Saturday, March 30, 2019

Lovely Ruins ~ Kilchurn Castle

Kilchurn Castle
15th Century
Loch Awe

The ferox rins in rough Loch Awe,
A weary cry frae ony toun;
The Spey, that loups o’er linn and fa’,
They praise a’ ither streams aboon;
They boast their braes o’ bonny doon:
Gie me to hear the ringing reel,
Where shilfas sing and cushats croon
By fair Tweedside, at Ashestiel!

We drove past the unmarked entrance to the small parking lot and had to backtrack. Fortunately, we found it, but only after asking a nice Scottish Lady who was doing some work out in her garden. With her help we located the parking area. There was also a little sign amongst the flowers with an arrow pointing to the castle path. 

Lovely Scottish lute for your journey ... 

With all the rain you had to watch your step but it made for lovely reflections and an incredible view of the castle on the horizon!

There’s Ettrick, Megget, Ale, and a’,
Where trout swim thick in May and June;
Ye’ll see them take in showers o’ snaw
Some blinking, cauldrife April noon:
Rax ower the palmer and march-broun,
And syne we’ll show a bonny creel,
In spring or simmer, late or soon,
By fair Tweedside, at Ashestiel!

I love that there are signs with information and illustrations of what the castle would have looked like!

There were no guards that we saw, or even tours, but just a few visitors here and there. It was quite peaceful and very quiet.

The ruined castle sits on Loch Awe, in Dalmally, which is in Argyll and Bute. It was built by the Clan Cambell, or to be more specific by Sir Colin Cambell, 1st Lord of Glenorchy. Kilchurn was the stronghold of the Cambells of Glenorchy from the mid 1400s until the late 1700s when it was abandoned.


"The castle comprised a five-storey tower-house at one corner of an irregular-shaped courtyard. The tower house still stands substantially complete, overshadowing the rest of the complex. On the ground level of the tower were a cellar and prison. There was a hall on the first floor and private chambers above."

There’s mony a water, great or sma’,
Gaes singing in his siller tune,
Through glen and heuch, and hope and shaw,
Beneath the sunlicht or the moon:
But set us in our fishing shoon
Between the Caddon burn and Peel,
And syne we’ll cross the heather broun
By fair Tweedside, at Ashestiel!


Below, one of my favorite photos from the trip! It's calling me to paint it!

Deil tak the dirty trading loon
Wad gar the water ca’ his wheel,
And drift his dyes and poisons doun

By fair Tweedside, at Ashestiel!
~ By Andrew Lang 

In a strange way, I often like these ruined castles more than the perfectly kept ones that are still residences. Don't get me wrong, those are beautiful as well, but somehow the ruins enable the imagination to play and you feel more strongly the passage of time. 

On our way back up to Onich we drove past The Black Mount and Rannoch Mòr, then through the rain and Glencoe.

I fell madly in love with this area and would love to go back to hike through the magical hills and paint them en plein air! Maybe in May or June when it's slightly less rainy. 

The next day we had to say goodbye to our wonderful little place in Onich on Loch Linnhe. I felt as though it cast a spell on me!

We headed south toward Glasgow and low and behold, on a different road we caught another beautiful view of Kilchurn Castle.

Kilchurn is open to visitors from April 1st to September 30th and is open 9:30-5:30. I didn't see anyone around but someone must come and lock the gate. They also close for bad weather, and seeing how muddy it got around the entrance, I can see why.

Some of you might recall that I did a post I did about Leaky's Bookstore in Inverness. That was where I bought an etching that now hangs in my dining room.

It is yet another view of the ruins of Kilchurn Castle!

Visit Scotland - Kilchurn Castle

Next up ... the road to Glasgow and finally ... Highland Cows!!!

Blessings and light!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Artistic Inspiration ~ Breathtaking Glencoe and Glen Etiv

Wherever I wander,
Wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands
Forever I love.
~Robert Burns

The Weeping Glen
pastel on sanded paper
9 x 12"
300.00 (Unframed)

Glencoe was one of the places I was most excited to see in Scotland and it did not disappoint! Neither did Buachaille Etive Mòr or Glen Etive. They are all right in the same vicinity and I had to have taken at least a thousand photographs that day, knowing they would eventually become studies for paintings and drawings.

Here's some beautiful Gaelic music, by the lovely Julie Fowlis, for the journey. Press play!

We took off from our little place in Onich and headed East for Glencoe ...

The Three Sisters of Glencoe

It was gorgeous! This lovely piper was there playing which made it all the more incredible. It didn't matter that there were cars parked up to the view and people all around. We were all under the spell of the "Weeping Glen." 

There was a little girl in plaid with the piper selling tiny bunches of heather. It was so darling. My dad got one for my mom, of course. He does sweet things like that. :)

You can see many streams of water making their way down through the rocks and lushness of the landscape. I suppose it is one reason for calling it the Weeping Glen. There is also sad history of one clan slaughtering another at the behest of the British Crown. But, the earth in its beauty is healing and this place has a mystical beauty and energy that transports you.

My Travel Journal

Around the bend is a lovely waterfall.

And just a 10 or so minutes East of Glencoe is ...

Buachaille Etive Mòr 

Glen Etive

Then just another 3 minutes East on the A82 is the road to Glen Etive. It is a one lane road that seems to go on forever. Perhaps because we stopped every couple of hundred yards to take photos!

Above, is a little demo I did for my private student Parker. Below, is my demo with his large watercolor painting of Glen Etive. He was 12 at the time! 

It wouldn't be difficult to convince me that this place is what heaven looks like. It is truly magnificent.

After our Scottish photo safari we headed South to Kilchurn Castle, which will be in my next post. Check back for that, it's coming up soon!

Later in the day we drove back past Glen Etive and Buachaille Etive Mòr and through Glencoe. You can see how different it looks when the weather changes, and sometimes quickly!

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon
your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
~Langston Hughes

The Weeping Glen in the rain ...

Saint John
Scottish Episcopal Church

For my solo show in December, I had three paintings of Scotland. One was Edinburgh, another was from the Isle of Skye, and the third was of Glencoe, the Weeping Glen.

All the paintings were done on wood panels. You can see how loose I start the painting with only washes of color. I begin by mixing the paint with a lot of mineral spirits. The tape you see peeling off is to protect the sides of the panel from getting messy which, only occasionally, works.

Another layer and a a lot thicker ...

Adding in more light and contrast. At this point I was getting ready to add the silver leaf, which all the Scotland paintings had.

Only a touch of silver on the horizon.

Glencoe, 2017
9 X 12"
Oil on wood panel

I love this gentleman. He does videos of his walks around Scotland. They are not a high tech, masterpiece, extravaganza but very charming and I love his voice! In this video he walks around Glencoe in very early spring before things turn green.

I am leaving on another trip soon and my boyfriend suggested I should probably finish Scotland  because I haven't even gotten to the part of the trip where we went to Italy. Alas, it was a slow year for posting. I got so busy with various things, including my solo show and now training for my Via Di Francesco Cammino of which I am doing a 165 km section.

Anyway, stay tuned!

I ran across this young lady, Claire Hastings, on YouTube and just adore her voice and spirit when she sings. Enjoy!

Blessings and light!