I have chosen this selection of my personal favourites from over 35yrs of artwork. The pictures are in a variety of different mediums from watercolours to mixed media. As with all my paintings, each picture has a different meaning for me, I can remember where the location was, the atmosphere and how I felt at the time of creating them. I usually start my pictures by visiting the location and doing sketches and taking photographs for reference, then I go back to my studio and build on the information I have to create the painting.
Sometimes a picture has more history than others such as 'The explorer Dr John Rae's home' which was researched initially by visiting Stromness museum and his house at Clestrain. I read 'Fatal Passage' by Canadian author Ken McGoogan which gave me a real insight into John Rae's personality.
'Forgotten pantry on the Island of Swona was painted after a really special visit to this uninhabited Island south of South Ronaldsay. The seas are very rough around the Island so it is quite difficult to get there. It was a beautiful summers day and there was so much to see! the silver driftwood which had lay on the shore for years and the old house ruins still filled with furniture and personal items, abandoned suddenly in the 1970's because of illness. The elderly couple thought they would return and the pantry was still full of old packets and tins of food. In the outhouse were old tools clinging on to the collapsing walls and sunken roof.
Every year I try and visit the Island of Westray not just to see the puffins but immerse myself in the unique landscape. Each Island in Orkney has its own personality, the colours, buildings, beaches and light. 'Puffin twins' was painted after one of those visits, there were hundreds of puffins at Burrian castle that day and they were so close I could almost touch them!
The old bus in the picture 'Blackbirds and old bus' lay at the abandoned naval base of Lyness in Hoy, its body deteriorating each year, sinking into the grassy surrounds. I really like the texture and faded colours you find in abandoned vehicles and this bus was a lovely shade of light blue with silver trims. While I was there I noticed several blackbirds had made their home in it and were flying in and out of the open roof so they became part of my painting too!
Happy valley is another favourite place of mine. It still remains quite secret as it is quite hard to find hidden amongst the small woodland beside a country track. Edwin Harrold lived there and developed the surrounding garden. Visitors brought him plants from all over the world to plant in this little paradise. The house was very simple and he slept in an Orkney box bed in the corner of his living room. He used to always insist that I would have a cup of tea when I was there and I dreaded it as things were not very hygienic! Edwin passed away a good few years ago and Happy Valley has since been renovated and is now cared for by a trust so everyone can still visit.
I think Highland cows are awesome! There aren't many in Orkney compared to the mainland, there are more Aberdeen Angus here. I love their long luscious locks of hair, big noses and horns, wonderful to paint!
Stromness houses was one of my first ventures into mixed media and using 'found' vintage paper and other things for collage. Stromness is very quaint with all the old houses with their own slipways into the surrounding sea.
I hope you enjoy the pictures I have chosen as much as I did painting them!
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