Last Year In Amsterdam

It's a new year and a new blog! I am going back to last ,year for my first one of the year, to revisit a moment I don't want to forget! There aren't many places you can get on a plane from Inverness and just be there without having to get on another plane. One of them is Amsterdam and my husband and I took full advantage of that fact last October.

In less than 2 hours we were in Amsterdam. Readjusting to walking where bicycles rule supreme takes some time and attention but the canals, the houseboats and the bikes all make for a less harried atmosphere. There seems to be a zen way of cycling as they negotiate people, cars and scooters.

The Rijksmuseum is an amazing place with incredible artworks. But the most exciting and moving moment for me was seeing Vermeer's small work 'Woman in Blue Reading a Letter'. I had a postcard of it hanging on my bulletin board for a very long time and seeing it 'live' was amazing. I didn't realise it was so small which makes it all the more powerful, the light from the window and the blue of her top are so vivid as she is reading the letter. The delicate brush strokes and the detail is breathtaking.There is an ambiguity to the work as we anticipate what may happen after she finishes reading the letter. Was it good news or bad news? She is pregnant - is this significant? We never know but it brings you back again and again to this amazing piece of work. It is both familiar, intimate and universal…a moment in time captured so movingly by one of the masters.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (1663–64. Oil on canvas, 18 5/16 x 15 3/8 in. (49.6 x 40.3 cm). Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.  

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter - Vermeer

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter - Vermeer

Iggy Pop and Me

I love Iggy Pop! I have been listening to him every week for many months here at the studio. He has a music programme on BBC 6. A true original, he plays wonderfully eclectic music from his personal collection as well as newer music he hears and likes. The programme is themed each week (ie. Animal Songs, Here Come the Germans). He is quirky and fun as he chats, in his American mid-western stoner drawl,about each tune he plays and other random things.I was always aware of him , you couldn't help it! I listened to him now and again (Lust for Life, I Wanna Be Your Dog) and I always admired the bold and fearless way he performed and I got the sense he never compromised himself.Uncompromising, original, slightly mad (in a good way) what more inspiration does an artist need each week!Click below and check him out!Iggy Pop 

The Original Selfie

When any exhibition finishes there is always a regrouping.Often, as I decide where my painting will go next, I will paint self portraits. It only requires a mirror. That's why so many artists do it.It's not vanity for me - looking at myself is not my favourite pastime!! But it is always a challenge, requiring a lot of concentration.It's a nice counter balance to my more gestured work as I have to become smaller and more subtle with colour and form.Self portraits can convey the passage of time and state of mind of the sitter. Although I am not so sure about state of mind as you need to concentrate as you look in a mirror!But Frida Kahlo used her self portrait to convey so much more.Out of necessity she became her own subject and transformed self portrait painting. Both realistic and surreal you cannot fail to be moved by her work.Two other painters that transformed the genre were Lucien Freud and Albrecht Durer.I added a portrait of Emily Carr too. An accomplished Canadian landscape painter and writer, I like to think she painted hers as a counter balance to her amazing landscapes. (if you don't know her she is worth a look!)The original selflies! You can edit anything you want but I find the best portraits are warts and all.Here they are below…not too difficult to guess who is who!! Screen-shot-2012-09-16-at-9.20.52-PM      Unknown-3      Unknown-1     Unknown-2 

Cromarty Group

At the moment I am currently exhibiting with my fellow artists and friends in the Cromarty Group Exhibition at the Stables where my studio is located here in Cromarty.We are all artists from in and around Cromarty and get together for a week a year to exhibit out work.I am the 'newbie' amongst the group ,as I have only been a part of it for 4 years, but it has been going on since 1976 and I feel honoured to be a part of it.What an great turnout we had at the preview and a fun evening it was too! The Stables is such an amazing venue and really showed all the different styles of work beautifully.If you are in the area - it goes all week until Sunday the 17th, 4pm.Check out our Facebook page.Here are a couple of the artists you will see: the-hat                   Pink OilskinsThe Hat, Pamela Tait                                          Pink Oilskins, Simon Gunn  

Rediscovering An Artist While Visiting Friends...

I love rediscovering artists I had forgotten about!  While visiting my friend in Toronto, I picked up a book on the Canadian painter, Mary Pratt.Mary Pratt and her husband were at art school together in the 1950s in New Brunswick. She was told by one of her instructors that if two artists were married that only one could become successful and that would be her husband (Christopher Pratt who did become successful). Why couldn't she just understand that and stay home and raise her children and take care of their home. She did just that but never stopped painting, becoming successful in her own right.So it makes sense that her work is depictions of everyday life and everyday ritual. Her vision is subversive, as the domestic world becomes both beautiful and dark, gorgeous and brutal through her eyes. It is this tension that makes them so powerful.Now at 78 there has been a 50 year retrospective of her paintings touring Canada. Below is a description of her work from this exhibition:EVERYDAY RITUALS'Mary Pratt's time is not dictated by clocks, but is measured instead by daily ritual. whether preparing a meal or observing the beauty of an unmade bed her paintings represent a lifetime of looking closely, an intimation of the brief, abounding pause  before one must turn and continue. Her concentrated observation provides an illumination of everyday life, describing not only a reality close at hand but also aspects of life that lie hidden. For the viewer Pratt's imagery is a powerful reminder of the rich and complex feelings that hover around the mundane.Bedroom                                                  mary-pratt-dishcloth3                   Bedroom, Mary Pratt                                             Dishcloth 3, Mary PrattEveiscerated Chickens               prattm046Eviscerated Chickens, Mary Pratt                                 Jelly Shelf, Mary Pratt        

Stopping In Interesting Places

People will often ask me how I know when a painting is done?I tell them that I stop and put it aside and if I don't touch it for a couple of months - it is ready.I use the word 'ready' as I don't think any painting is ever really finished. It has been released.I came across a wonderful quote: 'A painting is never finished; it simply stops in interesting places.'Exactly! I have to stop each painting at some point. I need to be ready to let go, take what I learned from that one and apply it to the next. It's a process and it's fluid.It is why so many artists are never satisfied with their work. They see what they could have done differently. This is a big motivating factor to try new things and keep moving forward.It keeps us interested.I will stop here now but I am not finished!  

My Studio…My Beautiful Studio

  DSC_0007                   DSC_0017We all take things for granted and  we can't see what is right in front of us.My studio is situated in the Highlands of Scotland overlooking the seaside village of Cromarty.I share this space, known as the Stables Studios, with 4 other artists in  a renovated 18th century stable block with wooden pillars and vaulted ceilings.When a friend dropped by the other day she mentioned that this would such a beautiful place to work. That's when I took a step back and there it is, my studio…my beautiful studio!We all get in our daily ruts and we need to remind ourselves of the beauty that surrounds us. Here I am in a building with an amazing atmosphere and with the landscape outside  my door inspiring the work I do.There will be days I just don't see it but today I do and I appreciate it.Take a moment and look around today - you might be surprised at what you see!