Art of the TGO Challenge

Amongst all of the other kit decisions I had to make ahead of embarking on the TGO Challenge this year was the one about art kit – what to take ? what would I be likely to use ? was it even worth bothering ? In the end I stuck to my usual approach of a small box of watercolours, a couple of pens and brushes, something to hold some water, a paperback journal (which I was taking anyway to keep notes in), and a few sheets of watercolour paper in a case I got the urge to do anything more than a quick sketch (which I didn’t).

On the Challenge

I found a couple of opportunities to make a few marks on paper, but generally I found that the views worth capturing didn’t coincide with times it was convenient to sit down for half an hour or so to capture them. So I took loads of photos, the intention being to work on a few things once back home.

The couple of sketches I did do on the crossing itself were more with a thought to making notes about the scene than to be any good as artworks in their own right. They were thus:

Glenlicht House, a few lines scribbed down to define the shapes
A sketch from my camp at Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin, a more leisurely piece from my tent with a specific view to a type of painting (see result below)
The head of Glen Isla after my camp on Soggy Sunday


Not fully decided about what I wanted to produce from the 300+ photos I took, I went off in several directions, experimenting with inks and watercolour to see what I felt I was happiest with the results from:

Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin, traditional watercolour
Cairngorm Glen, abstract watercolour (mixes of intense colour allowed to run and merge on very wet paper to create a more abstract result)

The more abstract watercolour was fun but this is one of those things where you paint 3 or 4 pictures to get one you’re happy with. There’s so much temptation to just run one more swirl of colour across the paper. This is the type of painting you embark on knowing you’re not fully in control of what’s happening. Knowing when to stop is key.

Lairig Ghru, a simplified composition to demonstrate techniques at a local art fair. This came out so well, I thought I was going to sell it on the spot.

I also started working on a couple of larger acrylic and texture pieces – more about these in later posts.

I’m planning to convert several more of my photos into artworks, and at the moment I think I’m going to try to aim for a set of watercolours, and hopefully enough for this year’s Christmas calendars. Having picked up my watercolours again after a bit of a hiatus, I found I’ve sort of rediscovered a love for this medium that got briefly eclipsed by the excitement of all the more abstract textured stuff I’ve been doing recently. Probably just as well – I’m due to be teaching a watercolour class next month!




7 thoughts on “Art of the TGO Challenge

    1. I used rough paper (425gsm weight so that it would stand up to a lot of moisture). Paint was added to the surface with a dropper and allowed to run and mix, tilting the surface to encourage it to run where I wanted it to. I also used a water spray in places. That’s all.


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