Tag Archives: Scottish landscape painting

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

 

 

Exhibition at the Resipole Gallery

‘Sanna Bay. Turquoise’. Mixed media on 20×16″ wood board. Rose Strang 2019

I’m excited to be exhibiting as part of a group show at the excellent Resipole Gallery this month.

The exhibition launches next week on Friday 17th May (there’s a private view from 6 to 8pm)

As the Resipole Gallery is in Ardnamurchan on the west coast of Scotland it’s a bit remote for some folks! So here is a link to their website page showing my paintings – https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/rose-strang

And this is their contact page if you have any sales queries – https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/contacts

I love the Ardnamurchan landscape so I’ll be traveling up there with some friends for the exhibition launch, also for more photos and sketches of the beautiful Castle Tioram which is featuring in my ‘Planets Series’. Here are a couple of photos from my last trip there ..

 

More Sanna Bay …

‘Sanna Bay. Turquoise’. Mixed media on 20×16″ wood board. Rose Strang 2019

‘Sanna Bay. Green Water’. Mixed media on 20×16″ wood board. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s paintings of Sanna Bay for the up-coming group exhibition at the Resipole Gallery.

The exhibition launches on the 17th May and I’m delighted to be showing alongside some talented Scottish artists including Kirsty Lorenz, Kirstie Cohen and Richard Bracken.

Link to Resipole Gallery – http://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/

Below – all paintings from the Ardnamurchan series for the Resipole Gallery. Please contact the gallery on the link above if you have any enquiries about the paintings

 

Ardnamurchan paintings in progress ..

‘Sanna Bay Sea’. Mixed media on 20×16″ wood board. Rose Strang 2019

‘Sanna Bay, Rocks, Waves’. Mixed media on 20×16″ wood board. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s paintings of Ardnamurchan – looking out west from Sanna Bay.

These are for the Resipole Gallery exhibition which opens 17th May this year.

Planet series – Jupiter (in progress) day 3

‘Jupiter’ (in progress).

Today’s progress on ‘Jupiter’. I wanted to create a luminous backdrop for the painting – the sea is a glaze of blues and gloss varnish, which you can see slightly better in this image ..

(This is the second in a series of seven paintings inspired by the seven planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia, which as the writer Michael Ward discovered, were themselves inspired by the seven planets. For more about the series, click on ‘Home’, above, and scroll through previous posts).

As mentioned in a previous post, I decided to paint Castle Tioram as the theme for ‘Jupiter’. Jupiter rules the months of February and March and I’ll be including trees, flora and fauna related to the planet as the painting progresses.

Fairy Tales ..

Castle Tioram, photo Rose Strang September 2018

 

 

 

 

 

I first visited Castle Tioram (pronounced ‘Cheerum’) in the Ardnamurchan Peninsula in 1992, and returned again for the first time since then in September last year. It was a beautiful, entrancing place back then, and still is. The Ardnamurchan Peninsula is one of Scotland’s most remote and un-spoiled areas of landscape. Ancient forests grow right down to the coast. Mosses, lichens and rare plants flourish in the relatively unpolluted atmosphere – the forest’s ecosystem is more or less untouched, save for a very few pathways and single track roads that weave through the area.

If you’re interested in forest ecosystems you’ll know that forest trees ‘talk’ to one-another in a sense. They communicate via their complex root system, so that younger trees, or weaker trees are fed nutrients by older trees – they’re interdependent. Before a tree dies, it sends nutrients to the roots of nearby trees. When the forest root-system is disturbed by, for example, motorways cutting one area off from another, the forest ecosystem is destroyed. An ancient forest is a sort of entity in a sense (or a community if you like!)

So Tolkien wasn’t far wrong, and C.S. Lewis (a close friend of Tolkien for decades) shared this reverence for nature – both author’s books featured the idea of conscious trees. Lewis’s stories featured dryads (tree spirits) able to ‘leave’ the physical tree and travel far distances to communicate important news. (in The Last Battle for example a dryad tells King Rillian that her tree, miles away, is being destroyed along with the rest of the forest).

In the east part of Ardnamurchan, further inland, is one of Europe’s rare original oak forests. It’s called Ariundle (derived from Scottish Gaelic Àiridh –  meaning a shieling or collection of small huts and Fhionndail – a fair meadow). So, ‘a collection of huts in the fair meadow’. Ariundle is a remnant of the ancient coastal oakwood that formerly stretched along the Atlantic coast from Spain and Portugal to Norway.

Ariundle Oak Forest in Ardnamurchan

 

 

 

 

In early medieval times Castle Tioram and Ardnamurchan were far busier places than nowadays. The highways of the ancient world across Scandinavia and the north of Scotland were sea-routes – quicker to navigate than land before modern times when roads were cut through mountains and forests.

The north and west of Scotland as a whole was teeming with activity. There were numerous wars of independence and during the Middle ages, Scottish castles were often burned and destroyed during war-times to prevent them being occupied by incoming armies (which is what happened to Castle Tioram).

Towards the end of the 18th century (post-Culloden) Highland clearances, then the industrial revolution almost entirely emptied some areas of the west coast. Anyone who hadn’t emigrated, or been forced to emigrate, to America and Canada moved to the cities and towns for work.

The one upside of this is that the landscape has been left untouched. Castle Tioram, situated on a rocky outcrop in a glass-like sea surrounded by wild forest, can have quite an impact on visitors to the place –  it does look almost other-worldy, or mythical.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia that makes people respond with emotion to the castle, a sentiment or belief that things were better in times past. Looking into early Scottish history though, there are as always two stories – one from ruling leaders, post war, and the story discovered in ancient Gaelic manuscripts. Tioram was never defeated in battle, for hundreds of years it was relatively peaceable (for those times at least, when feuds were common throughout Europe).

The castle and surrounding area was home to a large community ruled by the MacDonalds under the complex laws of the early clan system. This society enjoyed thriving art, literary and music traditions, and although the more democratic approach to running society appeared chaotic or ‘barbaric’ to outsiders, it now looks ahead of its time. Men and women inherited title and property, children of the ruling monarchs were often placed in the poorest households of the clan, while poorer children in the community were adopted temporarily by the ruling family. This encouraged connections, the learning of skills, and a balanced community.

It wasn’t all peaceable of course, there were the numerous complex feuds between clans, and the wars of independence which occurred between the 13th to 18th centuries. In 1715 the then chief of Clan Donald, Allan MacDonald, torched the castle before joining the battle at Sherriffmuir (1715 Jacobite rebellion – thanks for correction Murdo MacDonald!) He expected to lose, and didn’t want the castle to fall in to government hands. The final battle took place in 1745 at Culloden, and after this the Scottish clan system was destroyed (also due to the fact that many Scottish clan chiefs bought into the new feudal system as it offered unlimited opportunities for wealth and land) and Scotland never regained independence.

All of that explains some of the historical reasons why we respond to such places, but maybe our response to castle ruins in a wild remote landscape is also related to the power of fairy tale or archetypes – it ‘speaks’ to us of something important and valuable. In Ardnamurchan the air feels different because it is different – it’s clean, scented with salty brine, sun-warmed wood, mossy forest floors and the honey of heather throughout summer – it feels idyllic. Nowadays we understand the environmental fragility of such places.

In an earlier post I described C.S. Lewis’s fascination with Medieval mythology and cosmology – an era in which he believed imagination held an important philosophical role. From a different perspective Jung also explored this area – focusing on the importance of archetypes in the collective human psyche. Early Medieval thinking hadn’t yet lost that sense of universality, and connection to nature.

A castle on a remote island reminds us of a thousand different myths and fairy tales – tangled forests, ogres, battles, knights, magicians, princesses plotting escape, not to mention Camelot – a legend based on dreams of a lost golden age and the search for a mysterious holy grail. One conflict of the story is the battle of Pagan and Christian religions – neither of which comes out on top, interestingly. The myth goes (of course!) that both Merlin (Pagan) and Arthur (Christian) will return again.

It all reminds me of this sort of art …

From ‘Très Riches Heures’. 15th cent’  French illuminated manuscript

From ‘Très Riches Heures’. 15th cent’ French illuminated manuscript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Gothic or pre-renaissance style of painting is a continuation of Byzantine art. It made way for new ideas of realism in art – perspective and so on – leading to high renaissance art and ‘the age of reason’. Boticelli was sn artistic bridge between these styles and Northern renaissance art sometimes referred back to this earlier era stylistically.

All of this is ideal subject matter for my Jupiter painting, relating also to the Jupiterian book from the Narnia Chronicles The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe which centres on the idea of Winter passed, guilt forgiven – restoration of a golden age of peace in the sea-side castle of Cair Paravel after years of cold and brutality, but this comes after challenges, sacrifice and re-birth (the Christian element of the story – though there are many themes).

In this story, the dryads and trees of Narnia are still fully alive (in later books they have to be re-awakened) and since the oak is the tree most closely associated with Jupiter, that’s another reason to paint Ardnamurchan, one of the few places where you can enjoy fully living forests.

Here’s a link with more about Ariundle – https://www.wildlochaber.com/ardnamurchan/wildlife/ariundle-oakwood

Ariundle Forest . https://www.nnr.scot (Scotland’s National Nature Reserves, website)

Exhibitions and available paintings Jan’ 2019

Current round-up of current exhibitions and (as yet) unsold paintings  …

 

Limetree Gallery, Bristol. (Contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings available from the Limetree Gallery …

Winter Show. Resipole Gallery, 10th Nov’ to 22nd March. Ardnamurchan, Scotland. (Contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings at the Resipole …

 

Small Paintings. Morningside Gallery, Edinburgh.  (contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings at the Morningside Gallery …

Exhibitions and available paintings 2018

‘Cerulean Sea, Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018 £385

Here’s a round-up of my available paintings plus info on the galleries where you can find them…

Limetree Gallery – Website

*(gallery closes from 23rd to 29th Dec. Contact gallery on website link with any queries)

 

 

The Limetree (owned by Sue Dean and Stephen Edwards) specialises in contemporary Fine Art and Glass and holds regular exhibitions throughout the year. They have two galleries: one in the heart of Bristol city and the other in Long Melford, Suffolk.

They have a particular love of contemporary Scottish artists, and always have a varied selection of their art on show. Ranging from traditional to modern, figurative to abstract, each exhibition is complemented by a selection of individual glass pieces from Britain and Sweden.

Open from 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, or by appointment.

My artist’s pages on the Limetree website – Paintings

Works on show at the Limetree:

Resipole Gallery – Website

Resipole Studios is an award-winning fine art gallery with on-site artist studios, located on the West Coast of Scotland.

 

The Resipole hosts an exciting annual programme of exhibitions and workshops of Scottish contemporary art that is both emerging and established. The gallery was launched in 2004 by Andrew Sinclair after a two-year renovation of an agricultural byre.

Since its launch, Resipole Studios continues to present work by artists of many disciplines, with Scotland as their key focus. With many award-winning artists on its roster, the gallery is regarded as one of Scotland’s leading contemporary art spaces and, consequently, in 2016 was selected to show work by the late, American abstract-expressionist, Jon Schueler to mark the centenary of his birth.

My artist’s page on the Resipole website – Paintings

Works on show at the Resipole ..

Morningside Gallery – Website

The Morningside Gallery (owned by Eileadh Swan) specialises in contemporary art and works with emerging and established artists.

My paintings will be showing as part of their ‘Small Works’ show, which launches 9th January 2019. (Price information will be available then)

Works on show at the Morningside Gallery from January 9th ..