Tag Archives: seascapes

Coast

Above, Sanna Bay 2. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 47×47 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022. One of four works still available at The Resipole Gallery (please contact the gallery for queries).

Thank you to the buyers who bought the following paintings, I hope they bring pleasure for many years to come! This has absolutely been one of my favourite series to paint, created while I was up north in Ardnamurchan with my partner Adam in May this year, it was such a beautiful time…

The following paintings are still available from the Resipole, please contact the gallery with any queries. Thank you – Resipole Gallery

And for those who might not have seen it yet, our arrangement of a beautiful song first created by songwriter Donald McColl (from Acharacle, Ardnamurchan) in the 1970s. The video features wonderful footage of Ardamurchan from our trip there this year, and some paintings in progress.

Summer Exhibition Limetree

Above: Sanna Bay, May. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 19.5 by 19.5 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022. Below Primroses. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 19.5×19.5″ canvas. Rose Strang 2022

min 'Primroses, Ardnamurchan'. Oil on 19.5x19.5 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022

These two paintings are for the upcoming Summer Exhibition at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, which launches on the 15th July and continues until August 31st.

They take inspiration from my recent trip to Ardnamurchan where I created a series of works for Coast – a two-artist exhibition at the Resipole Gallery in Ardnamurchan (link Here)

It’s interesting that these two new paintings look more distilled and dreamlike than the rest of the series, which must be to do with them being created later, not immediately following my trip there. The one subject I hadn’t painted was the beautiful primroses that decorate the banks of the Silver Walk near Castle Tioram. I love the way they emerge from dark crevices in May, looking so delicate and fresh – beautiful wild flowers that grow abundantly on the west coast.

Donald McColl sang about the landscape of Ardnamurchan (and primroses!) in his beautiful song ‘Nach Falbh thu air and Turas Leam?’, and here’s our arrangement of the song again, featuring footage of Ardnamurchan and some of the painting process …

(Exhibition of the two paintings above from 15th July to 31st August at the Limetree Gallery Bristol.)

Connections

Above, chatting to people at the opening of ‘Coast’, at The Resipole Gallery a few days ago. The exhibition features paintings by myself, painter Jim Wright and ceramics artist Helen Michie, until 22nd July.

This has a been a very special year for many reasons – I’ve loved painting this series of Ardnamurchan for the Resipole and felt fully immersed in the season of May and June there, exploring the Silver Walk near Castle Tioram and the stunning coast at Sanna Bay.

As mentioned in a previous post, I created a video featuring our new arrangement of a song about Ardnamurchan, originally written by songwriter Donald McColl, so I was delighted when the project featured in an artcle in the National, here it is! –

https://www.thenational.scot/news/20203905.landscape-artist-rose-strang-unearths-rare-scottish-gaelic-gem/

The exhibition launch on Sunday 12th was a pleasure to attend. It’s a four-hour drive to Ardnamurchan but worth every minute for what turned out to be a very enjoyable meeting with the other artists, Jim Wright and Helen Michie, as well as gallery owner Andrew Sinclair and gallery manager Kerrie Robinson.

They did a fantastic job of presenting the exhibition, I think the colours, themes and mood of the works compliment each other beautifully …

It was lovely to hear the music of the McColl family (from a CD collection of pieces) played alongside our recent song arrangement, but especially enjoyable to hear live music from fellow exhibitor Jim Wright, who not only paints beautifully but also sings folk songs and plays guitar, all adding to the convivial atmosphere!

 

 

The best thing about this year though, is this! …

Adam and I got engaged! It’s a very special ring; the stone is taken from a rock I found on the Isle of Iona about thirty years ago. It’s from a rare seam of white marble streaked with green serpentine that’s found on the south coast of the island – the same stone was used for the alter of Iona Abbey.

Adam asked if he could take a small piece from my rock to use for the ring, which he’d designed and had cast in white gold. He polished up the rough cast ring, sawed the tiny piece off the rock, then buffed it down to fit, before sealing the stone in the encricling metal and giving the stone a final burnish.

To say I’m happy is an understatement. I think all those summery whites and greens in my Ardnamurchan paintings are saying something about the way I feel about it all … from the heart and soul.

From Iona to Staffa

Above Iona to Staffa 3. Oil on 12 x 12 inch wood.

This series is inspired by a trip to the islands of Iona and Staffa last year. Although I’ve been visiting Iona since about 1991, I’d never been to Staffa – surely one of the wonders of the world with its astonishing hexagonal basaltic columns and sea caves surging with green water.

At first I wanted to capture something of the feel of the journey, which was in fact quite wild – in a small boat on a tumultuous sea in dazzling sunshine – we even saw dolphins! It was the underlying sense of myth that stayed with me though.

Iona’s spiritual history is well-known – St Columba, an Irish prince said to be exiled because of a violent dispute, travelled to Iona and began a life of spiritual contemplation with a group of monks back in the 6th century. His journeys around Scotland are remembered in history, also in tales of miracles. He was no doubt a complicated human being who’d lived a violent life in Ireland, who changed during his time on Iona – devoting his life to religion.

The island itself was said to have a druidic past. This is part speculation as those times weren’t recorded in written language in the same way as  Christian history was. Place names around the island do suggest this pre-Christian history though. It’s suggested that the Book of Kells was written by monks on Iona some time in the 9th century, but the book is now at Trinity College Dublin. Some believe the book was created in Kells, Ireland, but if you consider the fact that part of north-east Ireland and the west coast of Scotland were essentially one nation at the time, called Dalriada or Dál Riata, then it could make sense that the book might be written in the peace of Iona and taken to Kells when Iona was later attacked by Vikings.

Monks were drawn to such places at this time in the past, in the spirit of the ‘Desert Fathers and Mothers’ – a tradition inspired by Jesus’s contemplation in the desert. Basically, anywhere remote and removed from society was seen as ‘desert’ – a place to contemplate God.

Staffa, which is about 7 miles from Iona, has a mythical history stretching far back into the mists of time! It’s other name is Fingal’s Cave – inspired the myth of Fingal (Fin means light and forms part of the name of the port on Mull from where you travel to Iona – Fionphort) from ancient celtic stories. This can be a confusing subject because there was in fact a series of poems called ‘Ossian’s Tale’, created by author James MacPherson, about Fingal, but this series of poems was discovered to be ‘fake’ – not the work of a real person called Fingal from the ancient Celtic past. The stories were gathered from ancient Celtic poems though, and so it is a fascinating work.

I won’t get too detailed here about the confusion of myth, and translations from original Scottish Gaelic myths and stories by McPherson – Ossian’s Tale does mention numerous place names that still exist, and which made up Dalriada in Scotland and north-east Ireland in the third century. The myths probably refer to an ancient warrior, said to be a giant, who created Staffa as a stepping stone from Ireland to Scotland. This refers to ‘The Giant’s Causeway’ on the coast of northern Ireland which shares the same hexagonal basaltic stone features as Staffa.

Well, that’s a lot of info, which may give an idea of why I wanted to capture a sense of myth from my trip to Staffa from Iona! It doesn’t really explain the way I feel about such an experience though. Suffice to say, it stimulates my imagination and despite the numerous tourists that throng the islands these days, I still feel the spiritual pull of these places.

I used to visualise lying in a wooden boat in the crystal clear green water of the Sound of Iona, rocking gently on the waves in the sun. Where Iona feels gentle, Staffa feels almost overwhelmingly dramatic –  you feel you’ve taken part in a real life myth when you travel there.

I’ll end this post with some of my photos of Staffa …

Iona Paintings

Above, Misty Evening, North End Iona. Oil on 6×6″ wood. Rose Strang 2021.

The painting above (and two paintings below) were painted after a trip to Iona last month in mild weather. The feel is very different from the last time I was on the island in winter 2018 when the skies and sea were stormy and dramatic. This time Iona was green, tranquil and contemplative with calm weather.

These are the small start to a larger series I’ll be painting starting from next week, in response to the landscapes of Kilmartin and Iona. More on that soon.

In the meantime, contact me if you’re interested in these small paintings, at rose.strang@gmail.com

 

Applecross Series day 6

'Through Kintail'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Through Kintail’. Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Ardban. Sea Shimmer'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban. Sea Shimmer’. Oil on 14×11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

'Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings in progress. More changes to Ardban Green Waves and Through Kintail. The new painitng – Ardban Sea Shimmer needs to dry a bit before I mist it up a bit more and work on the mountains.

Tomorrow I’ll start the large Through Kintail!

'Through Kintail'. Oil on 14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Applecross Series day 5

'Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Ardban,. Green Waves. Oil on14x11″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Today’s paintings – ‘Through Kintail’ and ‘Ardban. Green Waves’.

Ardban Green Waves is updated from last week as it needed warmer greens. ‘Kintail’ is a new subject and this photo of the painting isn’t capturing all the lovely textures as it’s not yet dry. I’m happy with it though and plan to paint this subject on a large scale.

The entire series is not just about Ardban in Applecross but the journey there through the atmospheric and dramatic mountains of Kintail then the Bealach na Ba. It’s quicker to take the bigger motorway but why do that when your journey is full of such beauty?!

The Gaelic title for Kintail is Cinn Tàile which means ‘head of the inlet’. In Highland clan times it was Mackenzie land and there’s a saying that goes something like ‘as long as there’s moorland in Kintail there will be herds’. Later on the way to Applecross you drive through the even more dramatic Bealach na Ba – pass of the cows –  these ordinary descriptions don’t do justice to the landscape!

In ‘Kintail’ I wanted to capture the mystery of the Highlands, drenched, as they so often are, in mist and rain. Not a unique subject, but it’s the little details such as an ordinary green metal roof amidst these rich russets of bracken and the silver-grey watery clouds merging with dark mountains that make this impossible for an artist to resist!

Oils are perfect for the subject, like watercolours they merge and run into each other, creating serendipitous effects, but richer and deeper in tone. Most of the painting is abstract colours, with just the green roof to give definition, scale and composition.

While painting I’ve been listening to the excellent Rachel Walker. She sings in Gaelic but mercifully un-festooned by fey or whimsy! She used to upload a song each week and I particularly like this one (it suited the sweet/sombre mood of the painting)  Bràigh Uige / The Braes of Uig – a song about grief, loss and the bittersweet unchanging beauty of the land. (You’ll be weeping by the end of it, sorry!) Lyrics translation below vid (courtesy of Rachel Walker’s website)

Tha na féidh am Bràigh Uige The deer are in Brae Uige
Bràigh Uige, Bràigh Uige In Brae Uige, in Brae Uige
Tha na féidh am Bràigh Uige The deer are in Brae Uige
‘S e mo dhiùbhail mar thachair My loss is what happened
Tha mo shealgair gun éirigh My hunter will not rise
Gun éirigh, gun éirigh Will not rise, will not rise
Tha mo shealgair gun éirigh My hunter will not rise
‘S tha na féidh air na leacainn And the deer are on the slopes
Tha mo shealgair ‘na shìneadh My hunter is lying stretched
‘Na shìneadh, ‘na shìneadh Lying prostate, lying stretched
Tha mo shealgair ‘na shìneadh My hunter is lying stretched
Anns an fhrìth gun tighinn dhachaidh In the deer-forest, and has not come home
Tha mo crodh air na lóintean My cows are on the brook-meadows
Na lóintean, na lóintean The brook-meadows, the brook-meadows
Tha mo crodh air na lóintean My cows are on the brook-meadows
‘S na laoigh òga mu’n casan And their young calves at their feet
Iad gun togail ri aonaich They have not been driven up the hillside
Ri aonaich, ri aonaich Up the hillside, up the hillside
Iad gun togail ri aonaich They have not been driven up the hillside
Fireach fraoich agus glacan Heathery mountain or the hollows
Gura fuar lag na h-àiridh Cold is the Hollow of the Sheiling
Na h-àiridh, na h-àiridh The Sheiling, the Sheiling
Gura fuar lag na h-àiridh Cold is the Hollow of the Sheiling
‘S tha mo ghràdh fo na leacaibh And my love lies under the flag-stones
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò Hillinn o ‘s na hill iù ò
(In progress). Ardban Waves, Evening. Mixed media on 17x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Psalms and the Sea

Above  – paintings in progress for the upcoming exhibition at the Limetree gallery, Bristol. 31st October.

This is a new series for the Limtetree, which I started while on holiday last week in the Applecross Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland.

Thanks to the ever-changing west coast weather, the sea changes its mood constantly, but I’ve never seen a white rainbow before! (see photo below). The cottage we stayed in is a forty minute walk from the road, so you have to take all your food, equipment and bedding on your back. It’s part of the charm of staying here, but we prepared ourselves for our arrival by taking more walks up Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat for a few weeks beforehand – it definitely enhances the experience to be fit enough to explore a bit.

 

Applecross is reached by driving up the Bealach na Ba (the pass of the cows) which is always a pretty dramatic experience visually, more than that though, the journey up this single track road with few passing places seems to inspire the entire spectrum of human behaviour – it’s quite entertaining!

 

You can see traces, in the remains of cottages everywhere, attesting to the fact that these coasts were home to larger communities in the past, many of whom would have struggled in the years after the Highland Clearances. That history has been written about extensively so I won’t go into it here, except to say that it played into my response to the landscape to an extent, and will come in to the mood of my paintings. I sense that though these communities struggled, they loved the landscape and its many moods and it was part of their faith.

Applecross is an area of ancient Christian pilgrimage from the 7th century and traces of that past include a classic 7th century stone Celtic cross –  now housed in Edinburgh’s Museum of Scotland

My friend Donald (who organised the holiday as he’s been visiting the area for many years) played some Lewisian/Hebridean Psalm singing while we were in the cottage; it speaks of a tight-knit religious community, but also (to my imagination anyway) it evokes the ebb and flow of the changing sea. Here’s a video clip …

 

I’ll be adding to the paintings series here over the next few weeks, so if you like the look of any of the paintings and would like to reserve one before the exhibition, please contact the Limetree Gallery on this link – https://www.limetreegallery.com/contact/

Lastly, some more photos from our stay. Thanks again to Donald, Adam and Catherine for a lovely and hugely inspiring week!

 

 

Boats

'Boats in Lindisfarne Harbour, Early Evening'. Oil on 19x10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Boats in Lindisfarne Harbour, Early Evening’. Oil on 19×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

'Oil Tanker Near North Berwick'. Oil on 19x11 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

‘Oil Tanker Near North Berwick’. Oil on 19×11 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020

Above, yesterday’s paintings of boats. I thought I’d send them in for the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual award.

I’d ran out out of non toxic solvent and used turps – horrible stuff, I felt quite sick and am still recovering, hence the short post!

'Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36x36" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (private commission)

Sunrise, Ruby Bay.

Above: Sunrise, Ruby Bay. Fife. Acrylic and oil on 36×36″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.

Below, some details from the painting …

 

This latest private painting commission is of Ruby Bay in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It’s so-called because if you sift through the small pebbles in the bay you can find tiny little garnets, not rubies as such but very like them!

Ruby Bay is on the Fife coastal path, near Elie Bay. It’s a beautiful stretch of coast-  the most famous beach on that stretch being St Andrews (of Chariots of Fire fame). The tower, built in 1779, is called Lady’s Tower as it was used by Lady Janet Anstruther (Janet Fall) as a bathing tower – a rich person’s beach hut if you like!

I wanted to capture the classic cool tones of an east coast sunrise – clear, cool and only slightly hazy. Looking at this painting in real life (it’s bigger than it seems form the photo at thirty six by thirty six inches) you sense movement from a calm tide about to recede from its high point. The lilac tones of pre-dawn are just about disappearing, replaced by clear turquoise. Lemon-yellow sunlight is just kissing the tips of the rocks, tower and grass.

The painting took about six days. It was started with gesso to lay down composition and background texture, then acrylics to get contrasts, the acid tones of lichen and the built up layers of rough-textured rock. Lastly I used oils for the sea and sky, and the cool light blue in the shadows.

It’s been a pleasure to paint  – complicated and with varying textures, but I think I’ve captured the calm and the pure light of sunrise in the east. I’m quite keen now to have another go on smaller wood panel to create a more abstract version.

The photos below show most stages of the painting …