Thoughts on painting studies :: Scotland

Composition study for painting inspired by Scotland . Charcoal on paper. 18 x 12 inches. 

Composition study for painting inspired by Scotland. Charcoal on paper. 18 x 12 inches. 

Wild Gorse Study . Oil on board. 12 x 12 inches.

Wild Gorse Study. Oil on board. 12 x 12 inches.

I had to pinch myself upon my first arrival to Glencoe. As the roads north of Glasgow winded broader into the foothills of the highlands, I was stunned. My eyes never able to stop moving, I scanned the soft greenish-brown winter landscape that began slowly wrapping around me. The rise and fall of the earth changed like a moving organism, with some parts sloping gently up from the moors, and others jagged and wild. All the elements of design and balance were in place. In Scotland, on the west coast, it never really gets much colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It always seems to hover around 36-40 when I am there anytime between November and January. But it does rain quite a lot - the sun scarcely seen. The land is wet, lush, and calm… Sometimes. I love how it all seems to change so quickly. One minute the sky can be marbled black and heavy, dispensing a torrent of watery sheets, and then quietly disperse only 30 minutes later, leaving a timidly low sun and a curiously faint, almost non-existent rain the Scots call smirr (end with an “r tap” of the tongue). It’s hard to dress for the day, as you can run into a variety of weather in just a few hours!

I am forever charmed by the harmonies of Scotland. The Thistle, the national flower, is an emblem of pride for the Scottish. Beautiful and dangerous - unable to be uprooted. But I often like to think about the sprawl of wild gorse instead. Nothing quite like visiting the sea with my lover. The gorse grows thick near the shore by Dunure Castle in Ayrshire. The scent of salty coconut in the breeze that blows over the spiny bushes of radiant yellow blooms is the stuff of dreams. She is like Scotland.