Canisp, NW Highlands, 3 paintings

The first image in this blog is a drawing I did a number of years ago and shows two of the most well known of the Assynt mountains…… Canisp on the left and Suilven on the right.

Drawing of Suilven & Canisp

‘Assynt sky-line’

The view point for this drawing was the high ground just to the north of the fishing village of Lochinver and reaching this point by the footpath leading over to the beautiful sandy bay of Achmelvich is a very fine walk in itself.  Anyway, as you will know if you’ve been following these blogs over the years, Nita and I have visited Assynt a good number of times since our first trip there in May 2006 I think it was.  We’ve experienced it in all sorts of weather when on a couple of occasions it’s been so hot we’ve been swimming in the sea and other times when we’ve needed our winter gear in the mountains.

abstract scottish landscape paintings

‘From the SE slopes of Canisp, NW Highlands’

On our first trip to Assynt we planned to walk Canisp but we were forced to turn back at about 650m due to very strong winds ….but had a fantastic look at this fabulous hill and its amazingly ancient surrounding landscape.  We saw enough to know that we had to go back in better weather and get to the summit.  We did this the following year in what was almost perfect weather ….blue skies, a gentle breeze and warm.  We didn’t follow the small path but took a more circuitous route over great areas of bare rock, boulder fields and areas of short grass and heather.   Despite being such a perfect day, we didn’t see another soul and we reached the summit and sat there enjoying the incredible views all around, especially those across to Suilven.

abstract scottish landscape paintings

‘Between showers, from the upper slopes of Canisp’

Last year in late May we went back to this fabulous hill, but in very different conditions.  On this occasion, just like on our first trip to the hill, there were strong winds higher up, thick cloud and very heavy rain and hail showers.  We ended up doing a very similar kind of route to that first trip, reaching the same high point and then descending down the steeper north facing slopes to reach some small lochs nestling amongst the boulders.  On my return to the studio after that holiday, I decided to try and do several paintings based on this latest walk on Canisp.  I originally thought I’d do three canvases ….and here they are.

abstract scottish landscape paintings

‘Below Canisp, passing hail shower’

But I think this walk deserves another two pieces and I’m just about to start numbers 4 and 5!  The weather that day wasn’t all rain; cloud and hail, periodically there were brief interludes of bright sunshine that illuminated the very rough landscape.   There were several moments as we made our way up the south eastern facing slopes of the hill when the thinning straw coloured grasses looked really bright against the dark skies and this is one scene I’d like to capture next.  The other, was something we saw as we picked our way through the boulder fields to the north east of the main hill…..it was a strange bit of a rainbow appearing from down in the glen but petering out in the tumble of rain and hail clouds.  It was quite impressive and quite abstract ….but most of all, out here, several kilometres from the road, it made us feel very small and insignificant.  Watch this space for the final two Canisp paintings.

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