Must Paint Scot

Sunny East Lothian and the iconic Bass Rock paintings

The Bass Rock

With some Bass Rock paintings in mind, it was a winter’s day in East Lothian but fine enough for a stroll along the shore at North Berwick. The merlin in the picture below caught my eye as he pursued a rock pipit. It came out of the blue. He didn’t catch the wee bird but nonetheless I thought he should put in an appearance in the composition.

The Bass Rock, of course, is very much a landmark in East Lothian. It’s a volcanic plug, as most everyone knows, and matches the Berwick Law that rises behind the resort town of North Berwick.

The town itself is worth a look at any time of year and is popular with Edinburgh folk keen to sniff the sea air. There are cafes, galleries and other nice shops and the place has an altogether comfortable and well-to-do air. It even has a rail connection with Edinburgh.

Bass Rock paintings -and this one has a merlin as well!
Bass Rock and Merlin

Bass Rock Paintings

As for the Bass Rock paintings, the one above was done at a time when I’d moved on from water-colour – too nerve-wracking, to be honest – and started to use gouache. It’s more forgiving, as the colours are opaque and this means you can paint over mistakes! What, me? Surely not…

I’d soaked the paper first, then let it dry and pasted it down with that brown paper tape with the odd taste if you lick it to wet it. (Wait, too much information, I fear.) Consequently, the original has a brown strip on all four sides that does absolutely nothing for it, so has been cropped out in the quality giclée print you’d get if you fancied buying it…

Bass Rock from St Baldred’s Cradle, near Tynninghame

Bass Rock from St Baldred’s Cradle

This is acrylic and acrylic gouache throughout of a low-tide scene. More exactly speaking the angle is just immediately to the west of the rocky platform marked as St Baldred’s Cradle on the OS maps. (St Baldred originally came from Lindisfarne in England but has other geographical features named after him in East Lothian.)

Fidra from the shore by Yellowcraig, East Lothian

Winter Light – Fidra

Fidra, from the Old Norse for ‘feather island’ is an RSPB bird reserve. It is said to have inspired the map for Robert Louis Stevenson’s work ‘Treasure Island’. (But then, there are other claimants!)

This is gouache – handy for stopping the blue shades and the yellow-ish shades from doing their own thing – which mostly means muddy greens if you’re not careful.

Tour East Lothian to see the views painted here.