What’s your favourite painting? This is one of the hardest questions I am asked – it’s like choosing your favourite child.
My response usually varies. With thousands of treasures in the collection, picking just one is almost impossible. Covid-19’s impact and the arrival of autumn has influenced my current Top Five.
Harvest Time by Joan Eardley
From 1952 Eardley lived in Catterline, where she painted the wild seas below the cliffs and the surrounding agricultural land using a palette knife to spread thick textured paint. This painting captures the edge of a harvested field and the crimson of late poppies – a familiar early autumn sight in the Aberdeenshire countryside.
Gourdon Dusk by Ian Fleming
My lockdown walks sometimes took me from Inverbervie to Gourdon’s charming harbour. Fleming paints it from a high vantage point, looking down on the geometric pattern of buildings and harbour quays nestled below. Much of the scene is in shadow, with the low, setting sun catching only the buildings closest to the sea.
Dunnottar Castle by John Piper
Lying south of Stonehaven sits Dunnottar Castle perched on a dramatic promontory – another of my regular coastal walks. This spectacular castle was the setting for several important historical events and is a popular location for photographers and artists. Piper painted Dunnottar in dramatic strong colours, with swirling brushstrokes, capturing so successfully its windy, sea-swept setting.
Miss Janet Shairp by Allan Ramsay
Portraits fascinate me and like many visitors, I am curious about the sitters. Currently, I am appreciating the variety of portraits in the BP Portrait Award exhibition, now on display at the gallery. Miss Shairp was painted in 1750 in a delightfully natural manner. Wearing a deep yellow silk dress, her skin is peachy and coiffure immaculate. Her unaffected gaze stares out at us, forming a direct connection across the centuries.
Honeysuckle and Sweetpeas by Winifred Nicholson
During lockdown I nurtured seedlings and planted flowers and vegetables with a renewed enthusiasm, looking forward to harvest. Nicholson’s fascination with the pure yellow and pink tones make this painting an uplifting image, a reminder in darker days of summer warmth and sweet-scented flowers.