Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig

One of the great things about having a studio on Irvine harbour side, (apart that is from the wonderful views, the sounds of the birds, the amazing colours, the fine food and beer at The Ship Inn …….) apart from all of those …is the fact that if the work isn’t going too well, you can simply down tools and walk the riverside to the sea. It’s only about a ten minute walk and when you get there you can either head for a tromp along the beach …all the way to Troon if you wish, or you can simply wander out to the end of the little man made spit and just take in the view and the sounds.

At the end of this spit or breakwater …or whatever it’s called, is one of these circular direction boards with arrows pointing off at all points of the compass indicating the direction and distance of places near and far. It’s a sobering thought that you’re sat on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean ….bar for the Isle of Arran, the narrow strip of Kintyre and a few small islands there isn’t anything else between you and the North American continent. I guess this is why we get a tad more rain than our neighbours over in Fyfe or Angus, but it really is what makes this west coast of Scotland so magnificent.

Ailsa

Ailsa

But I digress …the point of this ramble is that one of the places that has an arrow pointing to it is Ailsa Craig …the amazing plug of rock that rises abruptly from the sea a good few miles to the south of Irvine. When the Atlantic weather systems are in charge this distinctive island disappears into the mist and the sea, but on a clear day even I can see it with my monocular with a bit of searching. From the North Ayrshire coast it looks quite small but if you travel south it gradually gets bigger and once down as far as Girvan, it dominates the view west. I’m not sure of the exact height but I think it rises to just over 1000 ft (someone better correct me if I’m wrong) but anyway, it does this in style …the island appearing to be exceedingly steep on all sides and making a very fine silhouette against the sea and sky.

When I first moved into my studio at the Courtyard some six or seven years ago, I did a number of pastel drawings based on this island. I found one the other day and it got me thinking that I might do some new works based on it …using paint as well as pastel this time. I’ll probably need to go and sit on the spit at the end of the river and stare at it for a while through the monocular and then perhaps a snooze in the sun before a leisurely amble back to the studio …. I’ve said it before I know, but it’s a hard job being a landscape artist ….especially so in the West of Scotland!

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