I can’t believe it’s 2022. Last year seemed to pass so quickly.
It was a year of ups and downs for so many people and I was no different. I spent the first half of the year in lockdown working towards my solo exhibition at Gairloch Museum. It was a fantastic experience. I painted 10 watercolour botanical paintings and seven botanical oil paintings and probably several hundred sketches, drawings and studies.
I then went on to show more work in a joint exhibition at An Talla Dearg at Eilean Iarmain, which was exhausting but great fun.
I loved the exhibitions, they were both a wonderful experience, but I was very tired and a wee bit burnt out afterwards. I spent the summer neglecting my sketchbooks and hanging about in the garden, on the days it wasn’t raining that is.
In September I visited my son in his new home in Linlithgow and caught the sketching bug again and I have been very busy painting and drawing almost every day since then.
And now it’s the time on year when many of the artists I follow on social media share a top nine photo quilt (which is below) I’ve curated this year’s to try and illustrate my artistic year
The botanicals are from my Flora Gadelica exhibition as is the painting on the bottom right. That was a small acrylic study for a larger oil painting, which was a centrepiece of the exhibition.
The top middle painting and left middle painting were new works for the Eilean Iarmain exhibition. The top right is a reworking of an older painting and the last two were painted at the end of the year.
This year has been a bit of an artistic journey for me as well as an emotional one. Botanical art is very different from landscape art, at least it was for me, in terms of technique. Botanic art is much more detailed and very precise in technique and that affected how I painted my landscapes.
I’ve been drawn to realist art for sometime and am very impressed by the work of such artists as Renato Muccillo or Andrew Tischler and, after painting so many botanical pieces, I found myself drawn to that style of painting and several of the pieces that I painted at the earlier part of the year were in a more realist style. However, I’m not sure it’s for me and instead in the second part of the year I found myself reverting to a far looser style, but that perhaps is better observed than some of my older paintings? I’m still not sure where I’m going artistically, but I’ve been sketching almost every day for the last month or so and I’m seeing where that’s going to take me. I have included a small selection of some of the sketches that I have done this year below.
The studies above were done really rapidly one morning, when the loch was very still and there was a temperature inversion. These have all gone to new homes, but they may still yet be used to make a larger painting.
Some of the sketches above were done earlier in the year, preparing for Flora Gadelica and then laterly I have been using ink and pastels to try and loosen up my mark making again.
This year I’ve done a lot of sketching outdoors and have been experimenting with various media. I’ve found that when I’m working outside, things change really quickly, the light, the colours even the weather and a looser mark making method helps me record what I’m seeing more quickly
The sketches above show the contrast between being in the studio and focussing on the details of, for example, a botanical specimen or being outside and trying capture the vibrancy and ever changing colours while painting en plein air.
I have an exhibition planned for the early summer, but I’m also (covid allowing) planning to hold some open studios this year and hopefully popping some more art on my Etsy shop (link below). But, after such a busy year last year, I’m trying to focus on just making art for no particular goal.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Finally, I will leave you with the last piece of art that I did in 2021, ending the year as I started it with a botanical study that I did as a gift for a friend.