Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two Views from a Train

watercolour 18x12cm

It’s February, and we’ve had to be travelling up and down to Perth a lot recently - more than a couple of times on the train. I’m always ready with my little compact camera to snap little bits of interesting sky or scenery, and these two little pieces are my first gatherings from these journeys. It’s quite a pretty route, and of course we go over the Forth Rail Bridge. That’s always a treat, and this year there’s the added bonus of seeing the new Road Bridge being constructed. Well, these aren’t anything to do with them.

The first little watercolour is the view of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth from Burntisland. It’s just about midday and the Sun is shining down through some aerie altocumulus. The tones and colours are just about right but the drawing is not spectacularly accurate, which is a shame. The interesting thing about this is that the bright whites have been made by scouring and scraping the paper back to white. A bit brutally in this case, but as I said before, the tones and colours are just about right.

The second is a view from the train window later on another afternoon, featuring the Lomond Hills. I think we were just north of Ladybank. The Lomond Hills are quite a strange grouping, and deceptively low; from the west, passing them on the M90, they loom steeply and dramatically from the flat land around Loch Leven. From the east, though, as here, they just sweep up a bit and consolidate into two round lumps. West Lomond, the highest of the pair, can be seen peeking above the Ochil Hills from the north, and is eagerly anticipated by the simple traveller as a mighty peak to be wondered at as he drives southward, towards inevitable disappointment. Actually it was the intense blue light in the clouds which I was after in this one, which has proved elusive. I’ve never been fond of the way that Ultramarine watercolour granulates on the paper, but I do quite like the texture here of the wintry trees and bushes in the foreground. I’m sure that should I re-interpret this idea with oily paint I would make a better fist of it, but at present I’m trying to catch up with my (rather neglected) watercolour technique.

And, of course, it’s February. Never really liked February…