So perhaps January is not the most popular month to take a holiday. And perhaps the Isles of Harris and Lewis are not the first places to come to mind. However, my newly found love of the islands has clearly affected my ability to make sane decisions. As I look forward to this year and all the new art work I plan on creating, I should share with you that I am pretty excited!! I have some wonderful things planned, new exhibitions and galleries, new products and more island adventures. Why waste a single second?! Life is precious.
Never do you realise this more than when your car is being pelted with rocks of ice and the edges of the single track road dots in and out of sight. This trip to Harris took in the sights of Hushinish Bay and the coast down to Rodel. I have seen countless images of Hushinish and each one has inspired me to get there and create my own. Here is what I got on my visit-
Although the colours were muted through a haze of weather, there were pockets of light that transformed the environment. All of a sudden, mountains appeared and even little houses pushed through the grey with their distinctive white washed stone. I found that the back of an Amazon packet was hardy enough to take the materials and conditions. Even in such murky weather the beauty is there, the colours are there and the desire to be dry and have a cup of tea is there.
The coast to Rodel took in Seilebost, Horgabost and probably a couple of other bosts. All of which were equally glorious. Did I sink my toes into the sand? No. Did I attempt some wild swimming? No. Did I compare the scenes to my visit last year where the weather was utterly stunning? A wee bit. However I like to think that it has been the catalyst for a different approach to my work. I attempted several studies en plein air. Many of these were further developed with supporting photos (including smeary lens shots). My camera will show you an image for 20 seconds or so. I would look at what I had started, look at the image, hold this in memory and then create it. The haste and sense of urgency remains as the memory morphs and slips into something else. However, the paper and materials stay dry enough not to disintegrate in your backpack.
This was a technique that I used in Lewis also. Capturing the snowy conditions in Blackhouse Village and Dalmore Bay was near on impossible to do in situ. I have painted in snow before, I have painted in wind and rain. The islands take no prisoners though. Looking out across the sea, it was easy to spot the next band of hailstones making it's way in to shore. I did not pay for acupuncture however, I consoled myself with the thought that other suckers did. Surely my skin would look positively radiant after this battering of pins and needles.
What did I take away from this trip that I had not previously come across? My love of the sea remains, my respect for the sea grows. Watching it curve and splash and roar and push and pull instilled a slight horror of what it's capable of. Beautiful, unpredictable and a demonstration of nature's power. I reminded myself of this when my text from Calmac Ferries came through in a reception sweet spot. CANCELLED!