I am excited to announce my first solo exhibition in Oban. My Host, Hope Kitchen is a charitable organisation, providing food, shelter and companionship to vulnerable and marginalised people in Oban. They kindly offered this brilliant space. How could I refuse? (They also make the best soup and there are cupcakes!) Parsley hosts a cat cafe there on a Friday afternoon so he popped in to help me set up before his guests arrived.
Anyway, I digress, the exhibition… I am showing a collection of painted and mixed-media mirrors using Glass, pewter & copper, a few mixed-media framed paintings and a collection of prints & cards. The preview was lovely, I don`t know many people in my new town. I have been a hermit for a while so I was a bit on edge about meeting a lot of new faces at once. I need not have worried. My capable hostess Catriona made it a very relaxed event. I met lots of new people, had a catch up with friends who attended and had good sales. The exhibition will run until at least September so there`s plenty of time to drop inif you are in town. I have been catching up on commissioned work since then and it`s all about cats!
Parsleys` human parents asked me to do this.
This one of Toby & Iris is on it`s way to Lexington, Virginia!
What to buy for the man in your life who loves his Siberian cat and Doctor Who? Czesar & T.A.R.D.I.S obviously 🙂
I have been busy exploring the area around Oban and now have a collection of new Illustrations of some of my favourite places. I`m still working on a few more of the Isles of Kerrera and Lismore, and have plans to expand on my sketches from Mull. Here it is so far.
All original artworks in this post are Ink, or Ink & Dry watercolour pencil, on Fulmar Ultra White Pinseal card which has a lovely texture. Prints are also available, printed on the same card stock to ensure they are as close to the originals as possible. You can see a close-up sample in the final image at the bottom of this post.
I have to start with this illustration, inside McCaig`s Tower in winter. Ink & dry watercolour pencil. The Tower is the first thing most people see when they arrive in Oban and it is well worth the climb up the hill. The tower itself is lovely, with lawns, seating and garden. The view from the platform is really beautiful. Seeing the sunset from here is a must!
If you have made the effort to get to the tower, why not go for a walk around the Hydropathic ruins just up the road? This illustration shows the only turret left standing, though there are lots of other bits of ruination on this huge site. Nice woodland, majestic ruins and a beautiful viewpoint looking over all of Oban and out over the Isles of Kerrera, Lismore & Mull. Mind the drop!!! You can find more photos in my earlier post – Winters end & Ruins – Oban Hills Hydropathic Sanatorium.
Just down on the waterfront sits St Columba`s cathedral. It is an imposing building in the neo-gothic style and is the
mother church of the diocese of Argyll & the Isles. My original sketches were done while listening to the peal of the bells ringing over the bay, the seabirds answering and the waves lapping the shore.
This Ink & pencil illustration is the of the view from the old carriageway to Dunollie Castle gardens and the 1745 house. The house is also a museum to the MacDougall family. I love this place and they have cake! The view from the castle is great, Looking over the sea to Kerrera and watching the ferries and sailing boats go by.
This Illustration is titled “Sunshine on the pride of Ardchattan”
The priory at Ardchattan is around 10 miles from Oban. It has so much history, I don`t know where to start, so just go see it and enjoy the gardens. My friend John won the Wellie throwing contest on their last gala day. 🙂
Over the sea to the Isle of Lismore now for the last three illustrations. I am besotted with Lismore. I want to have a croft there. When I visit, I sit in my spot, imagining all the things I could do.
My number 1 thoughtful spot is here at port Sailien, Limekilns Cottages. A derelict row of workers cottages. This ink illustration grew from a sketch I did last summer. It was so hot that day.
We shared the shade with a sheep and her lamb. They could see that the heat was more dangerous than my little whippet dog and just kept a close eye on us 🙂 Rufus, my dog was brought up around sheep and livestock and is very gentle with other animals. He tends to just avoid eye contact and keep out of their way. 🙂
I did the first sketches of this view last spring. The weather was hot and the leaves were just opening on the trees. This Ink & Watercolour illustration shows 2 derelict mills near Achnacroish. I spent a happy weekend camped there. There are so many bits of Lismore I have still to explore. I`m sure I will be posting more views soon.
Well, That`s it for now! I will add these images to my Print shop and they will be available from my Etsy shop soon. If you would like any more information or to order your original or print, just get in touch. I am always happy to hear your comments. 🙂
So, the wheel of the seasons has turned once more to spring. The calendar says so, the evening light says so, but here in Oban on the West coast of Scotland, nature is yet to be convinced. There is that air of anticipation, territorial posturing by brash blackbirds and squabbling sparrows.
Snowdrops have gone. Now Celandine carpets the winter-bare earth in bright yellow and green, adding a welcome splash of colour but they will soon give way to this year’s hazy bluebells. Now that spring is (almost) here, I thought it would be a good time to capture the last colours of winter and the beautiful forms of the trees before they are hidden again under the canopy of leaves. Below are examples of the Ink, and watercolour pencil sketches I have been working on. One is of an Old Mill near Achnacroish on Lismore and the other is of the 1745 house at Dunollie castle Gardens. (More about them another day).
I like to sketch using edding55 fineliner pens. I have used them since my college years and though I have tried and used lots of other types, these are the ones I find most useful and keep going back to. Good price too so they don`t break the bank. I buy these 10 at a time!I am fairly new to Arteza Expert watercolour pencils so Thought I would give them a try though on this occasion I didn`t use water. I used them as I would any other colour pencil. They perform well either way which makes them a perfect partner for the edding55 liner which is also useful dry or washed with water later.
One of my favourite Oban walks is just at the end of my street. I love exploring the ruins and woodland of the Hydro. Or the Oban Hills Hydropathic Sanatorium to give its proper title. I have been sketching and photographing the Hydro for the past few years, trying to record what is left and watching the changes as it falls, stone by stone. Huge structures remain among the massive overgrown earthworks. A Baronial turret tower,(See my illustration below) still stands and another turret fragment still lies nearby where it fell.
Tall walls and empty windows still survive. Nestled above Oban, construction began in 1881 but it was never completed as costs were seriously underestimated for such a massive project and investors backed off. It was once an imposing sight, over 130 rooms. A concert hall, conservatory, stables and gardens were planned too, but it was abandoned shortly before it was completed. Soon after, the roof was destroyed by fire, and much of the stone was taken by locals to build new homes. Despite its ruinous state, it is widely used by a lot of people. Lots of dog walkers, mums with children, young people keeping their romances out of the public gaze or having a sly beer or two. Angst-filled, anonymous poems and notes often adorn the walls, questioning life, the universe, and everything.
Recently, I found a textbook wedged into a wall. Opened in invitation at the page entitled “Diplomatic dialogue and International intrigue” Relating to the Judgement of the Lockerbie Bombing!
If you do visit and walk your dog there, be warned, there are some areas covered with broken glass. My little Whippet dog Rufus was badly cut a while back. He has made a full recovery but was a very unhappy dog for a while. Best keeping dogs and kids to the paths around the buildings.
Walk on past the buildings through the woodland and you will find a great viewpoint over Oban Bay and the town. There is a sheer drop so be careful if you visit. Put the dog on a leash and don`t go too near the edge! If you see us, say hello. Enjoy!
This year I have been looking at the skills of the Early Christian & Medieval illuminated manuscript makers.
These works of art are detailed almost beyond the available space, and their colours, which would be garish and harsh if one of us were to use them, seem to fit and work perfectly, even more so when seen in the way they were created. Imagine the monks, lit only by candlelight, creating these masterpieces with none of the advantages enjoyed by modern artists.
Many years ago, I discovered a poem. The story of a 9th-century scholar and his cat, Pangur Ban. The original poem in old Irish is in Reichenau Primer in the Lavanttal in Austria. Pangur Ban is also mentioned in The Secret of Kells. It is said he and the old monk fled Iona during Viking raids. The monks’ name is not known, but his cat carries his tale through history. The translation I found was by Robin Flower. Since reading this poem I have created many sketches and artworks of how I see Pangur Ban, before finally featuring him in an illuminated artwork earlier this year.
Since then my interest in ancient manuscripts and pages has revived and I have tried to recreate my own. As an Agnostic, I have found it difficult in the past to recreate these works, the themes were too godly/saintly/iconic for me, but Pangur Ban has opened the door to a new, secular view of modern illumination for me. Since then I have strained eyes and patience, and discovered that ending up wearing gold leaf is easier to do than applying it to the artwork!
I these images I am using a gold ink to illuminate. I use brushes to apply this ink as the flow isn`t so good with a dip pen. Probably due to the suspended metals in the ink, compared to other pigment inks.
My last few weeks have been spent wisely, preparing for Oban Winter Festival and the Argyll Animal Aid Christmas fayre. I now have a hearty collection of prints, cards and gifts ready to move on to new homes. This year my interest has returned to ancient art and archaeology and it shows in my collection.
I have always been fascinated by the art of the ages. From the cave art at la Grotte Chauvet pont d`arc, Lascaux and Peche Merle to name a few, through to the Pictish, Viking and Celtic designs we all admire, and of course those medieval manuscripts created and illuminated by gold.
The West coast of Scotland and it`s islands are rich in pre-historic and early Christian art. Everywhere you go there is a bountiful supply of ancient sites, rock art and carved stone. I already have an intense interest in the cave art and ancient art of the world so it seemed impossible for me not to respond to the sites I have visited in my new hometown, My Cave Art Series was born and will continue to grow as time passes and inspiration dictates.
Prints and gifts featuring these images and other collections will be available at the aforementioned Christmas fayres, but if you can`t be there then just get in touch. I am happy to post out to you at any time of year. An Artist is not just for Christmas 🙂