There is nothing quite like the Scottish landscape when sunshine reveals the outlines of mountains against a clear blue sky – an instant inspiration for any artist
So we were blessed to spend our first day painting from Brynaport – our home from home for the duration of the painting course. The views from the house are stunning with the high pass road, just visible, winding up the mountains to Applecross and Loch Kishorn nestling in the foreground. A row of whitewashed cottages seen from the elevation of Brynaport made the perfect foreground motif in an otherwise more distant landscape. It also meant we could adjust our eyes to the vast, open landscapes which at first seems overwhelming in its beauty. But we soon got the measure of it and with the sun still shining on our second day, made our way to an old stone bridge at the head of the nearby estuary. From there we could overlook a fast expanse of flat grassland and water stretching to the far horizon fringed by the Corries mountain range. The lovely cafe just down the road was unexpectedly closed, the only disappointment of the day. However, we were compensated by home made cakes for tea, baked by our talented chef, Charlotte, who also produced delicious meals in the evenings and got everybody set up for the day's painting with a variety of hearty Highland breakfasts.
After an initially doubtful weather forecast, we were treated to another pleasant day and thus ventured out down the village road to the shores of Loch Kishorn. With so many views to choose from, it always takes a while to decide what to paint. Should it be the rocky out-crop by the water's edge, the row of old fisherman's cottages or the rust red sheds lined up along the pebbly beach? In the end, I decided to demonstrate how to capture the large expanse of water and mountains beyond the loch featuring a large fir tree on the rocky shore as a focal point. This was also a good opportunity to discuss composition and the various colours used for reflections on water. The next day appeared more overcast so we stayed close by and took the path to a secluded, very picturesque cove below Brynaport. Here exciting cliffs reach down to the water's edge, with large rocks in the foreground, shiny black and partly covered with glistening, yellow ochre seaweed.
These rock faces and their differently shaped boulders and crevices are deceptive. It took careful observation and drawing before we could start painting. My painting demonstration focused mainly on the three dimensional nature and the subtle colour changes within the folds of those rock formations. By then equipped with a deeper understanding of composition, colour perspective and the depiction of water surfaces we were ready to tackle the most delicate subject of all: clouds descending over the mountains. To get a good view of the dramatic mountain slopes and tops, partly obscured by rolling clouds fringed with mauves and yellows, we nipped around to the other side of Loch Kishorn with an open, seaward view towards the Isle of Sky.
The sudden sunburst through the clouds made this, our last day, a most rewarding experience and given the choice we all would have stayed in the Highlands for another week or two. But invariably all good things must come to an end and our last evening was approaching. We intended to make the most of it and displayed our week's painting for an informal showing with delicious canapés and champagne to “wash” it all down. After all, we had practiced water colour washes all week!
To round up the course in creative fashion we also had the pleasure of a poem being written and recited by one of our group, followed by a performance of Highland dancing and bagpipe music by two of the talented local teenagers - the most enjoyable way to finish a fantastic painting week, to say goodbye to the splendor of the Highlands and to thank everybody at Brynaport for their generous hospitality.
With best wishes for your summer painting,
The poem by Catherine Whiteside:
To the beautiful Highlands we came,
in groups and alone, by car and by train
and even from far flung corners, by ‘plane.
With eyes eager and open, our pencils aloft,
on beaches, in the studio and down by the loch.
With Bettina we’ve drawn trees and mountains, and rocks!
But Bettina! Oh help us! What colours to use??
Some Burnt Sienna perhaps, or some Cobalt Blue?
Apple Green, Windsor Yellow, Windsor Violet ... what a view!
Such fun times we have had, it’s all over too soon,
here’s our work on the walls, and a glass raised too.
Goodbye we must say, and huge THANK YOU, to you