Ghosts of Summer
Spirit of The Highlands Collection
Paul Taggart Masterworks
Oils on Gesso'd Wood Panel
Available for Private Purchase : POA
This original Masterworks oil painting is exclusively available for purchase through Paul Taggart’s studio. If you are interested in discussing a possible purchase please click here to message us privately and we will be pleased to make contact to take it from there.
Frame Size (outer) 136cm[w] x 63cm[h]
FRAME - Hand-made by Frinton Frames. 120mm wide frame. Featuring several, ornate, running patterns with corner decoration of Agapanthus leaves – gesso covered moulding, white base hand-painted with red & green highlights, +light pale gold highlights, finished with light grey wash. Inner slip-edge finished in cream.
“This oil painting is one of my favourites and holds pride of place in our studio; for it reminds us of one of those magical moments in life, an unexpected discovery; one filled with multi-sensory memories of a late Summer/early Autumn day. As soon as I saw this view, I knew I wanted to capture this otherwise unseen riverscape. Yet what a task, but such challenges are what draw me to complex subjects in which light is the primary force. This was going to take all of my knowledge of how light behaves and my method built on traditional painting techniques to capture.
SUBJECT – I titled this painting ‘Ghosts of Summer’, for the subject is evocative of the elements on that day – dappling light through the leaves on the trees and vegetation, seeming to filter through the leaves themselves, turning them semi-transparent as their various green Summer colours slowly diminish in ghostly anticipation of their Autumnal change.
The ‘ghostly’ sound of rippling water and trickling falls as the river meanders down from its source in the Highland hills to the North Sea below; which we can still hear quite clearly as we look up from our work in the studio to where this painting sits on its display easel.
It brings to mind the first sounds that enticed us to explore further, to take a break from one of our rambles over a friend’s estate in the Northern Highlands of Scotland. We simply couldn’t resist following the tinkling and gushing sounds of water, having to crouch down on hands and knees to break through the dense foliage, as there was no easy route through to where we finally emerged. What a view, it took our breath away, as we emerged on the rocky foreshore of the river.
COMPOSITION - To fully capture the nature and life-force of the river and set it in context required a somewhat unusual compositional approach - there was nothing for it, I had to work on a panoramic scale. The wide view this demanded created a narrow composition in which I knew it would be difficult to create vertical depth - the answer lay in both linear and aerial perspective.
The scene comprises four principal compositional elements - river, rocks, forest and light - every one forceful and vital in its own right, whilst all equally important in knitting together to form a cohesive and harmonious scene - all 'held' in place in an oval lens of light.
For the dynamic result I sought, it was crucial to have the river coming into view around the bend in the distance, tumbling down towards us, sweeping past, before then veering off and away into the distance again - not on a level, but on a downward path and across the full width of the painting.
As the river traverses the scene it moves through deep shadows and splashing sunlight. What is more, the nature of the moving water changes in so many different ways - from a mere trickle to a tumbling gushing force.
Notice how the rocks, although variable shapes and sizes, nevertheless all move toward a similar vanishing point, to the left of centre. I made this vanishing point the same as that of the light, so that shadows generally move in this same direction.
This dynamic movement of shapes and light draws the eye across the water, creating depth. Balancing light against dark and areas of softness against sharp focus does the rest, although this was done gradually over the whole of the painting process.
The figure was extremely important, not only as a focal point, but also to give scale to the rocks and the panoramic vista. This alone took months of intensive working and re-working to achieve the balance between figure and landscape. Unlike a portrait, the figure could not be afforded too much attention,
otherwise it was in danger of detracting from the composition - even though the sunlight through her hair was a delight to paint!
Even something as simple as the sky seen through the forest was filled with complexity. Note how it changes colour from the yellow of sunlight to the blue of late summer, as it weaves between tree, branch and leaf - the source of light, both warm and cool, being crucial in its correct rendition.
METHOD & TECHNIQUE - the traditional techniques I employ in my oil paintings involve a succession of layers. There is absolutely no rushing this process, it requires meticulous attention and considerable patience; for the paint surface must be discovered and explored - it cannot be contrived.
With each layer the overall colour and balance across the entire painting is refined, in order that I can achieve the impression of space and light which I am aiming for. Layering is essential - it allows the initial build-up of texture through to the finer layers of glazes and tints. Not only this, it allows the gradual build-up of colours, from dark to light and the finishing touches of absolute highlights.
This is what makes painting particularly exciting for me and especially so in using traditional techniques. The result is almost inevitably a discovery, an unexpected delight that can be exploited and it is this element of the unexpected that drives me to push the limits of my work.
As always, we thank you for reading and watching, with best wishes from Eileen and myself,”
Artist : Author : Presenter : Producer