One of the great things about having a customer ask for a commission is that the request often pushes me to explore a topic or place that I hadn’t thought of, or tried to paint before.
Earlier this year, I was asked by clients to paint a scene of the Gauldrons, near Machrihanish — a place very dear to them. I hadn’t even heard about this amazing stretch of coastline. Once I saw some online photos of it, I was stoked to visit.
You can park not far from the beach at the Gauldrons, but you need to hike around to see it all properly. When I visited in February, I began to imagine what a painting of the beach and coastline might look like. The early spring light over the Mull of Kintyre comes in at a very low angle, however, and the bay wasn’t lit up like I imagined it would be later in the year. Nevertheless, there were knockout views everywhere of rocky surf and the sea stretching out to Islay and Ireland.
The weather was sunny, but with frosty, cool winds whipping up from the sea, as I clambered up the slopes above the bay looking for good perspectives. Turning my attention uphill, I saw sheep grazing, and the ancient stone walls that lace all the pastures of Kintyre. The hills were lit with golden light stretching away into the horizon. I couldn’t wait to return in a month or so to confirm my idea about the later spring light above the bay and the Mull.
What a nice find — like going to a thrift shop hoping for a vintage flannel shirt, but a great old model sailboat appears! Sometimes, I find unexpected clues while doing detective work for a painting location, and this felt like the perfect example of that phenomenon.
Back in the studio, I did a quick thumbnail sketch (2.5 x 3.5 inches) to test my composition idea. The six by six inch oil painting, “Early Spring Grazing” is the unexpected turn from a great day hiking along the Gauldrons.