|Hiking up to the Old Man of Storr. Isle of Skye, 2009|
On July 1st I will be embarking on a multi-faceted solo adventure, not to return to the Pacific Northwest until August 26th. Initially I had intended 4 to 6 weeks for this, but in the reading and the maps and the research it was concluded that this must be treated as though it is the one and only chance I'll have to do it. No toe-dipping, let's give it everything we've got!
The project began as a gathering of photographs and research in order to produce a new body of artwork. My method of travel and discovery is unusual though, and not many would or even could attempt it the way that I do - but I am convinced that many would certainly enjoy reading about it, and travel vicariously along with me. I want to show folks what it's like - to travel all on one's own with a backpack and a tent, to immerse and lose one's self in the landscape and culture so far from home and well off the beaten tourist routes.
Some of these places I hope and plan to get into are quite remote and will necessitate a fair amount of isolation and wild camping. The journey will begin, however, with the first few days in Edinburgh. I'll meet with a couple of good friends who are Edinburgh residents who generously agreed to take me to very worthwhile places within the city that are missed by most tourists. From there, it's a couple of days in Inverness. After that, the journey will get a bit more rugged. I'll camp at Cannich, then walk across Glen Affric, over the western mountains by Kintail to Loch Duich, and across the Skye Bridge to Broadford. I estimate this leg of the journey to take at least 4 days. A couple of days on Skye will be spent, along with a two-day walk and camp up the Trotternish Peninsula to meet the ferry to Harris. I hope to catch the Heb Celt Festival on Lewis, which is celebrating its 20th year.
Beyond that point I am keeping my schedule very open and flexible. I don't want to rent a car unless it's absolutely necessary to reach some of the places I hope to visit. Some of these places include Torridon, Loch Maree, Mull, and Knoydart to name a few. The only other part of this journey that is set in stone is Glasgow and the piping festival. I want to retain a certain amount of agility in this adventure - to get far and away and into places seldom visited by the usual tourist - to slow down, touch each moment, absorb and notice - to linger when drawn to do so, or take a detour to take advantage of an opportunity which might suddenly present itself. Immersion and a good deal of flexibility are key.
What will come of this
During all these wanders and experiences, I will be photographing, field sketching, painting, and writing the whole way through. New bodies of work will come from this - the feather paintings for which I am most known, but also other media and in quite a few cases, mixed media. I'll be keeping a sketch journal throughout this adventure to capture wildlife, villages, scenes and more which I anticipate will be encountered along the way. I've been developing skills with pen and ink, watercolor and colored pencil, often on location, for this purpose.
Upon return of the trip, I will be producing a book - an artist's travel journal - filled with photographs, field sketches, polished art, and literary documentation of the adventure. I intend to utilize every method available to me within its pages in order to really capture the sense of the adventure and present the full picture. I wish to show people what it's like to remove one's self from the tourist treadmill and really experience Scotland's heart and spirit. I hope to have this in print before the next Fèis, and I wish to donate a portion of each sale of this book (which will also be available on Amazon) to Slighe nan Gaidheal in support of its language, music, and cultural education programs.
Another body of artwork I hope to bring about when I am home again involves use of multiple artistic media, and including source water which I will collect with great deliberation, as this water will be used in the depiction of the places where the water was collected. Imagine a painting of the mighty Liathach which uses water from the wild burn that tumbles down its side, or a painting of the recently dedicated statue of Tom Weir (who has been a massive inspiration in this journey), painted with water from his beloved Loch Lomond where the statue stands. I truly do feel that the inclusion of such source water will make these creations all the more special. I have found 4-oz. shatterproof bottles just for this project, and continue to experiment locally with its development. I'll try salt water next as I would very much like to paint Eilean Donan with water from Loch Duich.
How you can participate, and help me bring this about-
Last Autumn I introduced a package and made it available to any who wish to support this project. Those who purchase will receive much more value than the price of their initial investment. Right away you will receive a limited edition print certificate which is signed, numbered and embellished with a hand-painted thistle, suitable for framing. You'll receive a postcard of one of my Scottish paintings with a personal message mailed to you from somewhere n Scotland. when I am home, I'll upload a sizeable selection of photographs and you may go through them and tell me what you would like painted, and I will create for you a multi-feather painting that is matted and framed at 8x10. My paintings of this size normally sell for $200 to $220, but the entire package is only $85 ($95 Can, $115 int'l). That is the full price, nothing extra for any of the shipping. This package is my way of saying Thank You! Thank you for your interest, your support, and helping me make this all it can be!
You may find the package here, as well as a photograph of a feather painting like what you would receive.
I can only offer this for a bit over a month longer, to allow time to produce and paint on certificates before I fly.
Thank you so much for your time and your interest, and I will keep blogging as I continue to prepare for the adventure, and once the adventure is underway... when I have a connection and may do so. Mòran taing!