Painting Balgonie - Part I

Over the past months I have been working on the portrait of the Laird of Balgonie and Eddergoll. It has proven the most enjoyable project. We had two sittings at the Castle which were utterly gratifying.  Balgonie (a Scottish Laird is informally addressed by his territorial appellation) is a remarkable gentleman whose knowledge of history and conversation is exceedingly stimulating.
After the composition was agreed I started to work on a neutral underpainting upon which I have used a combination of alla prima and glazing passes. I have worked with a putty medium made with chalk, oil, egg white and beeswax. I hope you enjoy peering into what I have done so far. Photos of the painting are displayed with kind permission of the Laird.  In future blogs I'll add more photos as the painting progresses... Buon lavoro!

  Underpainting, Blocking masses and perfecting the composition (Raw umber and Ivory Black).

Underpainting, Blocking masses and perfecting the composition (Raw umber and Ivory Black).

  After two passes (two sessions). I worked with a palette of Burnt Umber, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre and Sap Green cut with medium.

After two passes (two sessions). I worked with a palette of Burnt Umber, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre and Sap Green cut with medium.

  Detail. I still have a lot to do and one or two more sittings in which to refine details. Up to now I have worked from photographs and from a colour study painted from life previously.

Detail. I still have a lot to do and one or two more sittings in which to refine details. Up to now I have worked from photographs and from a colour study painted from life previously.

But let me tell you a little bit more about Balgonie Castle…

The first time I came to Scotland well over a decade ago, I stayed in the Kingdom of Fife. Michael and Ann, my dear friends and hosts, took me for a few outings and during one of these I discovered Balgonie Castle.  It was like meeting an old friend!  The study below shows my first impression of the castle. Please, note that landscape painting is not my forte. I don’t think the painting does it justice.

  Balgonie Casle - Study, Water soluble oil on canvas.

Balgonie Casle - Study, Water soluble oil on canvas.

Unlike other medieval castles of its kind, Balgonie Castle is still inhabited by its owner and keeper, the 30th Laird of Balgonie and Eddergoll and his family (although, as the Laird would remind me, the Castle owns them and not vice versa). Over the years the Castle has suffered much deterioration due to the inclement weather and acts of vandalism. Gladly, this historic treasure has such dedicated keepers who work painstakingly to prevent further ruination and restore its former glory. 

A number volunteers offer their time and skills to help with the preservation of the Castle and they are considered members of the Laird’s household. Yes, restoring a listed building, without any public funding, is not only challenging but costly.  The Castle can be hired for wedding events and the profits are used for the Castle’s upkeep.

If you want to know more please visit http://www.balgoniecastle.co.uk