Above; Forest of Ardban. Oil on 20 x 10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.
This painting, finished today, is for a private client, it was a delight to paint and I’m still really enjoying the process of oil paints – they seem to do half my work for me in the way they serindipitously merge and meandre on the wood!
These forests, near Applecross in the west coast of Scotland, are beautifully wild and untouched. I wanted to get across that feel almost of northern rain forest – lush and primordial, Venusian, magical and fecund! I’m happy to say I’m heading up there (travel restrictions willing) later this year, where I’ll be painting a new series for the excellent Limetree Gallery in Bristol.
The exhibition will be a three-artist show and I’ll post more about that soon. It’s an absolute delight to be exhibiting again, especially with a gallery that I’ve really enjoyed working with over the years. You can view their website here – Limetree Gallery, Bristol
Today’s attempt to paint trees of Ariundle forest in Ardnamurchan …
It’s tricky to get the luminous colour, damp atmosphere and odd mossy shapes without straying into a sort of Hobbit-shire territory – all too easy to make it look picturesque without getting the feel of being there. The particularly lurid one started as a paint palette – there was a nice build up of impasto paint, so I played around with that.
Being in Ariundle forest felt extremely lush and alive – the sense of a complicated ancient eco-system – Ariundle is the remnant of ancient oak wood that once stretched all the way along the Atlantic coast.
Last week I went along to Highland River, an exhibition featuring the work of journalist and presenter Andrew Marr. It was curated by Richard Demarco (co-curated by Fernanda Zei) at Summerhall in Edinburgh and included a really enjoyable conversation between Richard and Andrew Marr. They talked about the art of failing while painting. Judging by the empathic laughs from the audience there were plenty of artists there!
As Marr described – you make a mark and realise it’s a mistake, so you remedy that and keep making marks until it feels right (‘then you ruin it’, I muttered to myself) ‘Then you ruin it’ Marr echoed.
I bought his book on painting, much of which I agreed with (his views on Auerbach, Kurt Schwitters and others) some aspects not – for example his take on Beuys, it’s all subjective of course – but I thought Beuys had an incredible talent with deceptively simple, expressive line and colour. It’s a challenging book in some ways since he’s engaged with working with paint to explore complex ideas. Though not a conceptual artist, his approach is intellectual. Occasionally I attempt a deeper or more conceptual approach to painting and the results are often a complete mess. It is less challenging to simply attempt to capture the texture of tree bark in simple paint strokes or lines, but I find that valid in my world. Every so often something clicks into place and stronger ideas emerge.
Enough waffle though, this week I’ll write more on the Medieval planets theme – early spring; represented by Mars.
Highland River continues until 27th April – info here Highland River
Today’s work on Ariundle Wood in Sunart on the west coast of Scotland. Once it’s dry I’ll be adding some foreground detail – spring twiglets and leaf buds.
All four of the first paintings (below) of Ardnamurchan are now in the Morningside Gallery, Edinburgh.
‘Sanna Bay, dusk’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019
‘Ardnamurchan, Sheep’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019
‘Sanna Bay,afternoon’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019
‘Sanna Bay, sand dune’. Mixed media on 14×11″ wood panel. Rose Strang, 2019
Also my new series of Ardnamurchan and Sunart will be part of an up-coming three-person exhibition at the Resipole Gallery on the west coast of Scotland, which is run by artist Andrew Sinclair (who converted a former agricultural byre into the gallery over two years).
I took some photos when I was there in September last year ..
And this year in March – some really nice work in the main gallery by Jane Rushton Breathing Spaces ..
I’ll post exact details of the exhibition soon, and send a link to the paintings once they’re added to the Resipole’s website. In the meantime, you can have a browse on this link – Resipole
The gallery shows the work of some of Scotland’s most talented artists featured in the recent spring publication of the excellent Art North – a new arts magazine focusing on Scottish contemporary arts. Link here – Art North
Today’s painting, Birch trees on a larger canvas of 40×30 inches.
I went a bit Jackson Pollock with some household undercoat paint, which was fun. I wanted to capture an early spring sort of light, more delicate and gentle.
Lots of admin’ to do for the exhibition so I don’t have much time to elaborate! I hope you’re all enjoying the summer weather.
Studio photo, people have said they like these so I’ll post one each day..