Tag Archives: turquoise sea

Themes – Sea

Above: Pisces Moon, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018.

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 Sea.

In the next few weeks I’ll also share my paintings on the themes of trees, mountains, portraits, winter, abstraction, imagination and collaborations

Our emotional and physiological response to the ocean means that it’s one of the most painted themes in fine art. Capturing a visceral sense of its translucence, movement, moods and light is challenging and there are limitless approaches. To enhance your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of music pieces that conjure moods of the sea! A beautiful song by Ishbel MacAskill:  An Ataireachd Ard  and a timeless sound from the Hebrides: Lewisian Psalm Singing

I’ve headed each set below with these terms: Movement, turbulence.   Light, sun.   Night, dark moods.   Colour, translucence.

Movement, turbulence

Painting movement is best achieved by making a mess I find! I try to keep the paint loose – as soon as I lose that freeness of brushstrokes it disappears. I’ve noticed that if anyone’s watching this process it looks stressful – just as it seems I’ve carefully captured a moving wave it’s time to mess that up and recreate it in looser strokes. This is one of the advantages of working in oils or acrylics, with watercolour you have to strategise more carefully. In the process of messing it up several times though, texture and interest is created.

One of the best compliments I ever recieved as an artist was when the curator of French fine art from Scotland’s National Gallery bought two of my paintings and compared them to Courbet, Encouraging praise indeed – Courbet was an Impressionist known for his wild waves. An example of Courbet’s waves on this link; Courbet

 

Light, sun

Every landscape artist is obsessed with the way light creates landscape. Capturing the essentials of light on sea is a constant challenge. Some artists simply make a precise copy from a photo, but that usually just creates a flatness and lack of energy and there seems not much point in recreating a photo, except for practice. The artists I most admire are those who can say everything about light with very little – something I still struggle with. One of my favourites in that regard is Alex Katz. His paintings appear simple until you realise how much he expresses with minimal marks. Alex Katz painting here – Katz

 

Night, dark moods

Probably the least commercial works are those that explore a more sombre mood. That doesn’t change my fascination with the subject though – it’s poetic and inspiring. We see landscape by light, so when there’s minimal light it has an emotional effect – we seek the light in the painting with a heightened focus. When painting in the introspective winter months, it’s instinctive to paint in a darker or more monochrome pallete. (subtleties of colour can be really difficult in the dark light of a Scottish winter). Tacita Dean, a hugely talented artist, captures an ominous mood in her chalk on blackboard works, yet there’s a romance to them that speaks of our long history of sea tales. Tacita Dean

 

Colour, translucence

Nothing expresses the unique quality of a particular sea more than colour and transclucency. The sea on Iona on Scotland’s west coast is transparent, impossibly turquoise and clear, whereas on the east coast it’s more opaque and grey-toned, even in bright sunlight. This is down to light (sun rise and sunset in east or west) pollution and geology – the sand on Iona is pinkish white, in North Berwick it’s warm brownish yellow. Go farther south to Cornwall and the sea is still magically green or turquoise but with less gem-like clarity because of a warmer-toned sun. Capturing clarity in paint is a case of clean contrasts and layers of colour. Also I find that a well-placed blob of seaweed in the shallows with just a hint of sunlit white froth on top can work well! Basically though it’s a challenge, and again I wish I could say more with less.  Hockney’s paintings come to mind, view more here Hockney

Joan Eardley’s paintings of the sea have beautiful subtlety of colour and texture, to my mind, unmatched. One of her paintings on this link Eardley

Lastly, the Scottish Colourists are the yardstick by which artists are measured in terms of understanding sea and colour! Colourists

In a few days I’ll share images and links to artworks on the theme of trees.

 

'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!

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

New paintings for the Limetree Gallery

'Sanna Sundown'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

In progress. ‘Sanna Sundown’ and at  top – Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona

Today’s paintings in progress for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona is complete. Sanna Sundown needs a bit more work. ‘Traigh Bhan Nam Monach’ means ‘white strand of the monks’.

How much would I like to be on that beach on Iona right now! I’d planned an arts project with my partner and a filmmaker from New York which would have been happening this month. (Sigh). Painting that crystal-clear turquoise sea was therapy anyway!

I went very loose and ‘painterly’ with these as I think that will work well for the Limetree Gallery. The brushwork is very spontaneous with just a few areas of detailed focus – it makes the eye work more and Limetree art buyers seem to enjoy this painterly approach that lets the viewer see more of the artist’s hand in the brushwork.

Needless to say, I enjoyed painting them and I’m happy with Iona, once I had that little sun-lit ripple at the bottom I was pretty much finished. I like the freshness of these and look forward to completing Sanna and another painting, tomorrow.

'North Berwick, Summer'. Mixed media on 18x18" wood panel. Rose Strang 2020. (NFS, Private Commission).

Finished Commission – North Berwick

Above: North Berwick, Summer. Mixed media on 18×18″ wood. Rose Strang 2020 (NFS, private commission).

I finally completed this private commission today and it will be winging its way to a new home soon!

The painting shows part of the headland past the town of North Berwick on the east coast of Scotland on a summer’s day in August.

This is one of my (and my family’s) favourite places to be. Though it’s just about thirty miles from Edinburgh, it always feels quite ‘away from it all’, the rocks are beautiful and as a kid it was heaven to play here, as an adult too!

The person who commissioned me works in a hospital, so I hope this painting is uplifting during a stressful time for folks in the NHS. Having said that, I hear that the non-Covid wards are not busy since everyone’s too scared to go into hospital for fear of either catching Covid or placing more strain on the NHS.

Below – a few photos showing some of the development of the painting. The challenge was capturing that lovely curve where sea meets land, also the dry August grass. The sea was not so much of a challenge once I’d toned down the rather too bright turquoise. You’d see bright turquoise on the west coast of Scotland but not the east coast!

The final touch was a lot of gesso splashed – it gives a sense of atmosphere and messing up a postcard-like view makes it more real – the way the eye sees in real life with peripheral vision and sun in our eyes, changing weather and so on.

It was both a challenge and a delight to paint, a big thank you to the person who commissioned this for giving me a really nice project during lockdown!

 

Sanna Bay – Paintings and Video

Paintings on exhibition at the Resipole Gallery in Ardnamurchan

I mentioned a while ago that my friend, musician Donald Ferguson, might compose a piece for guitar to accompany my recent paintings of Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan, and here it is! (links to paintings below video) …

The atmosphere and mood Donald creates here is entrancing – from the impetus of traveling through beautiful scenery from Glencoe to the Ardnamurchan peninsula, to the peace of arriving at Sanna Bay on the farthest west coast of Scotland.

Here are the links to the two galleries exhibiting these new works – you can contact them there with any queries …

Resipole Gallery: https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/rose-strang

Morningside Gallery – http://www.morningsidegallery.co.uk/4_artists/strang/index.htm