Back to work …with a bit of walking as well


Ben Lawers and Loch Tay

Ben Lawers and Loch Tay

It’s amazing to think that a week has gone by already since we returned from Assynt. It’s been a good one though and I’ve got quite a lot of work done.  When I left for Assynt I had three paintings on the go (two 80 x 80 cm and one 76 x 23 cm) and so I’ve spent my time trying to develop and finish these.  I’m pleased to say that yesterday I completed one of the big 80 x 80 cm pieces and have brought the other two paintings on quite well.  I’ll be back down the studio later this morning for another eight hours and I’m feeling quite confident that I can get close to finishing one of the other two pieces by the end of the evening ….but it’s always easy to be confident before starting to slap on the paint!  We’ll have to wait and see.

From Creag Uchdag

From Creag Uchdag

In between the painting I’ve also been priming several boards ready for new work.  This is surprisingly time consuming as each board needs at least four coats of primer, but I now have five boards of different sizes ready to start work on.  I returned from holiday with quite a few new ideas for work and so one of the important jobs this weekend is to start to develop these a little in the sketch book so that I can start new paintings early next week.

After getting a little fitter over the holiday we’re keen to make sure we don’t let things slip and so were determined to get out for a walk one day during the week.  With Nita working all weekend, the weather not looking very good and myself with a dentists appointment on the Thursday, it wasn’t looking promising!  Of course, the best weather for the week seemed to be forecast for Thursday …the one day I couldn’t go and then on Wednesday I had a call from the dentist to say that they’d have to cancel my appointment and rearrange it for another week….suddenly we had a day to go walking…..we just had to decide where exactly to walk.

The grassy summit of Creag Uchdag

The grassy summit of Creag Uchdag

In the end we decided to go up to an area of high rolling hills that lie just to the south of Loch Tay.  We’d not been there before so it’d have added interest and the thought of good views north to the Ben Lawers group of hills, was quite enticing.

'Spot the hare'

'Spot the hare'

Our target for the day was an 878m hill called Creag Uchdag.  I have to say that it didn’t look from the map that it was going to be anything other than a good walk….just a high lump with broad ridges and easy angled slopes….but in a fine location.   I expected though for it to be a mixture of grass, heather and on the higher areas perhaps some stone …a little like its bigger neighbour Ben Chonzie a few kilometres to the south east.  But no, this was a grass hill …well, with some peat hags thrown in for good measure.  I would be lying if I said there were no stones …but you could almost count them on one hand.  In fact, I don’t really remember walking for so long on just grass ..it was everywhere …a great grassy wilderness!  On it’s slightly steeper southern flanks it did appear to have  a few minor outcrops of rock but that was about it …quite amazing.  It was certainly different from the rocky northern hills of last week and we saw no one the entire day.  There was though quite a lot of wild life around and as well as the regular calls of Curlews and Sky Larks, Nita spotted  several hares …one close enough for me to see with my monocular which was very nice.  On our return she also watched a large bird of prey which she was fairly certain was a Red Kite.  Having lived in west Wales for a good number of years we were used to seeing these birds while out walking Carmarthen Fan and so I’m confident Nita got the identification right.  We did see one last year over the hills near Loch Turret so I guess as Red Kites fly, it’s no distance at all.

So then, it’s been a pretty good week.  Two good days work at the studio this weekend and it’ll round it off nicely.  I’m collecting framed work from my framer at the Waverley Gallery in Prestwick on Monday and will be starting to put everything together for my show at Blairmore Gallery starting in June.  Full details of this to follow in a week or so.

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