Friday 2 March 2012

Painting Scotland by Rail - Sponsored by ScotRail

Since 2008 I've been working on a long-term project to explore Scotland by rail. As part of this my artworks have been exhibited at various railway-related events across the country. The sponsorship of railway operator ScotRail is absolutely invaluable to me in continuing this project.

I hope that my railway travels and the resulting drawings and paintings will encourage others to explore Scotland for themselves. Train is a great way to travel. It gives access to a wealth of wonderful landscapes and there's nothing quite as relaxing as sitting by the window and watching the world trundle past.

 view from a window, on the Glasgow - Stranraer line, pencil on paper, 15x21cm

It's fun to write a list of all the birds seen on a journey and really satisfying to make quick sketches out the window. There's only a second or two before the object or scene has been passed and memory and artistic license have to kick-in. Some of these quick window sketches of mine have been used to create often much larger finished paintings back in the studio.

cottage remains, steep forest clearing south-east of Elgin, pencil on card, 10x11cm

 For those who commute - travelling a route regularly needn't make it boring, in fact quite the opposite. I now know to look for that clifftop herd of bison on the approach to Aberdeen, or those small ponds on the right between Falkirk High and Croy where mallards and tufted ducks swim and you sometimes see a few teal that have flown in to join them. Or south-east of Elgin the remains of a cottage among stumps of felled trees - what family or railway worker once lived there?


In these postings I'm going to write about days out I've had along Scottish railway lines. Looking initially at the West Highland Lines from Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig I'll describe walks walked and wildlife watched. I'll mention interesting historic sites and probably wont be able to resist telling you about some of the cafes I visit... I do hope that you too will be inspired to get out on the trains and start to explore Scotland by rail.

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