Over the years I have kept in regular touch with thousands of people interested in my work as an artist and author, through correspondence, mailings and newsletters. Now, with extensive world-wide interest, thanks to the internet and overseas distribution of my books, I can also keep you informed on a more regular basis.
I have created this newsletter to keep you updated with the latest on: -
- Special Events
- Recent Activities & Projects
- Painting Breaks, Holidays & Workshops
- Site Updates
- Latest Releases (original paintings, prints, books etc.)
- Paintings in progress on Paul’s easel
at Johnstons of Elgin, Morayshire, Highlands of Scotland............. Fund-Raising Roadshow in aid of Highland Hospice presented by Artist & Author Paul Taggart and Johnstons (Cashmere) of Elgin...........
"We had a marvellous time at Johnstons of Elgin who kindly hosted our Roadshow on November 4th 2009 and so enjoyed meeting everyone who came along to support our Live Painting and Private View in aid of Highland Hospice.
The finished painting of Elgin Cathedral that I started as my live painting demonstration of the layering technique in watercolours was completed in my studio and framed up as the first prize in the Prize Draw running until November 30th.
Second prize is a beautiful rug donated by Johnstons.
Third prize - three opportunities to win a set of Cryla paints and brushes donated by Daler-Rowney Art Materials.
All Prize Draw ticket sales in aid of Highland Hospice.
These photos show the one-day only Private View display of some of my original paintings and limited edition prints in the outerwear section of Johnstons of Elgin, Newmill, Elgin, Scotland."
This event forms part of Paul and Eileen's initiative in support of the invaluable work and services carried out by Highland Hospice, which serves a 10,000 square mile area. Central to this are Paul Taggart’s two exclusive fund-raising Limited Edition Prints, ‘Winter Solstice’ and ‘Gates of Dawn’, along with a series of roadshow events around the Highlands & Islands.
‘Painters on the Loch’ in aid of Highland Hospice celebrating World Hospice and Palliative Care Day....................inspired by Highland Hospice : hosted by Jacobite Cruises, Inverness, Highlands of Scotland : tutored and led by Artist & Author Paul Taggart : supported by Daler-Rowney Art Materials
We had many messages of support from people around the world, telling us that they would have loved to join us except for the fact that it was so far away!
Nevertheless guests came from far and wide in Scotland for this unique painting workshop and not just from the 10,000 square mile area that Highland Hospice supports.
One couple had come all the way from Glasgow, which meant they had to stay overnight to make the boarding time of 12noon.
This is what they had to say……………………”Hi Paul and Eileen. Just a quick note to thank you both for such a good day on the 10th (Painters on the Loch). My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the day, so much so that we never actually saw Loch Ness from the boat. We hope to be able to attend more events such as this in the future as it has sparked an interest in my friend who had previously never held a paint brush. Once again, thank you both for making the day such a success and for the warm welcome we received. All the best” PF from Glasgow
Guests were very warmly welcomed on board the Jacobite Queen by Linda Macdonald, the Fund-Raising Manager of Highland Hospice – who had laid on an absolutely stunning luncheon, platters of delicious savoury foods and desserts.
This gave everyone a chance to meet each other and allowed me the opportunity to find out who had painted before and who hadn’t – it was quite surprising how many had not painted since their school days and had joined Painters on the Loch to support Highland Hospice, with no expectations.
So it was really fulfilling to dock over four hours later with everyone rather disappointed that they had to stop painting to disembark!
In these photographs you can see me at my easel, at work on the step-by-step demonstration, which was carried out with breaks in between, allowing painters to work-along on their own composition.
While the painters worked for an intensive four hours, the skipper of the Jacobite Queen cast off and cruised at a slower pace than usual up through the canal and on to historic Urquhart Castle at the end of Loch Ness, where it turned round and retraced its steps.
I encouraged everyone to use the passing views around Loch Ness and the surrounding mountainscape as their inspiration and it was wonderful to see the many different interpretations of the scenes.
Each painter had been provided with their own set of Cryla acrylic paints and brushes very generously donated by Daler Rowney Art Materials and got to take them home at the end of the day.
Eileen and I had ensured they all had prepared surfaces on which to paint and our own ingenuous versions of a stay-wet palette, adapted from Japanese sushi food trays with lids.
A big thankyou from Eileen and I to Daler Rowney for joining the rest of us in donating our services and time to ensure that all monies raised could go to Highland Hospice.
And finally………………the last word to one of our other painting guests.
“Thank you for the wonderful afternoon on the loch. I really enjoyed every minute; so much so that I hadn't noticed us turning around.”
Presented by Bruce Macgregor, founder of Blazin’ Fiddles and proprietor of Bogbain Farm. Come for Sunday lunch in the bistro and stay on to enjoy live music by Bruce Macgregor and friends. September 20, October 18, November 15, November 29, December 6, December 20
My participation in the Northern Roots festival based at Bogbain rekindled in me the feelings that I used to have when following Oldham Theatre Workshop all those years ago. Although utterly exhausting, the exhilaration of working with live performers is unsurpassed. However, unlike a theatre play, rehearsed to the marks, musicians are quite unpredictable; their style and mood being heavily influenced by the audience reaction and when they get in their personal groove, it is unlike anything else. At Northern Roots, I was working totally unrehearsed, furthermore I had not experienced the vast majority of the performers – it was completely virgin territory for me –there was the added pressure of finding myself having to incorporate additional performers not on the running list. The challenge of completing each montage on the three days gave me something to think about!
I must have enjoyed the experience however, since we find ourselves returning to most of the open Sessions at Bogbain, where I work alongside the musicians and singers. Never knowing from one session to the next, who will be joining Bruce Macgregor in the Bistro certainly keeps me on my toes. Eileen and I make our way there for a good Sunday lunch, usually taking several friends with us, before I set up my easel and start work at around 3pm, when the first of the fiddlers, guitarists and accordionists arrive. The numbers vary from as few as six, to the largest group so far – some sixteen folk coming together to make music. When there are only two to three hours in which to capture this medley of people and instruments, you can appreciate how time flies, not to mention my painting hand.
Over the last three months, six ‘Open Session’ paintings have been completed, each different in its own way, as I experiment with a variety of materials and styles – the last completed on September 6th, when eleven individuals joined Bruce, including Alasdair Taylor and Rachel Campbell, who are very kindly playing for our painting guests on the Highland Hospice event Painters on the Loch (Saturday October 10).
Artist & Author Paul Taggart completes watercolour montage of events at the Highland Field Sports Fair as first prize in Pets As Therapy Prize Draw.
The weather was truly kind to us and I was able to work out in the open air for the entire two days. Having my easel in the main ring allowed me capture the events as they happened, although I did pop across to where Iain Spink was preparing his famous Smokies from Arbroath and to the Clan Chattan marquee where Bruce Macgregor (fiddle) and Brian O’hEadra (guitar) were performing for Mrs Celia Mackintosh of Mackintosh and her lunchtime guests from around the globe – gathered for their 400th Anniversary of the signing of the great Clan Chattan Bond of Union in 1609.
PRIZE DRAW in aid of PETS AS THERAPY (Highlands, Islands & Grampian branch)
First Prize – Highland Field Sports Fair Original Watercolour Montage by Paul Taggart
Over £700 raised thus far through sales of Prize Draw Tickets, with the hope of exceeding £1,000 by the Draw Date of December 6th.
As in 2008, my presence at the Highland Field Sports Fair was in support of Celia Mackintosh’s work with Pets As Therapy, as well as the Highland Field Sports Fair Committee Surplus Funds (which they distribute annually to charities and deserving causes). Pets As Therapy have a formal part to play in the Fair, by way of organising the Companion Dog Show on the Saturday.
The resultant commemorative painting is truly unique, with each person captured in the finished painting personally signing the image depicting their event and featuring the Terrier Racing Robbie Trophy, presented by Mrs Celia Mackintosh of Mackintosh. The first event to take place in the ring was a Farrier Demonstration, presented as usual by Robin Pape and his team, working on a Clydesdale mare and her foal. However, the figure shown working on the hind hoof is a young man from Kentucky, by the name of Chuck, over for a working holiday.
Katy Cropper, Sheepdog Handler and Trainer was most entertaining, as was her delightful six year old daughter Henrietta, with their display of Dogs and Ducks – top left of the painting. A constantly moving horse and hound pack is something of a challenge, but I did manage to portray Master Trevor Adams as he paraded the Duke of Buccleuchs Pack. Falconer Alan Rothery (Skyhigh Falconry) captured everyone’s attention, including mine and I struggled to concentrate on painting him, rather than simply watching his entrancing display for the pleasure of it! And quite by chance, the chap with the spaniel during the Gun Dog Handling display by Moray Firth Spaniel & Retriever Club turned out to be Alan Pett, joint partner of Tain Pottery, himself an artist who paints many of the specimen pieces, some of which we have in our personal collection of Tain Pottery.
Highland Field Sports Fair - Original Watercolour Montage
Draw takes place on December 6th during the Bogbain Farm ‘Open Session’
Prize Draw Tickets are still for sale and can be purchased through Pets As Therapy
PLEASE RING Kate Jack [Chairman, Highlands, Islands & Grampian Branch] on 01463 241865
Artist & Author Paul Taggart produces on-the-spot watercolour montage of views around Dornoch, Highlands of Scotland in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support
Although the morning was kind to us, lashing rain proved challenging in the afternoon. However, we all soldiered on; the ladies of the Dornoch branch committee proving their commitment to fund-raising, as they continued to accompany me, selling raffle tickets, while I painted on.
Finally we arrived at the Dornoch Castle Hotel, where we were joined by many folk for a delicious afternoon tea of freshly-made strawberry jam and scones.
4.30 was my deadline for finishing the painting and popping it into a frame for the raffle draw at 5pm. The winner, to everyone’s delight was Simon Thomson of the Castle Hotel.
This event was organised as part of my fund-raising project in support of Macmillan Cancer Support, Dornoch branch, for the current Highlands Appeal.
For more information to the background of this event and further details on the two fund-raising limited edition prints –
“Lone Piper” and “Christmas Bells”
please scroll down to the relevant sections in this Newsletter.
Check out my Work In Progress Gallery and Limited Edition Prints Gallery for details of these two paintings……………simply click on the Paul’s Gallery button above to be taken to the main gallery section.
Artist & Author Paul Taggart at Collieston Gala August 1 & 2, produces on-the-spot painting in aid of Collieston & Slains Community Trust.
ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR PAINTING WON BY FAMILY ON THE MOVE TO AUSTRALIA
Not much luck on the weather front for this weekend, which had been spent at Collieston, where, once again I was working out of doors.
Imagine if you will a howling easterly gale, blowing straight at us off the sea. All of the gala activities were decamped from the harbour walls into the marquee erected on the cliff top, at the entrance to this one-time fishing village, a few miles north of Aberdeen.
Having found a relatively sheltered spot down by the harbour in the morning, I started the first of the five views to form the watercolour montage for the fund-raising raffle. Picture this, my easel tethered with rope and stakes,
Eileen grimly hanging onto an umbrella held over the painting – for it was the painting we needed to protect, whilst Eileen and I simply bore the brunt of the lashing rain. This was the first of the two days and we soldiered on, until it simply got too much to bear sometime mid-afternoon – when we beat a hasty retreat into the comfort of the Ritchie dining room, from where I painted a view overlooking the harbour.
We were there to support one of our longest-standing friends, fellow artist and master etcher Paul Ritchie. Paul and his father, Rear Admiral Steve Ritchie, host an annual fund-raising exhibition that benefits restoration of the harbour walls and their continued upkeep. Paul and I were at Art College together and, once again, I was delighted to accept their invitation to take along my paints and easel for this event that takes place on the final weekend of the week-long Collieston Gala.
Thankfully the second day brought with it the sun and I was able to continue by the harbour wall, finishing the five views in time for the late afternoon raffle draw – which realised more than £400 in raffle ticket sales. And, as luck would have it, the painting was won by the Kirks, a South African family, who were reluctantly leaving their home in Collieston, for Australia, where their work was taking them. In fact, it was the son, ten-year old Duncan who had pestered his father for tickets and there was much debate as to who could lay claim to it! Judging by the photograph, Duncan is in no doubt that it is he – while Paul Ritchie (far left) and his father Steve Ritchie (next to him) were just pleased it had gone to a family who had become well respected in the community, knowing that they would treasure the memories evoked by the painting.
‘LONE PIPER’ Fund-Raising Limited Edition Print raises over £5,000 so far for Macmillan Cancer Support
The picturesque Scottish Highlands cathedral town of Dornoch prides itself on its community spirit, at both the personal and business level – this painting celebrates one aspect of that sense of community – the Dornoch Pipe Band and the tradition of the lone piper on the turret of the Castle Hotel, so enjoyed by residents and international visitors.
Another aspect of Dornoch’s community spirit is that of giving, with year- round fund-raising for all manner of worthy causes – including the invaluable work carried out in support of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Dornoch branch of Macmillan Cancer Support fund-raisers is chaired by Barbara Morrison of John Grant & Sons, seen here with the lone piper himself -Willie Fraser, Pipe Major of Dornoch Pipe Band - at the launch of the 'Lone Piper' fund-raising Limited Edition Print.
It gives me the greatest pleasure to have dedicated the full one hundred copies of this Limited Edition Print to this exceptional cause. As each framed copy is sold, in the ‘Lone Piper’ edition of one hundred prints, £80 has been passed over to the Dornoch Branch of fund-raisers to add to the current Highland Appeal.
Every print is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the Lone Piper and Paul Taggart.
“Christmas Bells” – view of Dornoch specifically painted by Paul Taggart for Macmillan Cancer Support
Although I had been unable to commit as much time to my easel as planned for 2008, this was one of the two paintings I was absolutely determined to complete - come what may. In 2007 I made a pledge to Barbara Morrison, Chairman of the Dornoch branch of Macmillan Cancer Support - to produce a companion to ‘Lone Piper’, for their continuous fund-raising efforts on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. However the subject matter needed careful consideration and, as in most cases these days, it came as a gift.
Christmas morning 2006; we had stayed with friends the night before and all four of us emerged from their front door to the view of Dornoch cloaked in a beautiful crisp shimmering frost. The sun-kissed cathedral glowing against the rainbow colours of the cloudless sky. We continued round to the dunes for a walk through a landscape that crackled underfoot and glistened as the sun’s rays glinted off the sugar-icing frosting that drenched absolutely everything in sight.
Which is how “Christmas Bells” came to be – a view from the doorstep of the Old Police Station in Dornoch looking up towards where the “Lone Piper” plays in the companion painting - two views from opposite directions.
Once again, the entire edition of 100 prints is dedicated to raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and £80 is passed over to the Dornoch branch from every print sold.
To date over £6,000 has been handed over from the sales of this print and its companion “Lone Piper”.
Each print is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Paul Taggart.
Fund-Raising Project for Highland Hospice kicks off with "Winter Solstice" Limited Edition Print by Artist & Author Paul Taggart
an uplifting view that warms the heart as the sun sets on this exceptional winter’s day
Although I had been unable to commit as much time to my easel in 2008, this was one of the two paintings I was absolutely determined to complete - come what may. In July 2007 we welcomed to our home for lunch three dedicated folk, David Welch, Director of Fundraising and Communications for Highland Hospice, along with Sandy and Barbara Morrison (John Grant & Sons, Dornoch), to go through our proposal in support of Sandy Morrison’s commitment to Highland Hospice.
At that point we knew the choice of subject would have to be very carefully considered and would probably take some time to manifest itself. After which it would take some while to produce the oil painting. Patience was therefore going to be required until such time as things could be moved forward. We did however have the end of 2008 in mind as the ultimate goal for the completion of the painting and to our delight it has turned out that way. All thanks to a last minute trip to Inverness for various bits’n’bobs, before we set off for our 2007 Christmas trip south of the border to visit various friends and family.
We have two favourite routes back to our home, one goes through what we call the magic woods, a route saved for twilight and deep night time, so that our car headlights can pick out the lichen draped trees. The other goes through a tiny hamlet and past a glorious Highland loch, where thousands of whooper swans and geese settle after their migration from the far North.
It was three-thirty in the afternoon as we drove along the single track road, past various cottages and the paddock in which miniature horses graze, over the steep humpy back bridge with the sharp bend left and on a bit. That is when we spotted the full moon in the cloudless sky over the other side of the loch and stopped the car.
The day was golden with the slowly setting sun. Streaming in from the right of the view it clothed the bales of hay in the field immediately in front of us and picked out the delicate tracery of the frosted stalks and weeds, which so resembled lace-work. The frozen mirrored surface of the loch had been slowly melting all day, but trees in the shadows were still stiffly white. Two horses grazed contentedly in one of the fields on the opposite shore – and yes – they can be seen in the finished painting!
This was it, the perfect image for Highland Hospice that is now “Winter Solstice”.
I cannot tell you how fulfilling it has been to turn this gift of a scene into a painting that gives me the greatest delight. Although the composition was fairly challenging, the end result has been worth the effort.
It gives me the greatest pleasure to dedicate this Limited Edition Print to Sandy Morrison for this exceptional cause. As each framed copy is sold, in the ‘Winter Solstice’ edition of one hundred prints, £80 will be passed over to Highland Hospice.
On Thursday July 23rd, Artist & Author Paul Taggart, will be out and about in Dornoch, Northern Highlands of Scotland, producing a winning watercolour painting, all in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Paul will be hard at work at his easel from 9 o’clock in the morning, until 4.30 in the afternoon, moving from place to place, as he captures at least five different views in one large montage.
The first image to be painted will be Dornoch Cathedral. After an hour Paul will pack up his paints, sling his easel on to his back and move on to the next view, the choice of which will be weather dependent. Details of where he is throughout the day will be posted on the notice-board in John Grant & Sons and in the bar of the Dornoch Castle Hotel, as Paul moves around.
“As you can imagine, I was delighted when Barbara Morrison, Chairman of the Dornoch branch of Macmillan Cancer Support and her fellow committee members added this event to their schedule of fund-raisers for 2009”, says Paul.
“Even more so when they wondered if my day’s painting could be rounded off with an Afternoon Tea at the Dornoch Castle Hotel, where my two fund-raising prints are on permanent display. So it was pleasing for all concerned that Colin and Ros Thompson readily agreed to join in with our fund-raising efforts on the day.”
Paul aims to end up in the gardens of the Dornoch Castle Hotel to start work on the final image at 3.30, where Afternoon Tea is available for anyone who would like to watch him as he paints, or for that matter, have a natter while he wields his brushes.
4.30 is the deadline for finishing the painting, popping it into a frame and taking it over to John Grant & Sons where the raffle draw is to take place at 5pm and the winner gets to take the painting home.
Raffle tickets will be on sale throughout the day wherever Paul has pitched his easel, accompanied by one of the Macmillan Cancer Support Dornoch branch committee members; as well as in John Grant & Sons and the Dornoch Castle Hotel.
“People are always fascinated by watching an artist at his easel and as always, it will give me the greatest pleasure to share my passion for painting and I will be delighted to answer occasional questions.
When completed, the painting will be mounted and framed and could be won by anyone wishing to purchase raffle tickets – the entire proceeds from which will go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Barbara & Sandy Morrison have very kindly supported my two fund-raising prints of Dornoch, ‘Lone Piper’ and ‘Christmas Bells, which have already realised over £6,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Additionally, members of the Dornoch branch committee, chaired by Barbara Morrison, have always worked their socks off selling sackfuls of raffle tickets resulting in large amounts of monies raised.
Once again, everyone is very generously backing this event for a cause that is so well supported by the community at large.“
‘Lone Piper’ and ‘Christmas Bells’ have proved very popular as commemorative gifts, for special occasions such as significant birthdays and wedding anniversaries, with well over £6,000 raised so far through sales of the prints alone, in support of the Dornoch branch of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Although framed copies of each of the two prints will be available on the day, full details of the ‘Lone Piper’ and ‘Christmas Bells’ fund-raising prints can always be found at John Grant & Sons and the Dornoch Castle Hotel, where they are currently on display.
Limited to only one hundred copies, each print is numbered and signed by Paul Taggart and comes mounted and framed at a cost of £265, with £80 from each print sale going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Every print is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity and can be ordered through this website.
Final preparations for Afternoon Tea at the Dornoch Castle Hotel on July 23rd with [from left] Ros Thompson (Dornoch Castle Hotel), Barbara Morrison (Chairman of Dornoch branch of Macmillan Cancer Support), Artist & Author Paul Taggart, Colin Thompson (Dornoch Castle Hotel) with Paul Taggart’s fund-raising limited edition print “Christmas Bells”.
Renowned Scottish fiddler Bruce Macgregor's Bogbain Farm Traditional Music Open Sessions draw Artist & Author Paul Taggart for on-the-spot paintings.
Master fiddler, Bruce MacGregor, is the founder and driving force behind the multi award winning Blazin’ Fiddles. Along with his musician/composer wife Liza Mulholland they are the directors of Bogbain Farm, a buzzing visitor centre south of Inverness, Highlands of Scotland.
Taught by the late master, Donald Riddell, this renowned Highland fiddler not only tours as a musician, but his composing skills have seen his work commissioned for TV, radio and stage and his deep love for traditional music has also been harnessed for presenting TV and radio programmes.
Bogbain Farm is run by Bruce and Liza, who have progressively developed the Bogbain Highland Market (restaurant, farm and gift shops), started in late 2006 and in 2007 won “Best New Business” at the Highland Food and Drink Awards . In December 2007 the overall facility won “Best New Business” at the Highland Tourism Awards.
Music is very much an integral part of Bogbain, which hums to the sound of concerts, open sessions and ceilidhs on a frequent basis
A growing collection of Paul Taggart watercolour studies capturing the regular Open Sessions and Concerts at Bogbain, is progressively building up and on display in the Bogbain Bistro - where they hang alongside various other musical memorabilia, attesting to the traditional music vein that runs throughout Bogbain.
Open Sessions always take place on a Sunday in the Bogbain Bistro, with musicians and singers striking up from 3pm onwards. Lunches are served from 1pm and everyone is welcome to come along to enjoy an afternoon of traditional music making from Bruce Macgregor (on fiddle) and fellow musicians, such as those featured in ‘ Paul Taggart’s painting Their Musical Heritage Shared’.
“Over the last few sessions I have been setting up my easel to paint the musicians as they play and sing. Once finished, these are framed and hung alongside various concert posters and musical instruments that adorn the walls of the bistro at Bogbain” ……… explains Paul.
“Setting up my easel before a Bogbain session is always a thrill. I am particularly aware that the time available to capture the atmosphere is going to be limited. As the musicians arrive - I never know how many – I try to position myself for the best angle.; progressively getting closer and closer so that during the last session I was right in amongst the action.
The music starts and my brush gets going. There is no doubt that the music directly affects my painting. I feel my body pick up the beat and the rhythms, which run out along my finger and into the paint. I feel that my being there also affects the performance. Musicians are used to their work being captured on CD, tape and photograph, but not many have been painted while playing.
Time disappears and we are carried along on a creative high. I know that people are watching my painting develop as well as listening to the music but I am encapsulated in a world of sound. When the music stops and the image is finished I feel as drained and satisfied as the musicians themselves.
I always ask the players to sign their respective images and I am always pleased and surprised that they are willing to do so.
For me, the finished sketch is a moment in time in which we have all shared and a record of our collective enjoyment.”
OPEN SESSIONS DATES [July : August] – Sunday July 12 & 26 : August 9 & 30
FOR EVENING CONCERT DATES – check details on www.bogbainfarm.com
FOR DETAILS ON BRUCE MACGREGOR - check out www.myspace.com/brucemacgregorfiddle
Miniature oil painting of Arbroath Smokies is latest addition to Artist & Author Paul Taggart's Heritage Collection.
“Iain’s Auchmithie Legacy”
OILS ON GESSO PANEL
ORIGINAL PAINTING SOLD
Smoked fish is of course synonymous with Scotland and apart from the ubiquitous smoked salmon, another form of smoked haddock is attracting attention from far and wide – one that has been protected for future generations through the passionate intervention of the Spink family, who pursued Protected Geographical Indication status for the process.
We first heard of Iain Spink, the multi-award-winning producer of ‘Arbroath Smokies’ on the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, when he won the coveted BBC Radio Food Producer of the Year in 2006. Having watched Iain smoking his fish at the Highland Field Sports Fair in 2007, I had included his image as part of the commemorative oil painting and Limited Edition Print of the proceedings at Moy, although I didn’t get a chance to actually speak to him on that occasion.
Last year however, we finally got the opportunity to introduce ourselves and discuss the possibility of doing a dedicated painting as part of my intended Heritage Collection. A little while later Iain popped in to see us with a suggestion. How would I feel if he were to set up the whole process for me in the fishing cove of Auchmithie, where the Arbroath Smokie originated?
Which is how, on a late November day, we found ourselves driving hundreds of miles down the east coast of Scotland to the remote fishing village of Auchmithie, immediately north of Arbroath.
The designated morning did not auger well, with lashing rain and a bitterly cold wind, but there was no turning back, especially as Iain had given up his precious time for me. As we approached Arbroath the weather slowly began to change and to our joy on reaching Auchmithie the rain had ceased, with the sun dramatically breaking through the clouds. The cove is relatively small, protected by high rising sandstone cliffs; typical of this stretch of the east coast of Scotland. I knew the sun would soon be skimming the water as it worked its way behind the cliffs, to disappear from view. Time was not on our side and this was no mean process for Iain to set up. Happily there were a few boats resting on the pebbled beach and Iain’s father had very kindly let Iain bring along some of his collection of antique baskets, nets and knives with which the fishwives originally prepared the smokies. So, while Iain made his initial preparations I set up a couple of still-life possibilities for another miniature to add at a later date and another story to tell.
Iain’s passion for his family’s heritage in the fishing industry is infectious, which goes a long way to explaining his commitment to keeping this unique tradition and process of Arbroath Smokies alive. We very much looked forward to capturing the whole process from beginning to end and were fascinated as Iain went about his work, just as the fishwives did in the 1800’s.
I had been really looking forward to this painting and already had a strong impression of the image in my mind’s eye before we even visited the cove at Auchmithie. However, on arriving I soon realised that the successful outcome of the composition would demand a combination of landscape, portrait and still-life painting. After taking careful note of the salting, preparation and smoking of the fish, it became obvious that to encompass the entire process within a miniature, would require careful planning out and positioning of the various elements.
To this end the various effects of light and atmospheric perspective were brought into play. Glazes and tints became essential tools in creating the effects that would render them natural elements within the scene. Note how the smoke is used to separate the fish awaiting the smoking process, from the two beached boats behind them. The finished painting is one of the most complex I have had to achieve in the Heritage Collection thus far.
See the original in my Work In Progress Gallery