Thursday, 14 January 2016

Flooding Aberdeenshire

On the 30th December 2015 disaster struck in Deeside, Aberdeenshire, when the River Dee had to cope with extreme amounts of water due to heavy rainfall in the mountains caused by storm Frank. The river had never been as high as this since recordings started. A large part of the village Ballater flooded so people had to evacuate, almost all bridges over the Dee closed (right up to Aberdeen), some historic ones were badly damaged by the force of water and a 16th century castle was about to fall in the river. Even a 300 meter section of the main road between Ballater and Braemar got washed away completely!

There were many people who posted videos and photos on YouTube and Facebook. This particular video of a mobile caravan being taken by the river as if it was just made from paper was the most shocking one and made the national news.

In the evening we walked to the bridge in Banchory and we just couldn't believe our eyes. The arches of the bridge were barely visible! Around 6pm it reached its highest level, about 5.2 meters. Normally it's about 2 meters!!

On New Year's Day the river had retreated again and we went out for a walk to see what had actually happened. It was just shocking and impressive at the same time to see the devastation. Below is a selection of photos I took:

Debris along footpath in Banchory ©Fenfolio2016

The river had washed away all the leaves on the track ©Fenfolio2016

Part of a mobile caravan which is left behind

Furniture too was taken away from houses and dumped downstream

This track is completely damaged ©Fenfolio2016

A tunnel carved hrough the river bank by
the force of the water ©Fenfolio2016

A ghillie hut (for fishermen) barely survived the ordeal

Many meters of river bank was taken away ©Fenfolio2016

The whole area on the left of the track was flooded ©Fenfolio2016

Dried grass and needles neatly rolled up by the river

Dried pine needles deposited high in the trees ©Fenfolio2016

Caddisfly larvae were also deposited on the river bank
and left in a puddle to die ©Fenfolio201

Even a smolt (young salmon) got stuck in a puddle! ©Fenfolio2016

This eel was barely alive. We put it back in the river but it might
have been too late for him. ©Fenfolio2016

We also found giant freshwater mussels on dry ground
far away from the actual river which we put back.
They are highly protected species and many years of
conservation work has been lost.

Debris everywhere high up in trees ©Fenfolio2016

Debris everywhere high up in trees ©Fenfolio2016

Via Facebook I got involved with the group Hope Floats, consisting of people (about 6,000 members) who wanted to help the local community by volunteering. Even though Aberdeenshire Council and the emergency services are mainly responsible to deal with events like this, many Council employees were not back yet from their holiday. Also, this crisis was just too big for the Council to take care of in the first few days of the aftermath. Hope Floats coordinated the supply of sand and bags, the filling and transportion of sandbags, receiving and storing donations like food (supermarkets were flooded), clothes and furniture, liaising with people and businesses for pumps and dehumidifiers, etc.

One day I was helping out in the village Aboyne which was flooded too by going round the houses to see whether they needed anything. Then I learnt that people can also be affected by flooding indirectly, especially vulnerable people who are less mobile or ill. Someone from the local radio station joined us on our round and interviewed us. When I came back to our base station BBC Radio Scotland was there to interview the initiators of Hope Floats and they also interviewed me! Here's the link to the programme:
You can hear me talk from 1:04:57 till 1:06:17. For more background information about what has caused this disaster and what could be done about it I would recommend listening to the whole programme. Especially the interviews with the president of the National Farming Union (0:11:00) and the Hutton Institute (0:17:00-0:24:00) are insightful.

A week later, after about 9 days of consistent rain during another low pressure front, there was another flooding, only this time Donsidesuch as Inverurie, Kintore, Alford and Kemney was hit too. People had to evacuate here as the river Don had burst its banks.
While this was happening it was still ok in Banchory so I walked to the River Feugh so see the state. I had never seen it that high! Not long afterwards the bridge was temporarily closed and you can see why in these videos:



Although it will take years for this area to recover and major changes have to take place in the way land is managed here sooner rather than later, there are already some positive things happening. The main road that was washed away has been temporarily replaced by a road further inland, the Invercauld bridge near Braemar that was closed for more than a week has been repaired, the 16th century Abergeldie castle is still there, the government has pledged millions of pounds and charities have raised a lot of money for the restoration. And hopefully more awareness is created that climate change will affect us one way or the other. So after rain comes sunshine, eventually!

A beautiful sunny day after a week of horrendous weather ©Fenfolio2016

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Artistic Explorations: Commission Geoflow Large

This blog, my website, my Facebook page, local exhibitions and galleries are great ways to promote my artwork. It's a wonderful feeling to hear and read that someone appreciates my paintings, prints and photographs. The icing on the cake though is if someone buys it or even commissions me.

Last month I was approached via Facebook by someone who purchased a photographic print on canvas after seeing it at North East Open Studios in 2012.

Ythan Estuary print ©Fenfolio2012

She and her husband were now looking for a colourful painting to be hung on a large wall in their house and "Geoflow" caught their eye after checking out my website. It was created and sold in 2011 and consists of 6 panels, each panel represents a natural element whereby the Western (fire, earth, water and air) and Eastern philosophy (Wu Xing; wood, metal, fire, water and earth) is combined.You can read more about the concept in this blog article.

Geoflow ©Fenfolio2011

After discussing the details, measuring up the wall and designing some options in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for them to get an idea how it would look, I sent them my proposal. I was delighted of course it was accepted! It meant the run up to Christmas would be busy for me so I started work rightaway.

Compared to the previous version this painting would be 4 times bigger. Each panel measures 80 x 15 cm. Because it had to stand out in a large space and the customer likes paintings in impasto (thick paint where painting strokes are visible) I had to build up the various layers of texture and acrylic paint carefully, with enough drying time in between. All in all it took me about 5 weeks to complete!

I laid out all canvas panels in my living room (my studio is too small!) with 5 cm in between each panel. The centre of the circle was carefully determined and a circle was drawn in pencil with a string (with the help of my supporting husband). Below is a summary of the creative process per element.

Work process "Wood":
1. Applied Golden heavy molding paste in two layers for the top section (bark)
2. Base colour of a mix of Galeria VanDyke's Brown and Paynes Gray
3. Thin layer of Golden regular gel semi-gloss in the circle
4. Mix Cryla Lemon Yellow and Phtalo Green with Golden extra heavy gel matte. While still damp, add extra yellow and green with palette knife for light and dark areas
5. While still damp, draw lines with shaper and remove excess paint
6. Dry brush Cryla Phtalo Green and dry brush Cryla Lemon Yellow
7. Paint circle lines in mix Galeria VanDyke's Brown and Paynes Gray with toothpick
8. Drybrush mix Cryla Phtalo Green + Lemon Yellow in top section
9. Satin varnish

Element "Wood" ©Fenfolio2015

Work process "Earth":
1. Sculpted ridges with Golden light molding paste with palette knife (3 layers)
2. Layer of gesso
3. High horizontal areas painted in mix of Galeria Pale Umber and Buff Titanium with gradation in tone and colour nearing vertical ridges
4. Cryla Zinc White for highlights
5. Golden soft gel matte and sprinkled fine sand found in Yell (Shetland) which includes schist.
6. New layer of Golden soft gel matte to seal sand
7. Vertical ridges in between higher areas painted in mix of VanDyke Brown and Black
8. Galeria Black Lava Gel medium on dark areas
9. Galeria Satin Varnish

Element "Earth" ©Fenfolio2015

Work Process "Air":
1. Applied Golden Fiber paste for area outside circle (2 layers)
2. Layer of gesso
3. Painted area outside circle in mix of diluted Cryla Zinc White and Quin. Deep Purple
4. Diluted Cryla Maroon
5. Undiluted Cryla Maroon
6. Undiluted mix of Cryla Maroon and Deep Violet
7. Top: added mix of Cryla Deep Violet and Paynes Gray
8. Added Cryla Zinc White to higher parts in texture
9. Inside circle: painted in mix of Cryla Quin. Deep Purple, Zinc White and touch of Deep Violet
10. Inside circle: mix of Golden regular gel semi-gloss, Cryla Deep Purple and Zinc White.
11. Inside circle: Cryla Zinc White to higher parts in texture
12. Galeria Satin Varnish

Element "Air" ©Fenfolio2015

Work process "Fire":
1. Base colour of a mix of Galeria VanDyke Brown and Payne's Gray
2. Outside circle: added mix of Cryla Pyrrole Scarlet and Lemon Yellow with Golden extra heavy gel matte with palette knife (two layers)
3. Inside circle: added mix of Cryla Lemon Yellow, Pyrrole Scarlet with Golden extra heavy gel matte with palette knife
4. Galeria Satin Varnish

Element "Fire" ©Fenfolio2015

Work process "Metal":
1. Inner circle: glued kitchen foil in folds with Golden soft gel
2. Inner circle: diluted Cryla Payne's Gray
3. Inner circle: dry brush Cryla Payne's Gray on higher areas of texture
4. Outside area: glued kitchen foil flat Golden soft gel
5. Outside area: slightly diluted Cryla Payne's Gray, press in cling film and take off immediately
6. Galeria Satin Varnish
Element "Metal" ©Fenfolio2015

Work process "Water":
1. Outside circle: base colour of a mix of Cryla Payne's Gray and Ultramarine
2. Layer of Golden regular gel semi-gloss
3. Mix of Golden regular gel semi-gloss with Cryla Ultramarine, Phtalo green, Phtalo Blue Red Shade, Manganese Blue and Zinc White with with palette knife (2 layers)
4. Inside circle: mix of mainly Cryla Zinc White and Golden regular gel semi-gloss with a few touches of same colours as above
5. Galeria Satin Varnish

Element "Water" ©Fenfolio2015

This is the complete painting hung on the wall.

Geoflow Large on wall ©Fenfolio2015

As you can see the hanging was quite awkward because the wall is really high and everything had to be aligned perfectly. A few good tools and some great teamwork we managed to do it in two hours. The customer is delighted with their painting and that means I'm happy too. What a wonderful way to finish 2015 on such a high note!

Geoflow Large on wall in newly decorated room

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

At the end of December I always like to take the time to reflect on what I have been doing in the past year. You can read all about that in my latest newsletter.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! I look forward to keeping you informed about all my outdoor and creative activities here in 2016.