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Spring / Summer 2024 – Art and Life update |

Spring / Summer 2024 – Art and Life update

Since my last blog I’ve been pretty busy both painting and walking. Indeed, I’ve completed several new paintings during this time, as well as two holidays up in the north west of Scotland too! I justify the trips north by using them to fuel new work and in fact my most recent piece, 484 ‘A late evening in May, Achmelvich, Assynt’, Acrylic & Pastel, 2024, 80 x 80 cm, is based on the beautiful beach close to where we stayed a few weeks ago. We have visited Achmelvich for holidays many times since our first trip there in 2006 and I have always wanted to try and create some paintings based on the late evening colours there. This is the first of what may, over the next year or so, be a series of four or five Achmelvich paintings.

484 ‘A late evening in May, Achmelvich, Assynt’, Acrylic & Pastel, 2024, 80 x 80 cm

Upper Badcall, Sutherland, 16th – 30th March, 2024

Our first trip this spring was to Upper Badcall, a small community overlooking the beautiful Badcall Bay a few kilometres from Scourie. We’ve stayed here several times in the past but not as early in the year as this. It was really interesting seeing this wild landscape at this time of year. That said, the first few days were really warm and we enjoyed several walks in bright sunny conditions and the sun block had its first outing of the year on a hike up Ben Strome. This is just a small hill of around 420 m, but being close to the sea-loch at Kylesku, it offers magnificent views into Assynt as well as big views north into Sutherland. Over the previous years we have climbed many of the hills that we could see from Ben Strome and it was interesting sat in the sun trying to work out which was which. We could clearly make out the long escarpment of the remote Beinn Leoid and its neighbour Meallan a’ Chuil which we climbed in 2019 and 2018. Below are two paintings I did based on these walks.

399a ‘Towards Beinn Leoid, Sutherland’, Acrylic & Pastel, 2018, 30 x 30cm
415 ‘A Sutherland landscape, Meallan a’ Chuail’, Acrylic & Pastel, 2021, 80 x 80 cm (Sold)

Into Assynt from Ben Strome

In the past when staying in Upper Badcall we had visited the wild and remote Sandwood Bay and it was from these visits that I got the idea and sound recordings for three audio paintings. Scan or click the QR codes (below) to see and hear these pieces.

This year however, we decided to venture a little further north still and spent a lovely day wandering along the coastal path by the Kyles of Durness to the rocky point of Filean Dubh. It was stunning coastal scenery and watching the surf break over the sand bar at the mouth of the Kyle was really impressive. I’ve started another of my 76 x 23 cm paintings based on just one of the fantastic views from that day ……. and an image of it will hopefully be included in my next blog!

Into Assynt from Ben Strome

By our second week the warm weather had gone and the landscape took on a more wintry aspect, especially up on the high tops of Quinag, which turned white on several occasions that second week. On the Thursday we walked up into this magnificent mountain and enjoyed walking in falling snow …… as well as in bright sunshine. This is the view out over Loch Assynt from the Bealach a’ Chornaidh. It was bitterly cold here in the wind and we needed all our winter clothing for a while …….but it was well worth it as you can see……. It is a great view point.

Loch Assynt from Bealach a’ Chornaidh, Quinag

Achmelvich, 4th – 18th May, 2024

On our second trip north, this time to Achmelvich near Lochinver in Assynt, we did a really nice variety of walks. We met with friends who live in Assynt and on several occasions enjoyed gentle strolls with them just looking at some of the wildlife of the area. On one of these we spent almost an hour watching an otter as it splashed around in the seaweed at the edge of the shore. This was amazing for me as I usually can’t see these things and have to make do with an ‘audio discription’ from Nita ……this time however I was lucky …….. it was the first time I had seen an otter since before I lost most of my sight back in 1990 …so quite a big event for me. During this holiday we also finally got back into the bigger more serious hills, spending a fabulous day up on one of my favourite hills, Canisp …..and another day on one of its neighbours Cul Mor. Below are a couple of snaps from these walks as well as two paintings of these wonderful mountains from previous visits.

Cul Mor from Canisp
Keith Salmon arriving at summit of Cul Mor
Suilven from Canisp
350 ‘Below Canisp, passing hail shower’, Oil on canvas, 2015, 80 x 80 cm (Sold)
322 ‘Evening light. On Cul Mor, Assynt’, Acrylic & Pastel, 2014, 30 x 30 cm (Sold)

Back to the studio

So then, it is back to the work now and although I haven’t any exhibitions lined up this year, I am trying to get some new smaller paintings completed and I guess that I’ll be doing this for the rest of the summer. If you are on the Harbourside at Irvine, do call in to the Courtyard Studios. If you are planning to make a special visit to my studio, do just call or email before setting out ……just to check that I am here rather than out on a hill somewhere!