"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson

"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson
"Sour Milk Gill" From the award winning painting series.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Real Men Don't ask for Directions.

"Loch Dubh"
By James Swanson/ Traveler David B.
11"x 14" Oil on Linen

Watch the journey of this painting.

The Case of the vanishing Village. I've been listening to a series of books by M.C. Beaton about a Scottish Detective -Hamish Macbeth-in the village of Loch Dubh in the Highlands of Scotland.

Part of M.C. Beaton Book series

I listen to a lot of books on tape when I'm painting-now they are on CDs, but they still call them books on tape, hum?-and I thought I'd do a search and find out what this village looked like to see if there was anything interesting to paint there, and that is how I met our next Traveler David B.

Davis B. on top of the world

Traveler David B. was hospitable enough to stop and give me directions when I was lost looking for Loch Dubh. He helped set me straight about the sham of these M.C. Beaton books.
The BBC made a TV show from the M.C. Beaton books

There is No Village in Loch Dubh it's made up he told me, but there is a Dubh-Loch and he should know because he has climbed there and has taken some nice pictures of it too.

Traveler David B. Story:
One advantage of being self-employed is the possibility to take advantage of the fickle Scottish weather. Just such a chance occurred the day after I was doing some work up in Aberdeen. After visiting friends in Banchory, I headed up to the car park at Loch Muick. With all the rear seats out, its possible to sleep in the Espace and carry a bike (or two). So, I was ready to go at 7.15am next morning (28th June). Weather good - cloud high - no wind.

David's hand drawn walking route

By 8am, I was stashing the bike in the trees at Glas-allt Shiel, and heading off up the path - good underfoot initially, up past waterfalls to the Dubh Loch.

Creag and Dubh-loch is the dark hill in the distance.

A bit muddy for the next mile or so, then continued up gentle grassy slopes to Carn an t-Sagairt Beag (10.30am) well populated with a herd of deer. Not quite sure why I hadn't planned to include the White Mouth Munro - that had to wait for a second trip in 2004.

passing the Dubh Loch en route for Cairn an t'Sagairt Mor

Across on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, I could see something white or metallic just below the summit. Intrigued, I headed in that direction, and found the remains of a crashed plane. A few minutes later (11am) I was on top of the first Munro of the day, with its curiously split cairn.

40 minutes later, across a shallow depression, I was on Fafernie - surely the "top" with the least drop between it and its Munro!

Looking east from Carn an t-Sagairt Beag to the distant summit
of Lochnagar, with the cliffs of the Stuic on the right.

Another drop of 10m, then a slight rise, and within 10 minutes I had reached Cairn Bannock. Munro number 142 - the half way mark. A quick calculation showed, that if I took the same time to do the next 142, I would "complete" in 2028 at the age of 71. Perhaps I needed to show a little more urgency!

Anyway, Cairn Bannock was a good half way point for an inhabitant of Selkirk:

Tops come easy in this corner of the world:

Traveler David B. photo I chose to paint

Traveler Painting-" Loch Dubh" Real men don't ask for directions, but when they are given freely, you can take them. And that is what happened with me with Traveler David B. on this painting, I was looking for a small quaint village and found a cathedral of stone and sky. Lucky me!

Traveler David B. was on his 143rd Munro during this walk, which means he just past the half-way mark (as there are 284 Munros in total). Good place to stop and grab a picture.

The sketch: David sent me a few pictures of Dubh Loch to look at, and I did some sketching and decide on this sketch to to paint. The design was simple and straight forward and the color was striking- the yellow against the blues.

The Canvas is toned with reddish brown mix of paint and the sketch design is brushed in. A red tone was chosen, because the mountains are the major part of the painting and they are near this tone of color.

The Artists Tip: This is the secret oil medium I paint with sssh!, Safflower oil. That's it straight Safflower oil. I try not to use Turpentine or Mineral spirits in my studio, they really stink up the place, and not too good for ya. Quite a few Oil Paint Makers-Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton, etc... use Safflower oil as the binder for their pigments. It doesn't yellow or smell like linseed, it dries pretty fast, and tastes great-That's before you paint with it. Oh, and it's cheap. I buy it in big quart bottles at the grocery store. I also use it to clean my brushes. Give it a try, it's good stuff.

Darks are painted in first for the structure, then the yellow ground to base the other colors off of, I wanted the yellows to help push all the other browns back in space.

At this point it's the painting is Blocked-in. Wet paint pretty much covers the canvas. Now it is time to start defining a few areas.

The major colors are in place, sky is done, the shadows in the mountain have started taking form.

I am painting in the stones of the cairn here. I am not trying to paint the stones from the photo, just the feeling. If I did that, the viewer wouldn't get past the stones and into the whole painting.

Done. That's all it needs.

Here are some details from the painting.

Framed and ready to go!

"Loch Dubh"
By James Swanson/ Traveler David B.
11"x 14" Oil on Linen

Thanks to good directions from Traveler David B. I have seen Loch Dubh, but it's really Dubh Loch.
Looking for one thing and finding something better, I must be lochy-lucky, I should play the lottery. Traveler David B. has now reached 242 Munros - only 42 to go! I'll let you know when he finishes.

Well it's time for for me to clean up, and slide on down the road and meet with another Traveler and see what's going on, til then Mar sin leat!

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Have a good travel story and some fun and interesting pictures and we can get started on a painting journey.E mail me here with
name, place, and a few pics of the spot,and I'll get back to you.