I love the sky in this painting (as well as the view, which is of Arran from Kilchousland, South Kintyre), and chose it to contrast with the Winter view from the same vantage point in the previous post.
A later painting than the Winter scene, it also shows how Dad’s style developed – particularly when he settled on painting either in acrylics or water-soluble oil colours after his stroke, when he was dis-satisfied with his work in watercolour. He continued to paint in watercolour on occasions, but often portrayed the skies in acrylic or gouache.
To be honest, I sometimes disagreed with Dad when I saw an unfinished watercolour and he told me that he was struggling to get the sky painted to his liking. I’m sure for him, he felt the strain of trying to recapture the subtlety of watercolour, which had come so easily before, while the more robust method of working in acrylics gave a more assured result. However, I could find no fault with his handling of the paint and I suspect it was more that he had not been able to achieve what he saw in his mind, rather than a failure of execution. He still had tremendous skill; it was more that he could not bend it to the vision as readily as in his earlier years. In Daybreak on Arran, however, the clouds have a solidity which emphasises the drama of the moment.
This Winter view across to Arran with Kilchousland Cemetery in the middle distance, was posted on Facebook in early March this year, when we were told we had just experienced the mildest Winter in 10 years. Dad liked to produce at least one snow-scene per year to be used as his Christmas card that year. This was one of the earlier ones and I think was done to commission – or at least a version of it was.
The feature – as far as Dad was concerned – was the flight of geese heading south. Dad was keen on birds and often included them in his seascapes in particular. Indeed, he produced a short series of paintings featuring Oystercatchers, Mallards, Eiders and others common around Kintyre.
This view reminds me of our time living at Ugadale and regular driving through snow to and from our Gallery, The Oystercatcher.
I tried to think of Dad’s favourite from among his own works and failed. There were many he liked at the time, but as an artist myself, I rarely hold my own work dear for long, no matter how satisfied I was with any of them at the time.
‘The Scart Rock’ at Machrihanish, sometimes known as Jura from Machrihanish, stood out from those I have been looking at. Dad regularly drove from Campbeltown to Machrihanish with a flask of hot coffee for company and watched the surf and the seabirds dance around the Scart Rock just offshore. Sheer delight, and a wonderful memory. And this is that view on a peaceful summer’s afternoon.
This is a special painting in more ways than one. It was important to Dad (he painted several versions of it), as it was at this point he usually stopped for his flask of coffee en route to Oban. He told me that he loved this view of the ‘Royal Way’ with its view to the mountains of Mull. On one version he noted the mountain names in Gaelic and gave the English translation and why the names were significant.
To me the place was significant because only half a mile down the road was the Scottish Salmon Centre (now defunct), where I had my first solo exhibition. These days are now long gone, but still fresh in memory. I wonder what my father’s thoughts were when he painted? Were they like mine are now? Most likely, but a strange thought nonetheless. We are all connected more than we realise, I am sure.
Another of Dad’s favourite subjects. This is the old bridge at Muasdale, which you can see if you stop in the village (a good thing to do anyway) and take a look around. I confess that I am usually dashing to somewhere or from somewhere, but Muasdale is a special little corner of Kintyre.