Painting in Scotland, 2019 – present
After a brief return to the US, I came back to live in Scotland, first in Dumfries and now on the Isle of Bute. Recently I started painting with acrylics, and I’m still getting used to the medium and finding my own style. Western Scotland is all about changing light, space and distance, and weather; the stronger values of acrylics allow me to engage with this mystical (mist-ical?) and ever-changing landscape.
I should add that I no longer think of myself as an artist: painting is simply a form of meditation for me: a way to connect to and celebrate nature, a constant reminder that this world is still full of mystery, magic, delight and wonder, and is so much more complex and beautiful than anything our minds can ever imagine, construct, or comprehend.
But perhaps more than anything else, painting is just my way of taking a walk in nature while sitting at home!
Painting in England, 2013 – 2015
At 60, I retired and moved back to England with my then dear wife and still dear friend Constance. We settled in Durham. Even after the intense and rugged beauty of the American wilderness it was a delight for me to come back to the English landscape and the subtle colors and gentler weather that I grew up with. I continued to paint with watercolor and loved trying to capture the most simple things like a mud puddle, or hedge in the mist,and of course those wonderful English paths that lead you through fields and woods, by rivers and streams, over the hills, and beyond..
I think watercolor is very suited to the English landscape, and watery climate! I am still evolving my palette, but prefer transparent colors and love the earthy secretive mixes I can achieve with burnt sienna, raw sienna, and ultramarine. I also tend to use Hansa Yellow, Transparent Yellow, Pyrrhol Scarlet, Quinadricone Rose, Cobalt or Cerulean, Burnt Umber, and sometimes Viridian or Sap Green. Greens are a constant challenge and I feel terribly unskilled just trying to paint grass or leaves!
Painting in North Carolina, 2000 – 2013
My early engagement with art is summarized in the About page. Between the time I graduated with an M.S. and started my “real” career, I didn’t do much painting, or writing, until my late 40’s. By then I was teaching in Asheville, North Carolina and had more time and flexibility to reconnect to myself. I no longer thought of myself as a “serious artist”, I just went back to my early love of landscapes and watercolors.
In Asheville I discovered a deep love for the “almost nothing” nature of watercolor painting, a medium that agrees with my spirit and keeps me humble. While I had some thoughts of selling my work, I never had enough time to become that skilled or productive. Each painting took many hours of work. I loved the mountain forests and creeks around Asheville, covered with rhododendron, azalea, and mountain laurel, lit up with a million wildflowers in the spring (trillium, fire pinks, bloodroot, solomon’s seal, may apples, jack in the pulpit, .. ), and filled with the songs of the Carolina Wren, Towhees, and the Pileated Woodpecker. The subtle shapes of the rhododendron leaves never failed to challenge me, and the deep shadows of the Blue Ridge always suggested a secret and mysterious world, forever just out of reach. Most days I would hike along the trails of the North Carolina Arboretum, into the Pisgah Wilderness, or up around Black Balsam, where I could fill a backpack with wild blueberries on a single August day.