Lindisfarne - After The Fall
Lindisfarne - After The Fall

This iconic image of Lindisfarne Castle is more often represented in daylight, and in high summer. The Castle is perched on a Whin Sill outcrop, the same geological sediment that also forms much of the natural barrier that underlies Hadrian’s Wall. This depiction has an altogether darker theme, and, I hope goes some way to convey the remote and desolate nature of this fortress outcrop. I’m sure the first monastic inhabitants of England’s earliest Celtic Christian settlement, would have sympathised with this depiction.

Rapeseed at Bamburgh
Rapeseed at Bamburgh
Thanks to the restorative work done by Lord Armstrong in the 19th Century, we are used to enjoying a more complete version of Bamburgh; we’ve seen it so many times in print and on film, Beckett, The Lion in Winter and Robin Hood to name but a few. This is a more bucolic view taken from the rear, the landward side, looking out towards the North Sea. I wonder what 19th Century farmers would have made of that saviour of late 20th Century farming industry, the production of Rapeseed oil? They probably would have thought, Sunflowers? Bamburgh?

Dunstanburgh Dawn
Dunstanburgh Dawn

Dunstanburgh is another unreconstructed ruin from the wars of the Crown and Commonwealth. The English Civil War, was the death knell to many medieval fortresses, leaving most destroyed, due in main to artillery bombardment. Locally, the enmity which pitted Royalist Newcastle against Parliamentarian Sunderland continues to this day on the football field. Sunrise and sunset are times of the great contrast, the light and the night make for artists great bedfellows.

Salter’s Nick
Salters Nick
Salters Nick is named after an area in Shafto Crags near the Wall, which was said to be the hiding place of the Earl of Dewentwater and his brother after the failed Jacobite uprising of 1715. As with much of rural Northumberland, it has a wildness, yet as can be seen by the stone field boundaries, it has been tamed for use as agricultural land. I’ve kept the boundaries crisp, yet left the sky wild, heavy use of palette knife has, I hope given it a degree of movement that is in sharp contrast to the stillness of the snow leaden fields.

Frosty Rushes at Highshield Crags
Frosty Rushes at Highshied Crags
The simplicity of the composition is reflected in the monochrome nature of the colour palette used. The picture depicts midwinter at Highshield Crags overlooking Crag Lough. Knife work, of simple zinc white over blue, I hope, helps convey the bleak temperatures in the sky over Northumberland, but rushes broadly painted in tones of blue, purple and grey add a certain warmth.

West Cawsfield Crags Big Skye
Big Skye
This painting is named for an old friend who moved to the BIG COUNTRY, the USA and now lives in Richmond Virginia. Big Skye, depicts an area of the Wall at West Cawfield Crags. Northumberland is a big open County with big open skies, again a grey white monochrome palette is enlivened broad knife strokes in Prussian blue and flashes of pink and red.

Sky Blue Walltown Crags
Sky Blue at Walltown Crags
Reducing an image down to 4 colours would normally seem as limiting, but in trying to represent the coldest of winter’s days at the Wall at Walltown, I think the restriction in use of pigment complements the spare nature of the image and accentuates then sense of winter. The use of fillers and glues to bulk out the pigment has meant that the landscape could be sculpted to form drifts and ridges.

Peel Bothy Last Light
Peel Bothy Last Light
Often nature is stranger than anything that can be dreamt up by the imagination. The sunset in Last Light was exactly as dramatic and unworldly as it’s depicted. The colour seemed to explode like an incendiary bomb. Although the foreground is uniformly dark and tonally indistinguishable, the heavy use of reinforced pigment tries suggest the rugged nature of the landscape.

Slieve Croob
Sleive Croob
A snow filled landscape that although devoid of life, shows in the footsteps to the left a degree of human activity. The coast is seen in the far distance and the low evening sunlight drifts in from the west.

Bog Cotton at Spelga
Bog Cotton at Spelga
Spelga Dam in the Mournes was built to supply water to the Belfast area. It is sited in particularly wet marshy land, even while pouring concrete to form the Dam the construction team realised the whole structure was sinking, the bed rock was found to be 40 meters below the surface. Bog Cotton is so named because it resembles Cotton yet unlike its American cousin thrives in peat bog.

Mourne Wall
Mourne Wall
The Mourne Wall , which mounts the summit of Slieve Donard along with 15 other peaks in the Mourne Mountains, was built between 1904 and 1922 to enclose the catchment area of the Silent Valley Reservoir. Originally it was built to ensure clean water courses for the new reservoir it was thought by some to have been set up as job creation scheme to alleviate the chronic unemployment in the area. The snow encased wall is a mass of slushy greys and blue greens, in the distance we can see the coast and evidence that a thaw has set in.

Grey Mare Hill
Greymare Hill
A snowy scene at Grey Mare Hill, Kiln Pit Hill, Northumberland. On the horizon sits the church of St Andrew, now disused and redundant, it was built on the site of a much older medieval structure and dates from 1769. Adjacent to the church sits the Hopper mausoleum with its distinctive dome said to be built by Humphrey Hopper in 1752, although many believe architectural evidence would suggest it was in fact a much earlier construction. Snowy ploughed furrows accentuate the bleak desolate nature of a south Northumberland winter in early February.

Highshield at Crag Lough
Highshield at Crag Lough
Another depiction of this ever popular area of the Wall at Craglough as the Wall marches over the whin sill outcrop with the lough just in view and the Wall climbing over the hill in the distance eastwards towards Housteads Fort. Heavy impasto reinforced pallet knife work makes this picture have an organic darker quality. Again, the use of colour is restricted to white, Prussian blue, Paynes grey and taupe. This view is set in an ethereal moonlight which could have come straight from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Murlough Bay
Murlough Bay
The area at Murlough on Dundrum Bay on the coast of County Down was Northern Ireland’s first National Nature Reserve. In the distance high above the town of Newcastle sits Slieve Donnard and the majestic Mourne Mountains, which, as the old song recalls, “rolls down to the sea”.
This is a coastal site of outstanding natural beauty and botanical importance, and borders the famous golf links at Royal County Down and at the opposite end of the bay the, seaside town of Newcastle. Heavy, dense pigment reinforces the wild nature of the olive green marram grasses which are spiky and alive to touch. The day depicted was windy and overcast yet changeable. The incoming bright offshore weather systems seemed to bode well for a brighter day.

The Dying Of The Day....Cowraik Quarry
The slow melancholic air, the Dying of the Day was written after a walk taken by Brian Convey, Myself and Meg, Brian’s Springer Spaniel bitch as dusk fell, through the snow at Wanfell near Penrith, and later at Cowraik Quarry in mid-February. I’ve painted it with broad impressionistic brush strokes; here, set against the stark trees, the brightness of the different blues make a welcome contrast, warmed by a watery winter sun producing complimentary pink overtones.

Allonby On Solway
Allonby web CD
Allonby On Solway in midsummer, heavy use of pallet knife and thick reinforced pigment give this image a post-impressionist quality. The houses in the mid foreground have a Riviera feel, unfortunately without the Mediterranean weather.

Bamburgh By Moonlight
Bamb by MoonL web CD
Another atmospheric view of Bamburgh Castle and town in silhouette, again using a restricted palette of blues, grey-black, zinc and titanium white.

Bluebells In Tynedale
Bluebells web CD
A sunny spring scene in the bluebell woods near Aydon Castle north of Corbridge in the Tyne Valley.

Carlingford Shore
CarlingFordShore web CD
A barely visible, mist covered County Down shore just east of Rostrevor on Carlingford Lough is depicted here from the viewpoint across the straight in the Irish Republic at Omeath. Again, a monochrome palette of greys and blues is enlivened with tones of earthy ochres, browns and seaweed-greens.

Newcastle Co Down - Shoreline
Newcastle Co Down CD
A view from low tide in Dundrum Bay looking towards Royal Co Down golf course on the right and Newcastle town and promenade on the left. Brooding over both sits Slieve Donard and the Mourne’s in the distance.

splash web CD
A burst of sea spray caught the evening sunlight at Green Castle on the south-east coast of Co Down.

Kielder’s Edge
yellow sky web CD
This simple composition is taken from a view of Kielder Water in north Northumberland. Caught in the early morning hazy sunshine, the overall flat rendition of trees and their reflection is enhanced by palette knife work in the foreground and the illuminated sky.

Snow Wall - Herdwick Sheep
snow wall 300

This scene depicts the most common sheep breed to upland Cumbria and the Scottish Borders, the Herdwick. The wall is at Wet Sledale south of Penrith, home to Sledale Hall made famous in “Withnail and I”.