Archive for the ‘The Outdoors’ Category

Winter skies

A winter break in Scotland. Mists melt into clear skies and still waters. The sun is low over the horizon. Liquid gold waves kiss the rocks and dissolve onto the shore. A pathway of sunlight leads to the hidden.

Short daylight hours mean that as in one direction the dawn sun rises behind masts, in the other a full moon sinks behind the house fronting the bay at Garlieston. There is silence. No wind singing in the rigging. No cries from wheeling gulls.

The fisherman, entrapped for ever in bronze, watches for the return of the fleet. The fishing grounds are empty. A time for reflection on what once was, as thoughts turn to the future. A time for New Year resolutions.

Getting Inspiration

Many will know that I spend a lot of time each year at Cardamom House, in the foot hills of the Western Ghats. This is in Tamil Nadu, a drier state than Kerala. The sunsets can be spectacular; the birds and flowers exotic.


We are visited by many artists and some of my inspirations come from looking at their work.  Some come armed with sketchbooks and notepads, others give us their website addresses. They challenge me to see through new eyes. They challenge me to take risks. They challenge me to work in different media.

My experiments have mixed results. I am learning all the time.

The Western Ghats: The mountains – getting familiar

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At first, my creativity was quelled. Being in the same place for a number of weeks, with the same old views, from the same old positions can stifle the desire to explore. It can also lead to a more intimate awareness of the nuances of light. For the last fifteen or more years I have stared at the skyline of the foothills of the Western Ghats. I have become familiar with the gullies and clefts. I have looked out onto them at all times of day and night, with all manner of skies, and during severe drought and monsoon.


It is only now, that I am beginning to see detail. Using watercolours, the number of interpretations becomes endless. Here are some of my latest renditions.

Cardamom House: Time to experiment

Back in Portsmouth I may sit down with brushes and paints, but my creativity often feels constrained by other demands on my time and the limitations of my intentions. Having two months at Cardamom House gives plenty of time to try out ideas and experiment.

Here are three different watercolour styles. At times, it has been difficult to come to terms with the vibrancy of the light here, in South India. The abstract on the left was prompted by the colours of the dried up lake bed. It would probably be more effective in inks, but here I am constrained by the materials available to me. This makes me think far more about application.




End of Year Reflections

p1060324For me, New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection, a time for taking stock. In addition,  as the year draws to a close, my attentions are drawn to:

  • writing a paper on how we connect with place, and
  • selecting images that might be suitable for the forthcoming Emsworth Arts Trail.

Again, I have become aware that my focus is drawn to landscapes in which the sea or sky conveys a mood, hinting at the spirit of the place.

In the next year, I will challenge myself to move out of my comfort zone and explore other ways of connecting sites, local and further afield.




Skye: The Hunt for the Aurora

P1000995The Aurora Borealis is visible on Skye on many nights each year. I have witnessed these curtains of light pulsating across the sky in Norway and Finland, but the prospect of seeing them in Scotland was attractive. However, the trip was blighted with swirling clouds and mist. It was on the last two days that it became apparent that the cottage was set among mountains. However, this can focus the attention on what is visible, such as black houses.


P59A4795A day to encircle the Quarang was accompanied by swirling mists that erupted into torrential rain and periods of bright sunlight.





P1000965The final drive back towards more settled weather was just as stunning. The damp road leads the eye towards the Cuillin Ridge, so packed with personal memories. The colours were as I had painted them.








The aurora may have been illusive, but the vistas and skies were breath taking.


The Cuillin Ridge.





The clarity of the light, with the deep shadows, encouraged me to experiment with pen and ink and develop a small range of paintings – my interpretations of this landscape.

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The setting and conversations with people have helped me to understand more of Peter May’s novel, “The Black House”. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Iceland: Sea and Sky

img_5610As I reflect on photographs that I have noted as ones that I am reasonably happy with, it becomes clear that I am drawn to images of sea and sky …. moody atmospheric skies …. light dancing on water …. a sense of magic. These images are from a trip to Iceland, a European Conference on Adventure and Outdoor Learning. Visiting environments, that may seem alien or might have a sense mystery, can jolt me into exploring similar themes when I am faced with the familiar back home.







Prinsted: Still air and dancing light

Prinsed b Prinsed aPrinsted PanoramaA short walk along the shore at Prinsted has given so many opportunities for photography.





These have ‘watercolour skies’.
Thanks to Emsworth artist, Nic Cowper, for encouraging me to look at landscapes in a new way.


The Art Trail has ended

Posts Row1At Tuppenny Barn we had about 400 visitors. It is a superb venue. I sold the black and white pictured here. It is always good to sell things as this gives me feedback. Also popular were some of the tree images I took years ago. May be it is time to get out into the woods again.


Emsworth Arts Trail, 3-5 May at Tuppenny Barn

An eclectic exhibition of photographs!Wixford 1

Red orchids