Tag Archives: waves

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.

 

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

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 20

Eigg Series No. 20. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 20. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

detailA peaceful wave in the rain on Singing Sands Bay. The rain was very light so there was a lovely soft glow over everything. I usually use gesso for a semi opaque rainy haze.

So far I’ve painted scenes of Eigg but as yet no details of the flora and fauna of the island, so at sometime in the next week or so I’ll introduce you to my good friend, and traveling companion to Eigg, Donald Ferguson, who took some beautiful photographs of stones, rocks and sand.

Donald also adopted a rock from the Singing Sands Bay which is now attached to a steel cable and swings gently above a large window in his house. I’m sure he can be persuaded to post a video of it, with the view of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat in the background!

In the meantime here’s an incidental in front of the cliffs of Cleadale, left behind by a glacier millions of years ago..

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50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No. 3

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

P1100231

Sometimes life seems to move too fast. It’s difficult to be present and I feel inadequate; too distracted and impulsive to be in the moment the way I want to be. It brings the character of Ricky Fitts to mind (or writer, Alan Ball) in the film ‘American Beauty’:

‘It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.’

Sanskrit philosophers wrote about presence thousands of years ago, but I like the immediacy of Alan Ball’s take on it – a plastic bag in the wind, which brings us into the here and now, and our anxiety producing world of rapid change and competition.

Below is a short video I took of waves from the Mallaig-Eigg ferry, accompanied by music from my friend Atzi Muramatsu, who moved from Japan to the UK some years ago. When I first heard this piece I was reminded of the rhythm of boats, waves, and the anticipation of journeys.

 

More music by Atzi here https://soundcloud.com/atzi-1

Website: http://www.atzi.co.uk/

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No. 1

 

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

wave detail

wave detail

 

Welcome to the first of 50 paintings. (I’ll be posting a painting every day until the 29th of May)

Today’s painting is a view of the mountains of Rum from the shore at Laig Bay

Last week’s heavy weather extended all the way North and most of Eigg and the mountains of Rum were obscured in mist. Then in the evening when we arrived at Cuagach Bothy in Laig Bay, Askival, Hallival, Ainshval and Sgurr Nan Gillian emerged high up in the cloudy sky. (I love those epic-sounding names). It comes as something of a shock to me when mountains emerge from the mist, appearing higher up in the sky than expected after dwelling in the lowlands of Edinburgh!

I walked down to the vast stretch of Laig Bay’s silver-sanded beach and watched wave after wave approaching, the bay is so long that they appear to move in slow motion, each wave appearing sculpted, like bottle green glass.

This being the first in a series of 50 it’s a little tentatively painted, so I’m glad I have 50 paintings ahead of me, and two years to paint and tell the story of an island whose inhabitants work together to care for for the beauty of their environment. I won’t just be sharing a painting each day, I’ll introduce island dwellers, artists, musicians, writers, the island’s culture, history, geology, environment, and the story from past to present.

Here’s Cuagach bothy, basic but nonetheless idyllic!

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Eigg, with red dot showing Laig Bay

Eigg