If ever one needed to clear one’s head, the northeast of Scotland is a good place to come. The wind will clear the cobwebs in no time!
This week I went down to Inverness to get an MOT (annual roadworthiness certificate) on the car. There was a call back on this make of car because of a faulty airbag, but a couple of other things also needed fixing. It meant spending a day in the city, but I didn’t mind. There was plenty to do. Later in the evening, on returning to the northeast, the wind started to pick up and the rain was falling heavily. By the time I got home and stepped out of the car it was all I could do to stay upright as I ran to the house, fighting the bracing wind.
On my arrival home, It was so dark, and I forgot about some of the paint pails left outside of the studio. I got ready for bed and took a while to sleep with the wind howling around the house. I imagine it was about 50mph gusts - the first really strong winds of the season. In the morning, when things had calmed somewhat, I went out to check the state of affairs and was surprised to see that nothing had blown away — not too far at least.
This last week has definitely seen a marked change in the temperatures and wind - one is dropping lower, the other is picking up. It’s time to pull out the woollies. I need to invest in more woollies, that’s for sure, along with waterproofs. Anything to make the coming months a bit more cozy, a bit more ‘do-able’. I’m grateful to a local friend for the lovely wrist warmers she knitted so beautifully for me. Those will certainly get a lot of wear. For some reason, any jumper I buy seems to have shorter sleeves for my long arms, and wrist warmers are just the thing to ‘mind the gap’ and block out further cold.
It's not always easy to capture wind in a 2D image, not least that your camera might be flown out of your hands while trying! I took this photo a week or so ago, when things were still fairly calm. I love the copper colour of these grasses in the autumn, and how the wind creates interesting waves and movement.
It is not until you see the effect of wind on an object that you know it is there. Or it is a felt thing.
When it comes to a painting or photograph, wind is shown and known differently.
I’m paraphrasing an art historian here, but August Renoir’s aim in this painting, Gust of Wind, was not so much to create an accurate representation of the landscape, but to convey the sensual pleasures of the outdoors and to capture the most unpaintable elements: air. Our eyes are drawn to the movement of the trees, bushes & the racing clouds in the sky, all achieved by the seemingly simple act of blurring the paint.
Gust of Wind, Renoir
The Scottish painter, Joan Eardley, made a switch from portraiture to landscapes after spending time on the north-east coast of Scotland while recovering from an illness. 'On hearing that a storm was approaching, she would catch the next train from Glasgow to Stonehaven, and make the rest of the journey to Catterline.
There she created her elemental panoramas of land and sea in thickly textured paint, working outdoors and securing the huge boards she used with ropes and boulders' (National Galleries, Scotland).
Breaking Wave, Eardley
During these night winds, while lying in my bed, there is an initial feeling of nervousness. It sounds as though the remaining northern trees might be whipped out of the ground or the house is going to spin away in a whirl like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. But to be honest, if anything was to blow away, it would have done so by now.
In the morning, after the wind dies down, having blown this way and that for some time, it is like the earth is on pause, and I get up to greet the new day. I collect the paint buckets from outside, and enter the studio and remember that wind is the most ancient and powerful symbol of inspiration. I hope it can blow some new ideas into my mind and heart as I work.
This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet
Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.
At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up -
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,
The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house
Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,
Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.