Published on 22/07/2015
The unique landscape of the Scottish west coast and its many islands have always attracted me. Each of these islands have their own character and outlook. Over the years I have walked or cycled most of them, from Islay in the Southern Hebrides to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, there is a sense of something different in these islands, the pace of life and the friendly people and their lifestyle.
On the islands you can experience all the seasons in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes. Weather passes quickly and no one day starts or finishes the same as another. The quality of light here is also of a more intense nature, bouncing off a glittering sea, making the colours of the big sky, the machair and mountains seem more alive and complex.
In recent years I have made repeated trips to Islay, Iona, the Uists and Harris. It goes without saying that Iona has always been a favourite with artists and I am no exception. It has those special qualities an artist looks for, colour, light and visual interest. With Mull and the smaller islands as a backdrop, the 'North End' of Iona is a great spot to paint from. Islay is a wilder place with many lonely coastlines to intrigue the painter. Although I spent a good few years on the Isle of Lewis working for the Gaelic drama 'Machair', I never made it down to the string of islands that make up Eriskay, the Uists and Berneray until a couple of years ago. Endless beaches with a mountain backdrop, huge skies and a still vibrant crofting community inspire many of my paintings. From Berneray I can pop over to Harris with its rocky landscapes and white beaches.
Equipped with paints, sketchbooks, sketching easel and camera and the hope of some varied weather, blue skies are lovely but sometimes it's good to have a bit of a storm! I then begin gathering material that I can then take back to my studio. I will walk and cycle the coastlines stopping to sketch and paint on the way. I always visit my favourite painting spots, which are many, but foray into new areas to find the unexpected. I enjoy the whole experience of being there from the amazing birdlife and plants to the ancient remains of past settlements.
Back in the studio I can start distilling my material into a finished work. I prepare my own canvases in order to have a surface which I feel comfortable painting on. Working on several paintings at the one time, it can take a few weeks before I am happy with the final result. Using both palette knives and brushes in a piece and introducing layers of colour and texture as I go helps me recreate that feeling of light and colour from the islands.
Read more about Marion and view her work on Marion Thomson's page.