Driving down American highways, I rarely (if ever) stop and pull off to the side of the road, thinking, “I’ve gotta take a photo of this scene!” I mean, what are we going to photograph?…a Wendy’s? Indiana corn fields?…maybe. Blue Ridge Mountains?…okay, I have stopped to photograph that. Perhaps I’m just too used to American scenery. And, having grown up in a large family where we drove cross-country twice a year, I’m very familiar with the landscape rolling past my car window.
Then you get to Scotland. People who haven’t been there don’t really believe me, but the scenery seems to change every 10 feet! Part of that is the lighting. Clouds rolling across a blue sky, skimming cobwebs of shadow and light over highland hills. Part of it is the stone walls. Rocks dug from earth to make way for farms and homes. Too many rocks with no place to put them. So, what to they do? They build rugged walls and homes out of stones pried from the yard. Part of it is the coastline. Having grown up on the south-east coast, I’ve always been a sucker for water (sorry, not Lake Michigan…but brackish water, oceans, seas). And a majority of Scotland is coastline.
Well, Mom and I were driving along the coast of Mull back in 2016 and passed these abandoned boats. I pulled off to the shoulder and walked back with my camera to take a closer look. This painting is from one of the photos taken that day. I’m not sure what the story is behind these beauties. Mom’s probably researched it by now and found out. But what amazes me (and is typical of Scotland) is that no one has defaced or damaged their remains. They lean, one against the other, with a few old tires strewn nearby. Quiet, weathered, serene. Abandoned yet not really alone…because people stop regularly to visit and photograph (simply Google “Abandoned Boats, Mull” and you’ll find TONS of photos from people who were just as attracted to them as we were). Sorry to say that in America it’s hard to find abandoned beauty like this that hasn’t been tattooed with graffiti from at least one stray spray can. I was driving down a highway near my house just last week and saw a cool 1960’s VW van with rust and grass growing up around it…and grafitti all over it. That’s one of the things I appreciate most about Scotland: that people there tend to care more about preservation than littering and destruction. Our large land-mass takes too many things for granted. Those little British Isles don’t.
About the Artwork:
This was started over a year ago as an oil painting demo for my Painting 2 class. It sat, half-finished for a year until I taught another oil class this spring. I like the pale aqua and greys balanced by pops of rusty-red. I don’t work in oils often, but I actually prefer that medium for scenes like this one. Oil works well when texturing the ground or blending light and form in the wooden beams of the boats. Here’s a shot of the finished piece framed and hanging on my reclaimed wood wall. I may change the frame. But I like it hanging against the wood back-drop.