Variations on a theme

 'Approaching snow shower, Scottish Highlands'

'Approaching snow shower, Scottish Highlands'

Over the last few years I’ve done several versions of some of my paintings. Most of these started out as small 30 x 30 cm paintings but I’ve started to develop them at the bigger 80 x 80 cm size.

Revisiting a painting is not simply a case of reproducing the original but rather it’s a chance to create something that is new but on the same theme. One can try slightly different compositions, colours and marks, perhaps in a way, forgetting the original place and simply developing the paint and pastel.

The move from 30 x 30cm to 80 x 80cm has been particularly interesting. The increased surface area of the painting allows so much more scope, particularly with the consistency of the paint and the means by which it is applied.

The paintings included here are all based on a particular event one afternoon several years ago when I was walking with a group from our local club Air na Creagan. It was sometime in February I seem to remember and we’d travelled up to Braemar on a Friday evening with the aim of climbing Lochnagar the following day. We’d booked into the youth hostel for the weekend and were all looking forward to some good winter walking. Quite how wintry it was to be only became apparent as the weekend approached and we watched the forecasts. We arrived in Braemar in the early evening, crossing the high road through Glen Shee in the dark but with the first few flakes of snow falling lightly out of the gloom and being caught in the light of the headlights. As was customary on such weekends, first stop after arriving was the local hotel for food and a beer and by the time we started walking back up the street to the youth hostel it was snowing if not hard, then certainly steadily. Talk before we went to bed was of planning something less taxing than Lochnagar. If it carried on snowing over night we’d not even get the cars to the start point let alone want to tackle what might be thick fresh snow. In the end, the alternative was to do a circular walk out of Braemar and up and over Morone ….a gentle hill of I seem to remember around 800 m.

'Below Morone_ approaching snow shower'

'Below Morone_ approaching snow shower'

In the morning we arose to a good few centimetres of snow and although not too bad it wasn’t really the weather to be driving too far on small roads …and the wind had really picked up, so it would be uncomfortable higher up. Everywhere did look pretty wonderful though as we walked through the little town and picked up the path zig zagging its way up the slopes of Morone. But what a difference as we got out onto the high open and unprotected slopes near the summit. The snow was coming in heavy and quite lengthy showers and as they blew in the winds increased dramatically. There is a radio mast at the top with an access land drover track leading to it from the other side of the hill and at that point we stopped in the slight shelter offered by the wall of the hut. The wind chill up there was severe and despite this being a very modest little hill, this certainly wasn’t the place to hang around. Our planned route led across the summit plateau and then descended into a glen …before an easy walk back out and into the town. The walk across the top of the hill was difficult though…. the snow being blasted along horizontally in a real blizzard. It was hard to see for a while until eventually we started to descend into the glen ..and once again got some shelter from the surrounding hills. After a bit of a battle through in places quite deep snow we picked up another estate track and decided to sit for a while and catch up on a late lunch. As we sat there, we watched the sky darken and then very rapidly this huge snow shower poured over the hilltop at the end of the glen and raced towards us. It was a very impressive sight and one that has stuck with me….it is also the subject of these five paintings.

'Snow shower, Central Highlands'

'Snow shower, Central Highlands'

The snow didn’t go away over night and on Sunday morning we arose to quite thick snow …15 + cm and it was still falling.,. The Glen Shee road was closed and after waiting for several hours for it to ease, we set out for home…..along the only road out …..a tricky drive east to Aberdeen and then back via Dundee! As the whole of Scotland had been hit by the snow none of the roads were very good and our journey back to Ayrshire took many hours. It was quite a weekend!

'Approaching snow shower, above Braemar'

'Approaching snow shower, above Braemar'

 

'Approaching snow shower, above Braemar'

'Approaching snow shower, above Braemar'

 

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

 

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