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Colours of Scotland


I love the way the winter colours are reflected in our flag. Clear blue and shocking white. Well at least when snow falls. It is stunning. I have missed these days this winter. The weather appears to have reflected our nation’s mood. Winter lost its sharp edge, turning mostly dull and grey. Rain our constant companion with the occasional wild wind, designed to drive the cold wet rain deeper into our consciousness and clothes.

Eventually even the grey has had enough.

Just when I had given up on a proper winter it happened. Down came the snow and out came the sun, clouds vanish and suddenly you feel the mood changing all around.

To be honest this sudden assault of brightness actually hurts the eyes, as snow crystals dazzle and dances like jewels on a fantasy gown. No more muddy ground sooking at our wellies. Just crisp clear ice, crushes and crumbles at our feet.

It doesn’t need to be spring to gladden the heart and lift the spirits. Even here in the Highlands where you expect any sensible plants to stay hidden till at least March, brave wee flowers have started to creep open. I saw a snow drop peek through, matching the snow in its intensity. Gorse and its brilliant yellow has already started to bloom in some sunny sheltered spots.

Many have written about the need we humans have to be in touch with nature to see, feel and smell it around us. Who doesn’t like glimpsing flashes of red from deer, fox and squirrel? Or what about the buzzards, kites and tiny robins. They all make us wonder and add something special to our lives. It is not nature alone that achieves this, it is also the element of colour.

As children how many of us remember being told, ‘green for grass and blue for the sky?’ Thankfully, this no longer holds. Truthfully, as we know, these colours change with the season and the weather; this being Scotland that may be every second or so.

I am no expert on art, I haven’t studied it and have no talent whatsoever for painting, unfortunately that gift has past me by.

Whether it was art galleries, street painting, stalls or peering in at pictures in windows, I always felt a sense of disappointment that the Scotland I saw was hardly reflected. Paintings appeared to reflect a ‘colour culture’ made up of dreamy water colours or fierce dramatic skies and darken countryside. I felt somehow a little detached from them. Where were the bright fierce oranges of autumn and searing blues of the sky and sea?

Then it happened, suddenly a painting mirrored how I saw the great outdoors, there in a little shop in Stornoway. So full of rich colours that it blasted away the more romanticised paintings I had seen before. I was totally transfixed.

It brought the same joy as seeing nature first hand. It was as if mine and many other eyes had been opened. It was for me an incredible experience.

To be honest I didn’t even know who the artist was at that time or what the painting was called. I just knew how it made me feel and that it was so very different and so very right from anything else I had seen at that time. Imagine having the power to make someone feel like that, what a gift.

Art and colour are a very personal thing. Popular art often has nothing to do with talent and lots to do with media, especially these day. However that is not the case here. I make no apology for liking a highly talented and famous painter’s work.

So on these grey winters days when nature can’t be reached for whatever reason, be it black ice, wicked winds or life in general; I can dream of these amazing paintings or indeed access their images on line.

And although my artist skills alas do not include painting, I can however, create a thank you (even if it will never be seen) to Jolomo or John Lowrie Morrison, for seeing all of Scotland’s landscape colours in a way it deserves.

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