Posts for Tag : If Wishes Were Horses

Painting for a Space – Sheildhill Castle

Map – I printed a medieval map and then extended the contours with paint for the entrance hall. Shieldhill is written as Scheelhil.

It’s wonderful to have the chance to make art for a particular space in this case Sheildhill Castle, Quothquorn near Biggar, here in Scotland.

Too often old buildings are over modernised internally, and although the outer walls tell you the age of the building, as soon as you go inside you could be in a modern building.

I think Shieldhill has achieved the blend of old and new well.

The tartan for the soft furnishings was designed for the castle by local mill Calzeat of Biggar.

For my part I aimed to think about the main feature in each room and highlight it through the artwork which all has a local twist.

The entrance with its ancient stone flags called for graphite grey pencil drawings. Each drawing tells a little local history, from the Grey Lady of Sheildhill, the castle’s ghost to ‘On Tintock Tap’ a traditional rhyme.

On Tinto Top there is a mist
And in that mist there is a kist
And in that kist there is a cup
And in that cup there is a drop
Take up that cup, drink of the drop
And set up camp on Tinto top

The art in the hall includes two large paintings of horses. I wanted to tie in the colours of the imposing wooden central staircase. Horses seemed apt as the Clydesdale Horse originates from this part of South Lanarkshire.

The panelled room contains paintings inspired by Medieval tapestries. The Medieval theme is in keeping with the age of the heart of the castle. The Tree of Life hangs over the fireplace flanked by owls.

In the dining room, with it’s beautiful exposed stone walls, hang a series of canvases based on the local landscape. One illustrates the expression ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ which was first recorded in the 1700’s by neighbour to Shieldhill, James Carmichael of Carmichael.

If Wishes Were Horses by Kirsten Harris

I loved the opportunity to create art for the castle. The new owners of Shieldhill have created a wonderful welcoming atmosphere, well worth a visit.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Grey Lady of Shieldhill

Two Dogs, a Cat, Two Magpies and a Dandelion Clock – On Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Closes I was provided with some factual info about their past. I love history so found it interesting but also dry, as these things often are. I needed to find a way to give the information some life through illustrations that hopefully both children and adults would enjoy.

I began by looking at Lanark’s heraldic shield. Lanark is a Royal Burgh. On its 600 year old heraldry I noticed two dogs. Here was the start of an idea.

Lanark had been royal hunting grounds in Medieval times so this is why, I presume, the dogs are on the shield. I decided the dogs would appear in each cartoon providing a bit of fun and mischief but also linking into the long past of Lanark. Six hundred year old dogs were going to be given a new lease of life and turned into cartoon characters.

Now I had dogs I wanted a cat for cat lovers. Around the corner from the high street is the statue of ‘The Girnin’ Dug.’ The local story of neighbourhood feuds involves a cat chase, so here was my cat.

One idea was leading to another but now I had a cat I wanted two birds. I chose two magpies to symbolise ‘two for joy’ as I wanted the panels to be positive for the town. Lastly, I added a dandelion clock.

Much of my artwork over the past few years has been inspired by the saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, which was first recorded by James Carmichael in his book of Scottish proverbs in 1628. The Carmichael lands lie just outside Lanark by Tinto Hill, from where the Clydesdale Horse originates too.

So the dandelion clock acts a kind of signature of my artwork plus referencing more local history, as well as a positive symbol of hope, wishes coming true and transformation.

The dandelion clock too as a reminder of the huge importance of wildflowers as pollinators for bees. I sincerely hope that people will stop seeing dandelions as weeds but as the miraculous plants they are!

Now I had a cast of characters to use in each panel to link the Close illustrations together and attempt to bring to life the hustle and bustle of a busy market town over the centuries.

The historical facts could now wrap around these repeating elements. I really hope locals and visitors to Lanark enjoy the set of 12 drawings. Here is the first pre – drawing I made to bring the dogs to life.

I think we need to name Lanark’s two dogs!?

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The original artwork is going on exhibition and is also for sale, including this first pre project drawing of the heraldic shield …

20-20 Vision – The Haggis Party – Profile of a Hill

The Haggis Party, Pen and Watercolour on Paper

My latest few blogs are collections of art on specific themes. Certain themes recur almost without thinking. So these blogs are a kind of sketch book for me or mini exhibitions. (Apologies in advance for my poor photography of some of the images.)

Tinto Hill here in South Lanarkshire with its distinctive profile, is a daily view and over the past three years has shown up repeatedly in my art in cartoons, drawings and paintings.

Tinto is a hill with history.

Birth of the Clydesdale
Oil on Canvas
100 x 150 cm
The Clydesdale Horse originates from the farms at the base of Tinto. In this large painting, bleak winter weather storms over Tinto as the powerful Clydesdale horse blows in on the winter wind. Painted with copper and gold acrylic paint and overlaid with oil paint to create what I hope is an atmospheric painting.
When Dreams Fly
Available as a print, £20/£30
The saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses, pure men would ride’ was first collected by 1676 by James Carmichael. The Carmichael Estate is at the base of Tinto. This drawing is part of a series of artworks based on the expression. The dandelion clock is another recurring image in my artwork.
blog here

.A Magical Moon
A unicorn stands at the top of the hill.
The Unicorn is the symbol of Scotland.
Original drawing available
Link to this and more original unicorn drawings here
The Dream
A girl gets ready to ride up a mountain. Never stop dreaming or attempting to climb mountains!
Pencil on Paper
Original Artwork Available
Blessings
Available as a black and white hand signed and titled print
£20/30
Angel seeds, angel wishes, hope and life.
Nineteen Corvids
Drawn during lockdown for an exhibition in Lanark
Available as a hand signed and titled print
£20/£30
blog here
The Wishing Tree
This painting portrays trees and dandelion clocks and another recurring theme that of horse trees.
Mixed Media on Canvas
Available
The Haggis Party
Ink and Watercolour
A bit of daft fun. Harris’s Haggises!
Framed Original Available
Horse Landscape
Acrylic on Canvas
This framed painting is oil on copper so changes in the light. It is much more interesting in the flesh than in the photo.
Available
Make Moosic
Pen and Ink
Link to this and other original cow drawings Blog Power of Cow – here
If Witches Were Horses
Available as a print
£20/£30
The poster for an exhibition I organised in Lanark. I have been working over the past few years with The Tolbooth Lanark to bring together artists in this rural area and create a vibrant art scene. The idea for this is based on Hokusai’s famous portfolio 36 Views of Mount Fuji.
The Path
Oil on Canvas
100 x 150 cm
Very loosely based on a Hokusai print. I keep doing more work on this painting, so although framed who knows if it is actually finished!
Available

If you are interested in any of the artwork in this blog please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes

Kirsten

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

Should Paintings be Pleasing?

Should paintings be pleasing? Nice? Attractive? Should they be decorative and easy to live with? Should they look good? Should they make sense? Should they obey rules?

Or are paintings something you have a relationship with? Are they a place to ponder, to lose yourself? A portal into another dimension in some way? Should they have a narrative or a message? Or should they challenge you, confront or inform?

I think the best paintings give you a space for meditation and escape. Good paintings are decorative. Great paintings are extra dimensional. And some paintings are just plain rubbish, but if the artist learned something and had a good time, who cares! And as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Certain paintings literally talk to me in the process of painting them. Ideas come. The paint makes surprise demands and you follow not knowing where you are going. You let go into the paint. Do this, do that, the paint commands.

This painting – is it finished? Is it rubbish? Does it talk to you like it did to me? Is it just – what it is! Is it just plain odd? Is it work in progress? Is it an idea half formed? I don’t know.

I wanted to paint a landscape but it became about the winds of change. The cold winds then became horses. Unexpectedly, but maybe not surprisingly.

The wind has been strong and cold here for these past 3 weeks in lockdown. I have spent as much time as I can outside. I have to earth myself. Earth girls are ease. An alien amongst trees and animals. I’ve loved the peace! Just the wind and birdsong and the odd tractor passing. I have chosen to just continue doing what I have done for several years, just more so, no distractions, no imperative to do anything else, just be a hermit, paint, not listen to the news, write blogs, paint some more, walk the same walk everyday, be with my animals, plant trees, tend the land. I am used to being alone. It is peaceful and blissful for me.

As the horses came to life in the painting so came the title ‘Birth of the Clydesdale.’ These horses were first bred in sight of Tinto Hill, the defining landscape feature in this part of Lanarkshire. Tinto, a mother hill, a breast hill, a hill of local rhyme.

Thoughts came too… change comes to help us. Mother Earth knows best. This lockdown is wonderful for nature. We all need to rest, to reconsider… change is in the wind, the world is changing and it is for good. Branches get broken in strong winds and trees fall. Don’t be frightened, death comes to all of us, breathe deeply, listen to the wind, the wind carries ideas, be present…

How precious the strong magnificent Clydesdale horse must have been for farmers… What a change for the better to have kindness and strength, power and endurance to work with you. The expression ‘If Wishes were Horses’ was first recorded near Tinto too.’ First collected by James Carmichael in 1628 . The expression is a theme in my art. If Wishes Were Horses – once upon a time the Clydesdale horse was wished into being.

Maybe I will repaint this huge canvas, maybe I will add a Clydesdale or two and trees in the foreground or maybe it is finished, I don’t know! For now the painting has stopped talking to me. So I stop.

And does it matter if anyone likes it? Does it matter if it is good or successful as a painting? Not really! The wind whispered in my ear and I was happy.

Birth of The Clydesdale by Kirsten Harris , 100 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas

Only Do the Good Ones!


My dear departed dad once asked me ‘Why don’t you only paint the good ones?’ He was trying to be helpful, and it made me laugh. If only!’ I said! ‘If I could I would!’ 

Sometimes I know when I have done a good painting, but sometimes it seems not. When I had finished drawing ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ I felt critical of it and was going to redraw it, but was too lazy and just shared it on my Facebook page anyway. People went crazy for it sharing it more times than any other image I have drawn. Looking back I remember being 100 percent absorbed and present working on it, studying the pioneering photography by Edweard Muybridge of horses galloping as inspiration.

Sometimes I will make an image that I really like and no-one responds to it. Leaving me to conclude ‘What do I know!?’

I paint and draw several days every week and have done so for years and years, ever hopeful of getting better at art. It is what I do.

So here are some drawings that I think are good ones and the one that I didn’t realise was good until all the facebook shares. They are all available as prints and I am ever grateful for the support my art has received over the years. Thank you from my heart as I endeavour to ‘only do the good ones’ aiming to plant a forest with the proceeds. Art for trees’ is my long term mission, my ‘if wishes were’, in this short life.

The Guardians
To Earth We Return
How to Make a Dream Come True
Dandelion Clock
The Magic Forest
The Happiness of Grass
Contemplating the Earth Walk
In Nature We Find Ourselves
If Wishes Were Horses

A4 Prints are £20
A3 Prints are £30
Printed on high quality art paper
Hand signed and titled
Shipping worldwide

Wishing on Dandelion Clocks

Wishing with a Horse

by Kirsten Harris 

 

‘If Wishes Were Horses beggars would ride!’

 

I was the little girl who begged to ride. I mucked out all weekend at the local stables for a chance to sit on a horse and that might just be bringing the horses up from the field.

I was told horses were for rich people.

I guess we have all got our story.

Maybe the old saying had got into the collective consciousness.

 

‘If Wishes Were Horses’ is a 17th century Scots proverb which means that things are not always just as easy as making a wish.

Is that true?

 

I believe you have to have a dream and that making that first wish will take you one step closer to your dream becoming a reality.

How can you make something happen if you don’t know what you want!

 

Why don’t you make a wish on a dandelion clock today? I’m making a wish.

 

You never know …. <3

 

Make a wish ….. I love this photo today

 

If Wishes Were Horses was first recorded in James Carmichael’s Proverbs in Scots in 1628.

 

‘If Wishes Were Horses’

Pen and Ink drawing on white paper

by Kirsten Harris

Black and White prints available here

 

If Wishes Were Horses

Watercolour on Paper

by Kirsten Harris

Colour print available here