As you know, for many years my interest in painting and hill-walking were kept well apart. My work was based around man-made environments, building sites; townscapes etc and the days spent in the hills were just for fun. When I moved to Scotland in 1998 however, things started to change. After attending a very successful mountain skills course for visually impaired people at Glenmore Lodge in 2001, I met up with Guy Hansford (one of the fully sighted volunteer guides on the course) and with his help and that of the folk in our local mountaineering club Air na Creagan, we started tackling more serious hills and getting out into the wilds on a very regular basis. In February 2002, Guy and I joined 11 members of Air na Creagan on a weekend trip to Corrour and on the Saturday we headed into the hills on a day that was to change my work as an artist. We experienced a ‘proper’ Scottish hill day …..one that included all four seasons in just a few hours, from patchy sunshine and heavy clouds, to driving snow and back to almost cloudless skies and bright sunshine. At the end of the day I realised that I just had to start using all these amazing views and scenes as the basis for my paintings …..the rest, as they say….. . Now, when I’m out walking I’m constantly looking for things that I might be able to use in my paintings. Hill-walking is not just for fun now …it’s work too! It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it!
Anyway, you’ve heard all that before, but on Tuesday, we once again joined forces with our friend Guy and headed up to Ben Lomond for a leisurely wander together. We had picked another perfect day and the misty atmospheric conditions as we started, quickly cleared and by lunchtime we had bright sunshine . Our walk took us up the normal ‘tourist’ route until we reached the long almost flat section at around 600m. It had been a great ascent and we heard lots of different birds as we passed through the lower now partially wooded sections …including a very active woodpecker somewhere close by… ..it was really wonderful.
From the 600m mark though, we left the main path with its walkers making their way to the summit, and instead, cut off down the side of the hill to reach a perfectly quiet and secluded spot by the stream that flows from between the main bulk of Ben Lomond and the Ptarmigan ridge. This was the perfect lunch spot and being out of the breeze, it was really quite hot too. A short way further on and we picked up the Ptarmigan path which we followed back to our starting point. The views out over Loch Lomond from this path are wonderful and on Tuesday the loch was almost completely calm, reflecting the big clouds and skies. As we looked down I suddenly noticed that I was looking at something that quite closely resembled the new large 120 x 120 cm canvas I’m working on…….it was quite strange to see!