Sunday, 13 April 2014
The first is of the Gamrie steam drifter "Daisy Bank" (BF393), wooden-built by W & G Stephen of Banff in 1911. At 86 feet LOA, 35 tons net and 28hp, she was fairly typical of this type of vessel. Apart from her herring fishing career, she also saw Admiralty service in both World Wars, finally being wrecked in 1949. One of her crew was George Mutch, and his grand-daughter, now living in Queensland, Australia, commissioned the work from me.
The second is of the Whalsay pelagic trawler "Research", steel-built and completed at Flekkefjord, Norway in 2003. At 232ft LOA and 2,430 grt, she is a good example of the new style of vessel pursuing the herring and mackerel shoals. The two paintings illustrate how boats have changed in terms of size, power and technology over the last century.
Sunday, 6 April 2014
My brother met me at the Aberdeen terminal on Saturday morning, and we soon were on the main road south of the city. We had no definite plans as to where our journey would take us, beyond Peter's instructions to pick up a couple of trays of bedding plants at the Brechin garden centre. This, then, was where we had our "twaal" cup, Peter bought his plants, and I took a look round the centre, which is well-stocked with kitchen goods as well as garden stuff.
Duly refreshed, we continued southwards, through Forfar before heading further inland to Kirriemuir and Glenisla (places I had never been to before). Here I was surprised by the appearance of a largish lake, which turned out to be the Loch of Lintrathen, the south side of which we skirted to reach the attractive town of Alyth (we were now into Perthshire) and the village of Meigle, before turning northwards towards Forfar again. All of these places had character and beauty about them, and I would need to spend more time in each of them, wandering about with my sketchbook and camera. Sadly there just wasn't time to get any more than a mere flavour-whiff of them on this occasion.
I forgot to mention Aberlemno, between Brechin and Forfar. My brother has an interest in Scottish history, and there are sculpted standing stones, commemmorating early battles, here. They are at the roadside and churchyard , and we stopped on our way south to have a look, but the stones are still clad in their winter protective covers, so they were unavailable for us to view.
Like homing pigeons, we always seem to head for the Panmure Hotel at Edzell for our lunch, and this was where we dined on this occasion too. Then we headed for the coast at Arbroath, and thence northwards. We stopped at Gourdon, where I successfully secured another painting commission at the Harbour Bar (an excellent old-fashioned little pub), then resumed our journey back to Aberdeen, arriving at around 5pm. I checked into the Premier Inn at the Cocket Hat, and reflected on a very enjoyable day. The weather had been cloudy, but this mattered little.
The next day, it was my nephew who had the onerous task of being my travelling companion. Our first stop was the all-night Asda at Brig o' Dee, where he wanted to buy some new footwear. It was my first experience of this colossal (to my eyes!) superstore, and it was certainly an impressive temple to the gods of consumerism. I did my best to play the part of hill-billy uncle to my red-faced nephew, as we passed the racks of women's underclothing which are a hurdle to be negotiated on the way from the front door to the gents' shoes department. "I've got to live in this town!", he hissed in protest.
We headed north out of town, again with no definite plan or itinerary beyond the general direction. At Mintlaw we took a westerly turn, as Kenneth fancied having a look at some of the Moray Firth towns and villages. We stopped at New Pitsligo, which is quite a bit larger than I had previously realised. We visited a little shop, where I bought a few provisions for the boat trip north, had a walk around town and I took a few photographs here.
My nephew wanted to take a look at Macduff, and I couldn't miss the opportunity of introducing him to the spectacular views of Gardenstown on the way. We negotiated the precipitous gradient and hairpin bends of this cliff-clinging village, and stopped for a while at the harbour, where the water was considerably higher than the last time I was here. My camera came in for some more use here. After this, Macduff - an attractive town in its own right - was a bit of an anti-climax, and we turned south at the Deveron bridge. I took a wistful look across the river at Duff House, which looked as magnificent as ever, but it is sadly no longer in the business of holding art exhibitions. The high point of my career was definitely my 2009 show here, and I only wish I could repeat the experience, but it doesn't look as if that will be possible.
We headed down the A947, through Turriff and Fyvie, and turned left at Oldmeldrum, to reach Ellon in time for our lunch at the New Mill Hotel and the Cornkist Restaurant. Sadly, it being Mothering Sunday, that most cynical of consumer-exploiting devices, the restaurant was fully booked, and we had to to slum it at a table in the corner of the public bar, along with the rest of the unwashed and unbooked. In spite of this, the meal was as delicious as ever, my only complaint being that there was too much of it to finish.
Sadly, this was the last meal of my trip, and we headed back to Aberdeen. The weather had been unfortunately cloudy throughout (it had been sunny in Shetland for most of this time!), but the change of scenery had been refreshing, if somewhat obscured in mist. I'd need to spend time in each of the towns we visited, in order to exploit their views and scenes artistically, and there just isn't time to do all of it. All the paintings I've created of such mainland scenes have sold, with the exception of Conzie Castle, where I made the mistake of trying to re-create the spontaneity of a moment in time, which is difficult to do in oils on canvas.
I'm more grateful than I can express to my brother and nephew for their help in these excursions. As the mist-obscured coast of Aberdeenshire and Buchan receded behind the ferry "Hrossey", I turned my mind to the painting jobs in hand, and other matters at home.
The painting at the top of this post is my reworking of an earlier view of Muckle Flugga lighthouse, and the old Yell seine-netter "Halcyon" coming round the most northerly point of the British Isles, heading eastwards from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. The work was a recent commission, and I have more to show you in my next effort here. Have a nice week!