Friday, October 30, 2009

Highland Festival - 1995

Some History for you. Back in 1995 there was a Highland Arts festival. One of the projects was an art exhibition of art created within a set 24 hour period, as part of this there was an 'Art train' artists and musicians on the train journey from Kyle to Inverness, interpreting that journey then handing in the work at the end. The journey was great fun, a lovely atmosphere on the train. I had my three children with me, then aged 9, 7 and 2.

I did a sequential interpretation of the journey, watercolour & pens on 3 sheets of A1 paper, the landscape reading like a story as it unfolded. These later sold to a swiss couple.
 My son struggled but eventually wrote this poem;

I am moaning on this train because I cannot draw,
Living in the Highlands is lonely
Living in the Highlands is Cold
On the art train a nice train driver showed me the cabin and I got to beep the horn.
The festival train what a beautiful name
Engines roar as rails click
Beautiful scenery passes all the way
So go and buy a ticket.

My eldest daughter Tal painted colourful landscapes.

Our work all got framed up and exhibited. As a result of this came a book, "People in a Landscape", which contained some of the artists and their portraits, from the angle of " the New Highlanders " The author noting that many of these artists were not indigenous highlanders. Myself included as I arrived in 1976, what about my children? they were born & bred here? does it matter ? There was an article in I think-The Times, which caused much anger as it used the expression 'white settler'.
meanwhile, my daughter Tal was chosen for inclusion in the book. portraits were taken by the very talented Craig MacKay.

There was a book launch, lots of people in suits doing speeches, I put on my best handmedown homemade patched up frock & attended with my gaggle of children. I hated it, stood in a corner like uninvited guests ignored, I'd always felt such and outsider in the arts scene. A woman with a very English accent swathed in tartan courted the press. We slunk away embarrassed & miserable, the chip on my shoulder had got bigger, I think I took the children for a treat like chips or toyshop, something lowbrow & real. Its taken me some decades to get past this outsider feeling, and its nothing to do with ability, just who you know & how you present yourself. Of course being a single mom tucked away in a remote glen with no support network didn't exactly aid inclusion for me or my children.

It all seems a million miles away now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Witches

Seeing so many great Halloween art work around I thought I'd better make the effort. I have to confess I very rarely doodle, sketch or draw things just for the fun of it. The list of commissions, gallery pieces, commercial work and organisey work is just too long. Ironically when I do just 'play' its not only more fun, I learn more, and people like it as much as the more formal work.
Sadly I've been rather poorly for the last week or so, all normal work is off the agenda and I haven't been able to do much beyond housework and climbing the walls. This shows rather in the 1st drawing !
I wanted to draw a more practical, modern, feminist, real sized witch - not particularly a self portrait! However this drawing didn't work anyway as I'm rubbish at anatomy without a model or references, bloggers I follow & artists I network with all make it look so easy- depressing.

But I liked this 2nd one enough to colour. I think she's also fed up all those poseur willowy Goths & Emos going on about vampires and rubbish, when theres spells and being scary to get done.

Which reminds me, I have a tonne of leaves to rake up in the garden when I'm well enough...groan !

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two lochs Radio- Sunday Brunch

Today was my Radio Debut. Mike and Graham from Gairlochs' Two lochs Radio station were kind enough to invite me onto their 'Sunday Brunch' programme to talk about being a community Fire fighter. Apparently this is the UK's smallest radio station, the tiny building stands overlooking the scenic Loch Gairloch. Inside I was pretty impressed with the technical gadgetry, all the more surreal watching a hawk feet away outside the window during the programme.

I was a wee bit intimidated by the Microphones at first, especially as the show was live. However a few firefighting questions and a couple of shameless plugs for my website later and I was quite at home.
The really indulgent bit was that I'd been asked to select my 4 favorite songs to play, it was a real kick to hear those playing out !  The programme was available live over the internet as well as on traditional radio.

Its in no way a definitive list, but I'd selected a representational radio appropriate cross section. These were;
Pearl Jam - Alive  which is an emotional one for me, more so after seeing them live at the o2 this summer.
Audioslave-Cochise Chris's vocals & Tom's guitar? wow! the lyrics are also important to me.
Tom Petty - Saving Grace, what an evocative poignant song- a real road song.
Steve Earle- City of Immigrants, particularily topical this week after the Question Time debacle, We saw Steve Earle at Belfast in September, a powerful political & moving performance.

So check out Two Lochs Radio, and Thanks to Mike & Graham for asking me on.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two lochs Radio TODAY

I'd forgotten to post this until today ! I'm on two lochs radio later this morning playing my 4 'favorite' songs and having a chat about firefighting, art comics, life whatever comes up. I think their website has a web cam etc. they will also be taking callers, which could be interesting !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Applecross Dancers

This is another small painting. 14cm x 21cm. Its based on a photo of two little girls from Applecross doing Highland Dancing at the annual games in 2008. It makes me smile as Applecross children are great.  They are unselfconscious, exuberant, and just a little bit wild, in a great grubby kneed sort of way like all children should be. I love doing art projects with them as its always a relaxed creative time, whereas with most children's groups nowadays one is always treading on eggshells.

Glenariff Waterfall Painting

I love painting flowing water at the moment! I've been doing a disciplin thing of only using paint for everything in a painting, as going in with pastels or water colour pencils seems - not cheating, there is no such thing as cheating- but too much a technique based solution. I want to know I can do it with a brush first.A bit of chalk would have made the spray & texture on rocks a whole lot easier here, I might ease up a little & go mixed media with some of the next paintings.  This ones 17cm x 22cm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3 boats.

still working on small pictures, working my way back to the big stuff, I hope to do a lot from photos I took at the sailing club this summer. this ones 14cm x 18cm

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Glasgow Herald

Sunday magazine 17th October 2009. Whilst its nice to get these interviews, its also very embarrassing. The photos were done in the lobby of a Glasgow hotel while I was on an FBU course. My fellow students were watching a moving documentary about Martin Luther King and the rise of the civil rights movement- while I posed. Surreal.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Spinning lesson

another small one, 23cm x 19cm acrylic on paper. This is from a photo of Margaret Beaton from Applecross teaching a visitor lady spinning at Applecross games 2009. In a way I kind of like the early stages, I'm hoping that by working hard doing one after the other that I'll get looser and distill it right down, somewhere between an abstract wash & crisp reality.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ceilidh Dancers

paper, acrylics 19cm x 28cm. working from phone photo from ceilidh we were at last winter. muddy washes and masking fluid for a couple of layers.
enjoyed doing the shoes!

Everyone loves Highland Cows

Heres the cow I posted progress pictures of yesterday. Not too impressed with this canvas, prefer the flow I get on paper. This is one of the beasts over on Applecross Estate, the calves are very cute but look like silly teddy bear cow things. Box canvas, acrylic 24cm x 30cm.


Coire na Ba

Okay that's that one finished, 23cm x 30cm. People who saw the film 'Stardust' may recognize the site of Ricky Gervaise's shop atop this hill. I called the painting after the Coire rather than the Buttress, which is unpronounceable. Its a weird hill, from certain angles it looks like a friendly scramble and calls to me - from a distance it becomes apparent that its thousands of feet of slippery vertical death, even for someone with fully functioning knees and feet.

meanwhile I'm working on some small paintings for Tore Gallery Christmas Show. There is the Highland Cow, ceilidh dancers, spinning ladies- to save confusion I've decided to put progress pictures up one painting at a time. The coo is nearly there, stand by...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Buttress and Coo work in progress

Acrylics on thick paper, building up the layers. Another view from The road to Applecross, a bread & butter painting, trying to get the sombre light without making it all too dark. This technique means a lot of waiting about between wet paint layers, so I have a few paintings on the go at once. Its not ideal as I'd prefer to immerse myself in one at a time. My poor attention span craves to stop multi tasking for once !

So this is the other painting, the obligatory Hairy Coo, this is a small box canvas and I'm finding the surface laborious with my wet layering approach. we'll see what they look like tomorrow. Then there's also the spinning wheel ladies I've just started...

Turning Tiger

So Richmond has a new comic coming out with Renegade Arts Entertainment. Issue 2 has a variant cover drawn by the wonderful Simon Coleby, and Lo! It was coloured by me.

I can now announce that one of the comic strips I was working on this summer was for this ; more details to follow.

Meanwhile I haven't got much art done recently as I've been working hard on funding applications for 'Hi Ex - The Highlands International Comic Expo' that we run. We have also just got back from BICS, the Comic Show in Birmingham, where we had a great time catching up with the great & good of the UK comics scene, we also bought some great artwork & a tonne of comic books. The weekend before we were in Northern Ireland.. all of which has left us exhausted, ill & behind with my art work ... but thats what tomorrows are for.