Corrugated Men

Subconscious Musing, 4 March 2015.

“Corrugated Men”, Mixed media on paper, 42x59cm.


Deep in the Dark Woods

The sun dips down below the horizon and the woods grow quiet. No more for today the chatter of tits or the machine-gun rattle of pica pica (magpies). The trees that remain vertical after the early January storms attempt to incarcerate the Rotten Calder but cannot contain it’s incessant flow to the Clyde and the sea.

Mixed media (charcoal and Neocolour) in sketchbook, A5.

South Bridge

The big freeze continues although bright sunshine still makes it a much better day for sketching than working in the studio.

Hopefully when the dreich weather returns I’ll be confined to barracks and so will try to convert some of these sketches into paintings. Personally I would rather paint direct from the subject but it’s too far for me to humpf painting gear the length of Calderglen, so I content myself with sketching.

“South Bridge”, mixed media in sketchbook, 2xA5.

The bridge is unfortunately closed off at the moment because of the danger of rockfalls further along the track.

Wildwood Flower

“Oh, she taught me to love her and promised to love
And to cherish me over all others above
How my heart is now wondering no misery can tell
She left me no warning no words of farewell

Yes, she taught me to love her and call me her flower
That was blooming to cheer her through life’s dreary hour
Oh, I long to see her and regret the dark hour
She’s gone and neglected her pale wildwood flower” *


“Subconscious Musing, 28 December 2014”, mixed media on paper, 59x84cm.

*as sung by The Carter Family.

Fiddler’s Bar

Back in October whenever my drouth was needing slaking after a long day out in the hills of Arran painting I would repair, with my darling wife, to Fiddlers Bar and Bistro in Brodick for a pint of Bellhaven Black. The food is good too but for me the real attraction is the variety of live music they play every night.

With many fantastic bands and musicians the real star is Donal, part owner of
the bar(?), and nightly fiddle accompaniment (hence the name: Fiddler’s Bar):

Sam the Skull                        “Donal Playing ‘Sam the Skull'”, pencil in sketchbook, A6.

Waiting for the Federals                             “Waiting for the Federals”, pencil in sketchbook, A6.

I love his fantastic ability to improvise on any tune.

Arran Sketchbook 4 : Cnocan Donna

Donna’s Mount or Hillside, North Glen Sannox.

Continuing my travels with a sketchbook I took on this lump of rock from the perfect one-car parking lay-by, having to reverse in thereby allowing me to get the car boot open with easy access to all my materials.

“Cnocan Donna”, mixed media (pencil and Neocolours) in sketchbook, A5x2.

The real fun began later when I launched into plein air painting in acrylics. With easel set up and paints, brushes and water pot laid out on the ground in front of me a bold start was made. The dark clouds which were building up over the cnocan and it’s initial risible spits and spots of rain (I laugh in the face of smirr!) should have forewarned me of approaching disaster. Undeterred I kept going under a large umbrella held in one hand and a brush in the other. When the spits turned to steady rain I knew I was in trouble – how the heck to get my painting into the car without having it wash off onto my feet?

First thoughts were to tough it out, after all it was only a bit of rain. You would think it couldn’t get any heavier, but it did – the downpour turned into a deluge!

With the brolly protecting the painting but not me and water running down my neck I finally gave up, chucked the painting and gamp into the boot and dived into the car soaked from head to toe.

“Cnocan Donna”, acrylics on paper, 42x59cm.

At least the acrylic paint didn’t wash off and I eventually dried out with a flask of hot tea to warm my cockles and a buttered gingerbread slice. Happy days.

Arran Sketchbook 3

On the North side of Glen Sannox stands the mighty Suidhe Fhearghas, or Seat of Fergus, and behind at more than 200m higher, the jagged crown of Abnail’s Castle – Caisteal Abnail.

Mixed medial (pencil, watercolours, and Neocolours II) in sketchbook, A5x2.

I wonder what Fergus, on his lofty seat, scraping his napper off the sky blue, or Abnail in his black ivory tower, would have made of me on my wee canvas fold-a-way seat muttering about the privations an artist in the wild has to put up with including the crick in my neck from peering so far upwards!