Greetings from damp, misty Lochinver where I have been rained off for the day.
I arrived back on the West coast at the beginning of March, and it was rather a shock to the system. A winter on the beautiful island of Langkawi (Malaysia) and a plan to return ‘home’ for a month or so in April just as Spring should be arriving was rudely curtailed by the premature departure of my tenant, and the subsequent decision to put my Lochinver flat on the market.
I was as lucky as ever, though, to land some of the most enjoyable work I’ve ever had: challenging, creative and fun, I’ve spent the last few weeks learning the art (and science!) of mosaics. Even better, the raw materials are the delicious, yet broken (or unsaleable) pieces of colourful, decorated ceramics from Highland Stoneware.
Not only do I get to spend a lot of time ogling all the beautiful pots, but I get to smash them up and play with them as well. A bit of a shame, admittedly, but they look great in mosaic form too, and I’ve been practicing on the cement plant tubs on the road leading to the showroom, in which I have also been trying to grow some flowers, ready for the coming tourist season.
Sadly, the deer come and decimate the flowers, but so far have not attempted to eat my mosaics!
After my trip to Morocco in October, I spent a month on tiny Lembongan Island off Bali, with the intention of finalising and writing up the website for my forthcoming Painting Holiday programme (www.sketchingholidays.co.uk). I did indeed manage to do a lot of the work on this but also found myself painting a bright, fishy mural on the side of a swimming pool… yet another new, fun skill which I hope to use again. This time the complaint was that it was sometimes TOO hot, and lying on the concrete to paint could only be done with the aid of a yoga mat… apologies to Yoga Shack, Lembongan for the paint spillages on your mats!
From Bali to Langkawi, where I spent my time sketching with my new love – watercolour – as well as my old favourite inks; doing a spot of gardening; looking after chickens, cats and dogs; cooking in a vegan lunch cafe and best of all, on a luxury yacht charter sailing the stunning, island-dotted waters around Langkawi, which is very close to the Thai border.
The turquoise waters and jungle-clad, limestone outcrops with deserted, pale sand beaches provided an endless inspiration and I always took my sketchbook onto the boat with me, whether or not I got the chance to use it.
I met some wonderful people while I was in this fabulous place and I plan to return again as soon as I can… I am seriously considering adding it to my Painting Holiday destination portfolio despite the rather long flight time from Europe. It’s a popular destination for Australians!
Now back in Scotland and I am, of course, restocking the gallery ‘Lochinver Landscapes’ with some new work, which will be ongoing until the end of the summer.
There have been a steady stream of visitors to Lochinver and into the gallery and we are hoping for a busy summer season, as well as a dry one.
If anyone is in the area during the next few months and would like a chat about any of my work or projects, do get in touch. Or look out for me lying on my belly with a piece of broken crockery in my hand and a puzzled expression on my face!