Sunday, June 24, 2018

Nearing the End of the Scottish Adventure

Stromness Harbour 5x7 gouache
by Michael Chesley Johnson

Set up painting on the street, and you can bet you’ll be asked a few questions. Invariably, while on this trip in Scotland, I have been asked if I’m painting in watercolor. When I respond that I’m painting in gouache, I expect puzzlement, but strangely, that has not been the case. When I start to explain that gouache is a form of opaque watercolor, I get an immediate nod of understanding. “Oh, yes, I can see that now, “ said one gentleman as he took a closer look.

One of my readers has asked to see a photo of my setup for this trip. I did post a short essay on it before I left (which you can read here), but now that I have been painting with it in the field for three weeks, I have pared things down. The photo shows my basic kit: 15-pan Caran D’Ache set, a Pentalic watercolor journal (140lb paper), a trimmed-down yogurt container for my water plus a strong magnet to hold it tight to the gouache kit’s metal lid, a couple of clamps, plus a French easel palette to clip everything to--and that’s it. It’s a small bundle I can carry in one hand anywhere. I do usually stuff it in my backpack, as I bring along a few other items: a short roll of paper towels, a few watercolor pencils, a gardener’s foam knee pad to sit on, plus water to drink and snacks. And, of course, a poncho in case things turn wet.

And it has indeed turned wet! We’ve had beautiful, sunny moments in Orkney, but we’ve also had the equally-beautiful smattering of drizzle and mist. I did not come to Scotland for sun but for the Scottish mood, and I am enjoying all of it. The other day, when it was blowing particularly hard and wet--a steady, 50 mile-an-hour wind--we took the foot ferry over to the Island of Hoy to hike and explore. Our 6-mile round trip to the Old Man of Hoy took us past ruined stone cottages, over boggy heath and onto particularly wind-pummelled hilltops, but it was a perfect time.

Now we have one day left in Stromness, followed tomorrow by a flight to Glasgow and one night there before flying back to Halifax, and then the drive to Campobello Island. Although I plan to write up more thoughts on this trip, when I get home I’ll be quite busy with workshops, articles to write and, of course, some Scotland paintings to paint for the trip’s patrons!

The basic kit.  How much simpler can you get?
I have used only about half the colors in this set.













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