Shetland landscapes

Here is a collection of landscapes all done directly in watercolour with no pen and ink. I am using Daniel Smith Watercolours, and trying different mixing combinations. All of these pictures are done with three or fewer colours, alone or mixed together. It seems to me that the fewer the better. The picture hangs together better if I don’t use many colours. And it’s faster.

Click the picture to expand it.

Shetland 2019 – pen and wash

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Here are some pictures I drew in pen and wash.

I spent a lot of time drawing rocks.

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Rocks off Burrastow

The rocks are overwhelming in their detail. Not every thing I saw is in the picture. But every thing in the picture, I saw.

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Here are some pictures I drew on the journey going back South:

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From the bus stop in Walls

And another one, really quick sketches:

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Another sketch from the bus stop in Walls

And here’s a sketch I did looking out of the window from my cabin on the boat.

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I sent a copy of this to PS, a magical person I met on Shetland. I was thrilled when she replied with a letter and a chart identifying the buildings:

Letter from PS.

On my next visit I shall walk over there and take a look.

Shetland, Historic site walk

IMG_3182The wooden sign from the main road said “Historic Site”, and pointed up a small road that lead steeply uphill. I was on my morning run and felt energetic, so I set off up there, keen to see the Historic Site. In Shetland, Historic Sites are often at the top of hills.

At the top of the first hill, there was no Historic Site, but a view of the next summit. I carried on. At the second summit there was no Historic Site either, just undulating hills in all directions. I was disheartened. I was also a long way from home base.

I turned around. In the distance was the island of Foula, which lurks on the horizon, looking menacing. Usually it’s seen across the sea. But from that second summit, Foula hovered above the green hills, too large,  too grey, too abrupt in its cliffs. As I started running back downhill, Foula sank reluctantly, until it disappeared below the horizon and all around was again soft green hills, and sheep.

The next day I resolved to find the Historic Site. I went on a mega-walk. Here is my route:

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You see marked the “Germattwatt Café” where I stopped on the way.

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I found the Historic Site which, against all expectations and precedent, was not at the top of any hill, but low down. near the sea, on a promontory, and near a fishing lake. There were low ancient walls, and the distinctive patterns of undulations that indicate a dwelling, property divisions, field boundaries.

In tribute to the wisdom of the ancestors who chose this place I stopped a while. There was a good view up and down the estuary. Good fishing was to be had, both freshwater in the lake, and salt water in the sea. Such fishing was still being had. In the sea was the fish farm and the mussel farm. I drew a picture:

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You see the stones of the Historic Site in the foreground. In the distance the “A971” makes its way East at the foot of the hill. The lines in the sea are the mussel farm. The high hill is  the Ward of Browland. Here’s the Ordnance Survey Map. The arrow shows the direction I was looking when drawing the picture.

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Then I walked on, following the sea. Here’s a drawing near the “pier” circled in red on the map.

The whole walk was 22km, and took 8 hours, including two hours of stops for drawing, refreshment and looking at the view.

 

 

Experiments with colour: sci-fi landscapes

Yesterday I was experimenting with Daniel Smith watercolours. The aim was to get a really good deep black with just two colours.

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The Perinone Orange with Prussian Blue is particularly magic. Two quite pale colours suddenly combine to a carbon black. It’s like watching a chemical process. Although it is, of course, a physical process. These two colours are complementary, and together they absorb all the visible spectrum. Impressive.

I did other experiments:

Then I had a lot of colours left in the mixing tray. I didn’t want to throw them away, they looked so lovely and jewel-like in the mixing tray. So I made some sci-fi landscapes.

The watercolour experiments were in a Khadi sketchbook. The Sci-fi landscapes in a Carnet de Voyages, by Arches.

Shetland, July 2018

Shetland is a place of sky and water. I was working on reflections.

Here are reflections of rocks:

Here’s one that is almost abstract. Perhaps it reflects a mood.

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The rocks round Burrastow each have a skirt of yellow and brown seaweed. So does the pier. There are lobsters down there.

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I am using a new paintbox and experimenting with the colours.

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You see the brown seaweed on the shore.

The island of Foula is sometimes visible from nearby cliffs. It is about 20 miles away, so it floats on the horizon. Foula is a mysterious place.

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Here is another picture of Foula. The island disappeared while I was making these photos of my painting things.

I walked to Footabrough. Here’s the route, and some pictures of Footabrough.

On the way, there is a lagoon where the seals live. The arrow on the map shows the direction of the view in this drawing. The weird dots on the map are because I drew it on the left hand page of the sketchbook. I’d previously used that left-hand page to try out colours (see photo below). Note I am wearing gloves. This is July, in Shetland.

Here are the headlands north of Footabrough. They have marvellous names: Knowe of Banascord, The Hamar and West Stack, Gerdipaddle, Skerries of Watsness. The picture is from Braganess, south of Footabrough.

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Headlands north of Footabrough

This is a characteristic Shetland scene. It shows the remembered view across the Weisdale Voe.IMG_2909

As you see, there was a lot of wind and fine rain. Here are some local drawings around Burrastow (click to enlarge).

On the way to Burrastow I stayed in my favourite Shetland B&B: Hayhoull, in Bigton in South Mainland. It is right next to the amazing St Ninian’s Isle, which is connected to the Mainland by a strip of sand.

On this trip I also did quick sketches using pen and ink. Each of these takes about 10-20 minutes.

These pen sketches are done in the Travelers Company Sketchbook. The other sketchbook I used, shown in some of the photos in this article,  is the Seawhite Watercolour Journal. I also did some drawings on a thick spiral pad from Jacksons Art Supplies. All watercolours are Daniel Smith, from Watercolour Box 3, July 2019.

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Mostly I use just one brush, the marvellous L. Cornelissen 1855 Kolinsky No. 12.

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Cornelissen brush and water pot, on beach near St Ninian’s.

I stay in Burrastow, near Walls on the West Mainland.

Strange Landscapes from Wood (2)

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Here’s a print I made at East London Printmakers yesterday.

It’s a continuation of the project “Strange Landscapes from Wood”, which I started in November 2018, before work for the exhibition and New Year Cards took over.

This print shows a dialogue, or perhaps an exploration. Are they perhaps looking down a tunnel? Or watching a sunset?

This is a chine collé print from a copper etched plate. The paper is thin Japanese paper brought to me by kind friends directly from “Paper Nao” in Tokyo. You can see how the plate was made on this link: Strange landscapes from wood

The plain print, with no chine collé, looks like this:

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The coloured bits are placed on top of the plate, glue side up. I’ve described the process on this link: The chine collé process

Here is work in progress: