Pools Beside the Rhue Burn
By James Hawkins

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Year
1993
Media
Oil Painting
Subject Matter
Landscape
Reg. Number
P373
Size
55.5 x 54.5 cm

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The title of this piece suggests that it depicts a pool near James Hawkin's studio in Ullapool, but the painting itself is more ambiguous. The trees, leaves and earth blend into one another so the piece is awash with paint, as if seen as a reflection in water. However, the light blue in the centre of the painting could also represent the Rhue Burn itself, suggesting the scene is indeed a landscape. The mesmerizing array of colour and light leaves more of a sensory impression than a realistic depiction.

Hawkins gave the image its liquid appearance by applying thick layers of acrylic paint and allowing them to mix on the canvas. This allowed individual elements within the image to blur into one another, as seen in the way the sky and the leaves stretch out from the centre of the image. He also used a broad palette, as one finds purples and bright orange mixed with the brown of the trees and white clouds. The wide variety of colour was employed to depict light, rather than the objects themselves. In addition to applying paint, Hawkins scratched away at the paint surface with tools such as a palette knife in order to create lines and indentations, portraying tufts of grass and tree branches.

Hawkins takes much of his inspiration from the environment and history of the landscape near his home in Ullapool. Far from the dreich, rain-soaked images we usually associate with the west coast of Scotland, he captures a sense of awe and wonder at its natural beauty. He uses the brightness and fluidity of acrylic paint to capture the unique light and atmosphere that shapes the Highland landscape: this work in particular communicatse the appearance of a pool as well as the feeling of rippling water and the sense of a flowing stream.

James Hawkins was born in Reading, and studied at the Wimbledon School of Art before going to the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. He currently lives and works outside of Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. More recently, he has transposed his calligraphic style to painting on carbon fiber, making the shape of the work as abstract as the paint strokes themselves. His works are held in many collections, including Glasgow Museums, the Universities of Strathclyde and Durham, and the Councils of the Highlands and Edinburgh.

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