Blog 200 ….In the cloud

According to my records, this is Blog number 200 ….and of course, I’m late with it!  No change there, I hear you cry!  Anyway …here we go.

'On Mam na Gualainn, August'

‘On Mam na Gualainn, August’

As some of you will have seen if you’ve been to my Face Book page recently: Keith Salmon – Scottish Landscape Artist; I’ve finished the 80 x 80 cm painting based on our walk on Mam na Gualainn back in the summer.  As I’ve said before, it was a strange day with low banks of clouds drifting in from the west and breaking as they ran into the high hills of Glencoe and the Mamores.  Most of the time the cloud appeared at the side of the hill we were on and then either drifted on by or rose up.  As we sat near the summit however, not only did the glen below us gradually fill up with a great bank of cloud, but the general layer of cloud above us became very thick and dark and started to descend.  As we walked east along the broad ridge, the two almost met and it became very gloomy and dramatic.

This is a scene that I’ve witnessed a good few times over  the many years I’ve been walking in the hills and it never ceases to impress me and I often forget that for people who don’t walk in the hills, this is something they miss.  Indeed, six or seven years ago when I was walking over Shalloch on Minnoch with a group from our local club Air na Creagan, a couple of ladies who had joined us for what was their first ever hill walk ….asked what it was, as the cloud drifted briefly across the hill side ….they were quite taken aback when we said they were walking in the cloud!

But I digress somewhat.  As I was painting the Mam na Gualainn piece, I found it very difficult to capture that strange patchy view that you get when the cloud is just catching the top of the hill but isn’t completely filling in.  Thankfully last Saturday, Nita and I went up to Luss for a relatively short walk up Beinn Dubh and with the weather deteriorating as a weather front moved in from the Atlantic, we had similar conditions to that on Mam na Gualainn.  Once again, banks of cloud seemed to just appear at the side of the hill, at times forming a band around it ….the middle in cloud and the upper and lower slopes cloud free.  It was wonderful to watch this constantly changing scene especially when, as we got higher, the dark overhead layer started to descend and trails of cloud dripped down towards us.  We spent quite a time just standing in the cold wind watching this and it was time well spent.  When I went back to the studio the next day, I knew what I had to do to finish the Mam na Gualainn painting.  It’s all very well taking photos when you’re out ….but they really only act as memory joggers and sometimes not very good ones at that.  What I think you need, to create any painting, is actual experience of the subject……the few hours on Beinn Dubh made all the difference.

As a follow up to this, I’ve decided to try and create some new paintings which are specifically about being in the mist as it breaks around you on the hill.  I’m not sure quite how they’ll go ….I have a feeling that this might be an opportunity to work on a large scale ….but I’ve started quite small …this is a new 30 x 30 cm piece that is on the go.

Work in progress, 'Approaching Am Bodach, the Mamores

Work in progress, ‘Approaching Am Bodach, the Mamores

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