watching, then surrounded it in thick layers of white gesso.

The exhibition launches 22nd December, all details on link above.

 

Ardban Series completed!

‘Stormy Sky. Ardban’. Mixed media on 31×22″ paper. Rose Strang 2019

‘Sea Pools. Ardban’. Mixed media on 31×22″ paper. Rose Strang 2019

‘Morning. Ardban’. Mixed media on 31×22″ paper. Rose Strang 2019

The three paintings above complete the series for an upcoming exhibition at Limetree An Ealhain Gallery, in Fortwilliam, opening on the 18th October.

The full series can be viewed Here. If you’d like to reserve a painting, please contact the Limetree Gallery Fortwilliam at info@limetreefortwilliam.co.uk

I’ve been fighting off a cold as well as painting all week so I’m too puggled (old Scots word for tired) to write more today, but here are two more videos (by Adam Brewster, thanks Adam!) of painting on the beautiful beach of Ardban (one showing that it can be sunny, the other showing that sometimes you can dispense with brushes). Thanks again to Donald Ferguson for arranging this amazing holiday – I look forward to going back there again!

Idyllic

Adam and I painting on the beach. Photo by Euan Ferguson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt really lucky last week to be painting in a remote and beautiful part of the west coast with three lovely people – Donald (who organised staying at the cottage, thank you!) Adam and Euan.

Our cottage was 40 minutes walk from any roads, on the Applecross Peninsula, which has I think the most stunning views of the Cuillin in Scotland.

Also no TV, and internet connection only findable if you walked up a little hill outside the cottage. The cottage itself hasn’t been much changed since the 30s, and as you can see in photos below, the walls are festooned with art from visitors over the years (one of them was a painting I made there about ten years ago, which someone had kindly put in a clip frame!)

We all painted or took photos, so I’m treating readers of this post to a few of these, below.

I was busy painting for an upcoming exhibition in October for The Lime Tree An Ealdhain Gallery in Fortwilliam. (I’ll post more details on that soon, but in the meantime you can view the paintings in progress on this link – https://rosestrangartworks.com/gallery/ )

It was really special to spend time with folks in such a beautiful place – the lack of distractions from TV and internet made for some highly entertaining evenings, cooking, painting, listening to music, watching sheep in the garden, but mostly interesting (at times insanely ridiculous!) conversation.

Thank you Adam, Donald and Euan, for one of the loveliest holidays I’ve ever experienced!

(From left) Donald, Adam, me, Euan. Photo Adam Brewster.

Wild conditions! Photo Donald Ferguson.

Preparing paper in the sea. Photo Adam Brewster

Adam painting watercolours. Photo Rose Strang

Adam’s lovely watercolours. Rose Strang

Etching on found slate by Donald. Photo Rose Strang

Cottage. Rose Strang

Euan, Adam and Donald (playing guitar) outside the cottage. Rose Strang

Summer dress weather. Photo Adam Brewster

Cuillin across the sea. Rose Strang

Molto romantico sunset! Photo Adam Brewster

Idyllic! Photo by Donald Ferguson

 

 

Small Paintings

‘Isle of Iona’. (paintings are numbered 1 to 3 from left). Mixed media on 3.5×3 inches. Rose Strang 2019. (includes mini easel).

I’ll be painting more of these little artworks (in the photo above) over the coming months, which will be available for sale in art galleries in the landscapes painted.

If you’re interested in buying one of these, contact me at rose.strang@gmail.com and I’ll let you know where they’ll be available, or you can commission something similar if you prefer.

As they’re very small I think they’re a lovely way of acquiring one of my original paintings at a more affordable cost!

Iona Series

 

Jupiter

‘Jupiter. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s small painting of Jupiter at 10 by 10 inches, which is very similar to the large one of 40×40 inches. Here’s the larger one, painted earlier this year . .

‘Planets Series. Jupiter’. Mixed media on 40×40″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m creating Planets series paintings for two exhibitions this year – a smaller series of studies for a June exhibition at my studio in Abbey hill, in preparation for an exhibition and talk to take place in Autumn this year.

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

Info about June exhibition Here

(I’ll post more about the September exhibition and talk soon, once some more details are confirmed).

I now have just one of the small Planets Series paintings to finish, then they’re complete! I’m going to re-paint Mars, possibly Venus too, as I think they don’t quite capture the idea of Mars and Venus as yet.

This is the Jupiter excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s poem The Planets …

Soft breathes the air
Mild, and meadowy, as we mount further
Where rippled radiance rolls about us
Moved with music – measureless the waves’
Joy and jubilee. It is JOVE’s orbit,
Filled and festal, faster turning
With arc ampler. From the Isles of Tin
Tyrian traders, in trouble steering
Came with his cargoes; the Cornish treasure
That his ray ripens. Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted,
The myriad-minded, men like the gods,
Helps and heroes, helms of nations
Just and gentle, are Jove’s children,
Work his wonders. On his white forehead
Calm and kingly, no care darkens
Nor wrath wrinkles: but righteous power
And leisure and largess their loose splendours
Have wrapped around him – a rich mantle
Of ease and empire.

Beautiful. That line; Where rippled radiance rolls about us
Moved with music – measureless the waves’  is so redolent of the splendour of Jupiter as understood in Medieval imagination.

This part of the poem was also the first clue that t gave Michael Ward (author of Planet Narnia) the idea that the seven books of Narnia might correspond to the planets.

Jupiter relates to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first and most popular or most read of the Narnia Chronicles, which first introduces to the four children, the witch and Aslan. ‘Guilt forgiven’ refers to Edmund’s transformation in the story, from blind, selfish resentment and greed, to love for his family and fellow human beings. He experiences deep regret at the pain caused by his selfishness, but he’s forgiven, then Narnia’s one hundred-year winter ends – ‘winter passed’- after Aslan’s sacrifice and rebirth (the most obviously Christian reference of the entire series).

As Michael Ward explains in Planet Narnia, Jupiter was associated with Christ’s sacrifice and rebirth, also the idea of kingship and joviality (Jove). Incidentally I was delighted that Michael Ward chose my larger Jupiter painting as a facebook cover photo on Easter Sunday earlier this year!

Very soon I’ll be announcing details of an upcoming Planets Series event to taker place this Autumn, I can’t yet reveal details until everything’s confirmed but it’s definitely on! My little exhibition in June is a precursor to the event, and a great way of experimenting with ideas for the larger Autumn Planets Series.

Info on the June exhibition here – Planets Series Exhibition

A flurry of creativity …

'Sanna Bay, sand dune'. Mixed media on 14x11" wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

‘Sanna Bay, sand dune’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

Above, one of my paintings in progress (more below).

It’s been non-stop creativity since I got back from Ardnamurchan!

Here’s a holiday video I made, called Road Sketches, it was fun to get back into video-making with something informal, and I think it has a nice mood ..

The rest of the paintings in progress so far …

'Sanna Bay,afternoon'. Mixed media on 14x11" wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

‘Sanna Bay,afternoon’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

'Sanna Bay, dusk'. Mixed media on 14x11" wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

‘Sanna Bay, dusk’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

'Ardnamurchan, Sheep'. Mixed media on 14x11" wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019

‘Ardnamurchan, Sheep’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019