St Monans and the old kirk in the evening light. I’ve waited for months to get to this spot, in this direction of light, with a high tide. The final piece of the puzzle also fell into place, being a fairly interesting sky giving me some inspiration to work with on that front too. This scene is so exacting; a lot of drawing to get right with issues of perspective literally ‘from all angles’ – in not only the buildings but the waves, bank and clouds. There are bits of the tidal walls in this that might look as if I’ve NOT got the perspective right, but I promise that’s the angles of the wall in reality. I was fairly pleased with this one, which was much needed after doing three or four previous plein airs that really had not gone to my liking. This church has the claim of being the ‘closest to the sea’ of any church in Scotland. It makes a really great subject I think, from various vantage points. In the distance on the right here you can see St Monans windmill, right at the other end of the village.
I had visited the day before to do the painting, but alas St Monans was stuck in a ‘haar’, as they say up here (Scottish word for mist or fog). That lasted for several days! More on that later.
Dedham Hall course
Thames Barges at Maldon, Essex. One of the demos from my plein air course at Dedham Hall.
Another demo painting from the course. There are so many characterful old tree subjects around Dedham, each deserving of a careful portrait, though being a demo this was done rather more speedily.
Just a photo, of a scene that caught my eye at Pin Mill while the students were all painting.
A happy portrait (as Bob Ross might say!) of Dedham Hall, late afternoon, from the back garden. I painted this to be a little gift for Wendy and Jim, the owners of Dedham Hall. I was time limited so it was done literally as quickly as I could paint. I honestly never eat such good vegetarian food for a week as I receive from Wendy and the staff at Dedham Hall. As usual, the course was a real pleasure to do. I will be teaching at Dedham Hall again in 2025, taking a break in 2024.
More recent plein airs
The Denburn Willow, Early spring morning. A tree at the edge of my local wood, which sadly is due for removal due to a bad fungal infection.
A boat that’s lived. From a local area of land adjoining a remnant World War 2 airfield, on a bright sunny day. I had a nice long chat with the owner of the boat. It was apparently lifted out of the water some years ago for maintenance, but it didn’t get done and now probably never will. I think it would need a lot of ‘maintenance’ at this point. Makes a good painting subject though.
The Lady’s Tower, Elie. One of my regular haunts.
Towards the May Isle, from rocks near Sauchope holiday park. First time I’ve painted a scene quite like this. There are endless such views towards the Isle of May along this coast.
Derelict cottage at the somewhat remote ‘Saltlake beach’. A cloudy day. I will return in the sun… Still not done a painting of this subject that does it justice or captures atmosphere as well as I could.
Camouflage! My partner took this photo of me in my ‘natural habitat’. As you can see, I’m dressed not to stand out. (Around the village I’m a bit worried that people may think I’m a military enthusiast. Or they may think I’m a ‘twitcher’, as there are some of those around here too. )
The Castle Rock, Kilminning nature reserve (my most local muse).
And again. The Castle Rock and fishing boat in bright light. Spot the ‘coasteering’ human, out the water for a break. As you can probably tell, this is from the opposite angle to the previous painting; a view from west to East (well, southeast).
‘In a slight haar’, on the coastal path near the Rock and Spindle. I was not happy with this one; got overworked and full of unhappy accidents – a bit of bad luck, but I think also a tired painter.
Talking of a ‘haar’, we spent the best part of five days in one, I think it was. That got annoying. I’ve been told that happens here sometimes, but hadn’t witnessed it before. But I had seen this following scene not far from my village when out driving, in previous haars. I wanted to try painting in the situation, so this was my opportunity. It was about a mile to walk, then the painting took about all of ten minutes to do. My water pot has never been cleaner at the end of a painting! Fun to try this, but actually, barely practical to paint in 100% humidity. This was also the only time I can remember wetting the whole of the paper before beginning. A very simple scene (too simple, as I made it) and not as atmospheric a subject in fact as I’d remembered it on those drives in the mist. I think that was at a different time of day, and light perhaps more behind the subject. Once my paint was on the paper I knew it was done. It wouldn’t get any better. To be honest, a wood pulp paper is not right for this kind of treatment. Not a surprise, but oh well, now I know for sure anyway.
And another first for me – snail in the palette! I wonder what effect the slime will have as a watercolour additive? Actually I’ve already painted again, having not wiped it down and haven’t noticed any difference.
One to one tuition sessions
Demo painting from a teaching session at Kingsbarns beach. That tide sure moves fast and those rocks disappeared at an alarming rate!
Teaching session at Kellie Castle. We were photographed at the time and posted on National Trust for Scotland’s Kellie Castle Instagram feed!
Pied Wagtail. Bit of a change. This was a little commission for a farming friend, who regards this bird as ‘the closest thing to a Dæmon’ he has.
I’m busy teaching periods of classes for a few local art groups in the coming months, with demos/talks at others, and I have my residential course at Big Sky Art in June which I know was getting filled up some time ago – though there may still be a space or two. I’m also giving one to to one plein air tuition with a few visitors in the coming months, each over a period of days (including a two-to-one over a week). These can be designed in an entirely personalised way with the student/s, visiting the best of local subjects in the East Neuk of Fife, depending of whatever the weather/tide etc is doing at the time. Please get in touch if you fancy doing something similar yourself in future. It could be combined with a holiday before or afterwards elsewhere in Scotland, for example.
I’m also about to conclude my ‘Beginners & Strugglers’ weekly class at Forgan Arts Centre in Newport on Tay, and hopefully will be running my next classes there in either the Autumn or winter terms.
The next (free) video
Before next time, please get in touch and let me know what you’d like me to do a video on, as I did with the subject of greens in the previous blog post. I’ve received literally no requests, so no need to hold back.
I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of spring and into summer. I’ll probably post again in a month or two.
All the best for now,
Photo sent to me of a recent sale framed up by the customer.