If you are one of those long suffering souls who have been reading my blogs over the last few years….. well, there are changes afoot. I’ve written close on 300 blogs over this time and for the most, I’ve really enjoyed doing them. I tried to write a new one each week and for quite a few years did this with very few breaks. Over the last year – 18 months however, you will have noticed that they have appeared less regularly and indeed, during the whole of 2016 I wrote only 19 blogs I think. The reasons for this are simply that I have become increasingly busy but at the same time, my little bit of sight has deteriorated further and this means that everything takes even longer and is more difficult to do. In short, the writing of my weekly blog and ‘artwork of the week’, was taking more and more time to do…..on average, I guess it is taking me almost five hours a week. With the increased work load now that I am developing the audio visual projects as well as my usual paintings, I just can’t do everything ….and something has to go. Five hours a week doesn’t sound that much, but over a year that adds up to a huge amount of time which I could better use to produce more work, or promote and sell the work I have. So then, I’ve decided to update my website less regularly this year. I’ll be updating it about eight times over the year. The blogs will become more like reports of what’s been happening over the previous couple of months and the home page will show one of my most recent paintings. I hope this will still be of interest. Anyway, without further ado, here is a little catch-up on the last few months.
A large part of 2016 was, for me, taken up with The Oregon Project. This is the large audio visual piece of work I did in collaboration with Microsoft researcher Neel Joshi, Ayrshire sound engineer, Graham Byron, and independent Seattle based film maker, Dan Thornton. The work finally all came together in mid October when the work was installed as part of the big “9e2” Art, Science and Technology Exhibition in Seattle. I’ve written much about this project as it developed and so I think the best will be to add the following links. These will take you to an article and very short video that were commissioned by Microsoft to help promote The Oregon Project.
As you will see, this was a huge project that required many months of almost non-stop work. As such, I had little or no time to do anything else during the period May – end of October. This meant that for the first time in almost 18 years, we didn’t do any serious hill or mountain walking during the summer. Not only had we rapidly become unfit…. we had both put on a few pounds too! So, on returning to Scotland from Seattle we’ve started to get out walking again. We’ve only done some easy and fairly short walks but the legs are starting to feel a bit better already. Our latest outings included a fine little tromp up and over the Dumyat on the edge of the Ochil Hills, just before Christmas and a fine wander up Cairn Table near Muirkirk, a couple of days ago. Of course, it’s not just the fitness I miss when we don’t get out, it’s the ‘being out in the wild’ bit that I really miss and this is such an important part of my work. On these two short walks we experienced hugely different conditions. In the Ochil Hills the light was extremely poor with thick dark low cloud sitting on even this little 400 m hill. On Cairn Table however, we had almost cloudless skies with very bright low winter sunshine that made the winter colours really glow at times. I will probably not create paintings based on these two walks but I will draw on the memories of the differing light conditions, at some point in the future.
I’ve also been working hard on getting back into the actual painting. The Oregon Project was all about drawing and sound and so the painting got put to one side. It’s been great getting back to sticky oil paint again and I’ve completed one painting, (see the artwork of the week) and have another three canvases well under way. I haven’t given up on my smaller acrylic and pastel work either and managed to get several new pieces completed.
Exhibitions have been rather limited this year too, but I was lucky enough to be invited to show some work at both The Strathearn Gallery in Crieff and Scotlandart.com on Bath Street in Glasgow. Looking ahead, I will have work showing in an interesting exhibition of contemporary landscape painting taking place in Halifax during the summer. I’m still waiting final details but will post these nearer the time.
The next major event for me however, is the continuation of The Oregon Project work. We have been invited to show the work at the Tent Gallery in Edinburgh University in April and so we are already planning this. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as it sounds as not only will we have to re-configure the work (the space is a different size and shape to the one we used in Seattle), we will also have to generate the funding to bring the work and the US team over for the event. This is going to be the most difficult part as my limited sight makes it very difficult for me to do all the computer based work required to make applications etc. Thankfully I’m not on my own with this though, Nita and Graham are both helping and so between the three of us we should get there with a bit of luck. No doubt that by the time I write my next update, we’ll know quite how successful we’ve been! More details nearer the time. That said of course, if you are part of a company who sponsor innovative projects, please do get in touch ….we need all the help we can get! Thank you.