Summer 2016: Skye Larking and Stone Standing in Scotland
Throughout Scotland I’ve experienced a sense of wonder and awe for the relentless forces of nature that created such haunting beauty and continue to shape the dramatic landscape to this day.
Nowhere in Scotland is that more evident than on the Isle of Skye.
The locals tell me the word Skye comes from the old Norse word “Sky-a” meaning “cloud island”. The clouds that enshroud the landscapes certainly do claim their dominion. Their shifting shadows and enveloping mists add to the sense of mystery as the scenery evolves with the changing light of day.
The cool coastal air inspired us to hike many of the beautiful trails that lead to spectacular and breath-taking vistas. The most dramatic is the amazing rock formation called the “Old Man of Storr”.
In my mind I keep thinking: how will I be able to paint any of this… and could I ever capture such dramatic beauty?
I’ve always been attracted to moody landscapes with cloud-filled skies, misty horizons and soft shadows.
Dappled light that shifts through the forests and trees.
Reflections of subdued light on calm and tranquil Italian lakes
My years in Tuscany have offered numerous occasions to paint the land and seascapes in their contrasting tones.
But the most challenging aspect of the Scottish summer landscape is the persistent presence of all that green.
As I have stated in the past, green is the most problematic color for me to paint with. I am never quite satisfied with the shades of green as they appear on the canvas, they never look quite right. This will be my a challenge when I begin painting what I have seen in Scotland, as there is no avoiding the green here. However, I do look forward to it: As a painter I love new challenges, new subjects and new sources of inspiration.
Our skylarking on Skye not only rewarded us with scenic landscapes, but also delicious meals of locally produced and sourced ingredients at some of the island’s fabulous restaurants.
And of course a sampling of Skye’s most legendary elixir: the Talisker Single Malt Whisky.
This was a Talisker 18-year-old single malt; delicious, soul warming and evocative of all the sensual elements of Skye.
Our days on Skye went much to quickly and other islands of the Hebrides beckoned us….
Moving on to the more remote islands of the Outer Hebrides we were struck by the enigmatic traces of ancient human habitation in the form of standing stones. Their placement and meaning eludes us to this day.
This is the wonder of the Callanish Standing Stones set before a dramatic backdrop of clouds of a passing summer rain storm.
As a painter, I am rarely preoccupied with the longevity of my work over time. I paint on fabric, and the chances that my creative expressions would last 6000 years are quite slim. It amazes me when I look at these stones that something someone shaped and manipulated with their hands so long ago can communicate to me so effectively and profoundly over the great distance of time.
Of course I am left wondering, “what were they trying to say”? It is especially puzzling with the later standing stones – as with this Pictish Dunfallandy stone near Pitlochry. These carved symbols tease the imagination.
There are many of these stone rings, or arrangements, that have been recently discovered and excavated. I can only imagine how many more lie sleeping under Scotland’s centuries of peat.
I would have loved to tour this countryside one Standing Stone group at a time, letting them guide me through this magical and wonder-filled land.