Jura from Port a’ Bhorrain

This is softer in colouring than many of my father’s works. I don’t have the date to hand, but it seems from the tones and technique to be placed among the earlier Kintyre paintings.

Personally, I love these ‘gentler’ paintings. Nowadays, the influence and success of John Lowrie Morrison has encouraged a lot of Scottish painting (including my own) towards the bright and intense colouring at which he (JoLoMo) excels; but quieter, more reflective pieces should still have their place. It is perhaps a symptom of our age that everything has to shout loudly to find a place above the clamour.

The style is straightforward – illustrative – but with a sensitivity born from a deep love of the landscape. Dad was very particular about his colour choices and would spend a lot of time ensuring he had just the right mix. For myself, I frequently use colours straight from the tube where possible, but I inherited a loose leaf book – a colour guide really – filled with catalogue colours in tints and shades so that he knew where to begin when mixing the perfect match for his eye.

After his stroke, Dad simplified his style and his colours became bolder; more direct, as he strove to recover his painting ability. He succeeded magnificently – and quickly too – but he never again attained the subtlety of his earlier watercolours. Acrylics became his first choice, and his clients did not always approve of the change to his style that resulted. He became a little frustrated at times; usually with his skies, when he aimed for soft watercolour but had to settle for harsher gouache.

Such things are part of the working artist’s life as I know to my cost; but in Dad’s case the finished result was always good, and sometimes exceptional.

I tried to work out the exact location that this painting was portraying. Unusually, I could not make out his writing about the subject – it must have been a late addition when his hand was a little shaky, (his writing was normally very clear). However, I have worked out that the place was ‘near Dalkeith’ – not far from Glenbarr village. On my next visit south to see my mother, I shall stop there and reflect on this tranquil painting.


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