Monday, 27 June 2016

Water colours and watercolours

Iona has long been a magnet for artists; indeed it's perfectly possible to imagine how the monks of the Abbey could have gained inspiration for their work illuminating manuscripts from the unique and special light of the island.

In particular Iona has become known for watercolours painted by artists from the "Scottish Colourists" movement including Francis Cadell who had a long association with the island, and Samuel Peploe, who was first introduced to Iona by Cadell and became a regular visitor.

As Douglas has noted, Colourist paintings of Iona became very popular in the second half of the 20th century, and the tradtion of both painting and appreciating views from the cluster of beaches at the north tip continues......

This large watercolour by Jan Fisher is just such a work. When we saw it displayed at her gallery in the Fife village of Pittenweem some years ago it had such impact that we returned an hour later to purchase a limited print - it's hung in one of the lightest rooms in our home in order to show the colour to its best and has, in our view, captured the essence of Iona's light and colour.

In the upper part of the painting, set in the sea between Iona and the hills of Mull, is Eilean Annraidh with its distinctive spit of white sand.  

Approaching Eilean Annraidh was to understand why artists are drawn to the place - the quality of light was astonishing.  A dramatic banner of cloud streaming from Ben More on Mull added a huge dimension of sky, and itself altered the light as the aftenoon sun was alternately filtered through cloud.....

...and then shone fully, changing the colours in the water from turquoise to an iridescent jade green and lighting the sand to a dazzling intensity. 

Here, solas (light) reached a pitch rarely encountered and after landing on the inner part of the sand bar in order not to disturb a nearby Tern colony, we just wandered about separately, taking it in.

Beyond Eilean Annraidh lay a widescreen view to the "Wilderness" coast of Mull's Ardmeanach peninsula  which we discussed for a future visit........ we sat on the rocks of Eilean Annraidh enjoying the watercolour water colours.....


  1. Such a gorgeous painting! Beautiful photos.

  2. It's easy to feel the warmth of the sunshine, over those turquoise waters...not unlike the paddling day we all shared off Arisaig. Excellent Ian, really excellent. Warm wishes.

  3. Thanks D & J, it really was a memorable day's paddle :o)

    Warm wishes

  4. Although I've been there I didn't do it justice, camera wise. Great photographs of the light and colour.

    1. Thanks Bob - we were really lucky with the weather