What to do when you were hoping to paint the landscape on location but it’s blowing a hoolie, raining horizontally and the mountains are having a duvet day, as we say here on the West Coast?
Perhaps you have an injury or disability which prevents you from walking far, or you just don’t fancy sitting on uneven rocks or damp grass. Heaven forbid, the midges might even be out.
But the scenery is out there, right?
One solution is to bring a little bit of it inside.
Yes, you could paint from a photo. Or far better, from one of your sketches, and there is certainly a place for that. But if what you are looking for is immersion in the landscape along with the attendant smells, colours and textures then sometimes using found objects is the next best thing.
In even the worst weather the Highlands can throw at us, wrapping up warm and dry and venturing out looking for something interesting to paint can be an enjoyable and productive exercise. The beaches in the woods have such an uncountable array of different sized, coloured and patterned stones that your main problem will be how to carry them all home (and then back again, of course: long-term, they belong on the beach). Blackberries in autumn; the broken shells of sea urchins dropped by gulls and handfuls of brilliant green moss can all be brought inside and studied in detail, used as the subject for an experimental exercise (perhaps one of my ‘tasks’) or as a starting point for an expressive abstract.
How about inserting them into a landscape or seascape from one of your previous sketches, creating a new piece?
See how holding the still-wet object transports you straight back to where you found it, and the wonderful views you enjoyed before the clouds came down.
If you travel with Vistas to a mountainous area with an unpredictable climate, I sincerely hope we can get outside and paint every day. But if the weather-gods aren’t on our side, that needn’t stop us. We might become so engrossed in what we’re doing we fail to notice that it’s suddenly cleared up!