Category Archives: Isle of Skye

The sea, the sea and the dehumidifier

plein air oil sketch, Howgill fells

small oil sketch painted crouching in the bracken looking north across the Howgill fells, 6×8 inches on canvas.

Summer became a bit abstract … at least while painting in the hills. Maybe the real hills lost their appeal or I couldn’t hear them calling any more. After Cornwall the sea has been in my ears and a September visit to Skye with unexpectedly lovely weather meant that afternoons and, even better, evenings could be spent perched on the rocks wrestling with slippery oil paints while the silvery light took on pale colours. The first pictures were sketchy but the paintings changed as the days went on, leaving me a bit exasperated that I had to stop at the end of a week spent getting going. The sea project will be continued though.

plein air sketch of Loch Pooltiel

plein air sketch in oils carried out while sitting on the shore of Loch Pooltiel, Skye. Oil on canvas, 6×8 inches.

plein air sketch in oils, Loch Pooltiel, Skye

another go at painting Loch Pooltiel from the shore, 6×8 inches, oil on canvas.

Back at home our flat seemed to have developed its own affinity for water as the walls became damper and the atmosphere more dank. In October it was too cold to move around and the backs of some of my canvases were suspiciously mottled. Perhaps the sea business was going too far? It felt like it had invaded the fabric of my living space. Some kind of balance was required. I bought a small robot machine, a dehumidifier, and set it humming away to itself in the heart of the flat. It seemed to draw the sea into itself and I emptied waves of crashing water down the sink every evening. The Cornwall and Skye paintings looked brighter on their respective walls and the air felt warmer and more pleasant.

oil painting looking across Loch Pooltiel as the sun started to set

the first colours of the sunset reflected in Loch Pooltiel on a pale silver evening, 6×8 inches in oils on canvas.

small plein air painting in oils of a sunny day at Loch Pooltiel

Loch Pooltiel painted in the warmth of a sunny day, sitting on the rocks, oil on 6×8 inch canvas.

sunset and swelling waves at Loch Pooltiel, small plein air oil sketch on canvas

swelling waves at sunset. Oil on canvas, 6×8 inches, painted from the rocks at Loch Pooltiel.

second plein air painting of sunset at Loch Pooltiel

a second attempt to capture Loch Pooltiel’s waves at sunset, oil on canvas, 6×8 inches.

painting of Loch Pooltiel seascape, in oils on small canvas

Loch Pooltiel painted from the rocks before sunset, oil on 6×8 inch canvas.

So where is the sea? In Cornwall, in Skye, in my mind or inside a whirring water collector? Maybe all of these places. It certainly hasn’t gone away and the sketches feel as if they are leading somewhere. A large canvas is taking shape on the easel but it feels, at the moment, as if it’s treading water.

Loch Pooltiel, silvery evening light, quick plein air oil sketch

a final, hurried attempt to sketch the scene in the silvery evening light of Loch Pooltiel. Oil on canvas, 6×8 inches.

A lot of it will be wrong, but just enough of it will be right

oil pastel plein air sketch, Skye sunset

A6 sketchbook plein air drawing in oil pastels, sunset over Loch Pooltiel

So much has happened I haven’t had time to write. I’ve been ill, in hospital, had surgery. All new things. My sister died today. Lots of difficult things, incompatible with a cool head needed to paint. I’ve been to Skye again and, mustering everything, managed to make some scrimpy plein air sketches. That was just after the last time I saw my sister. One of the sketches must become a larger painting. I hope it will work.

plein air sketch in oil pastel, A6 sketchbook, Skye evening

oil pastel sketch of Loch Pooltiel, early evening, plein air, A6 sketchbook

The river god is gone. The stream flowing through the rocks is unimpeded. Summer is over. There is deep snow up on the hill where I sat and painted in the summer evening air. Even then, the sky held melancholy feelings. Now those feelings linger in the pale blue over the distant peaks with their blank coverings.

plein air [ainting, Howgills, 9x12 inches

on the ridge near Crosdale, Howgills, summer evening, plein air painting, oil on canvas, 9×12 inches

The moon tonight deserved a painting. It sailed diagonally across golden waves of cloud, a huge yellow boat. Maybe my sister was sailing there, away from the thick frost and up into starlight. Perhaps this afternoon’s sunset was hers. It looked like an Edvard Munch painting, one where the sun’s globe had a path of white light beneath it so it resembled a figure, standing against glowing pink and orange.