Mountains, Lochs, and Glens - Artists Paradise

May 06 2017
A detail of my painting - Walls for the Wind and a Roof for the Rain.

Mountains of Inspiration!

Scotland has always inspired artists, poets, historians and writers. The monumental mountains, glens and vast lochs, all with an abundance of wildlife and changeable weather are awe inspiring. I have always wanted to make a trip, to experience this magnificent country for myself and it was only this year I had the opportunity. 

We were based in the village of Taynuilt in Argyll and Bute for the majority of our trip and spent lots of our time walking. Our first visit was to Kerrera which  is an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, close to the town of Oban. The island is known for the ruined Gylen Castle, a small tower house built in 1582, which I photographed below. Crossing the blue water, to the island on the ferry really felt like an adventure.

May you have - Walls for the wind And a roof for the rain,  And drinks bedside the fire,
 Laughter to cheer you, And those you love near you,  And all that your heart may desire. 
(Celtic Blessing)

A beautiful shipwreck on Kerrera Island - a great subject for another painting.

The Sacred Isle.

The Island of Iona was definitely one the highlights of our visit to Scotland. It is such a beautiful place, with deep blue water, pink granite rocks on the beaches and fantastic views. The little island is also steeped in history and is a place of pilgrimage for Christians, who visit the abbey to worship or take a retreat. (see below)

The Abbey was founded by Saint Columba after he arrived on Iona, with 12 followers from Ireland in a wicker currach, covered with leather. Of all the Dark Age Scottish saints, Columba is the most spectacular: in 563 AD Columba left Ireland and settled with the Gaels of Dál Riata, where he was granted the Island of Iona to found his monastery. 

The Irish monk converted most of pagan Scotland and northern England to the Christian faith.  Iona, became a centre of outstanding learning and a sacred isle where the kings of Scotland, Ireland and Norway were buried. 

Walls for the Wind and a Roof for the Rain By Jamie Poole

Celtic Cross Designs

Whilst staying on Iona, we had the chance to visit the abbey. Outside the building in the grounds is St Martins stone cross which dates to about 800AD. It displays intricate Celtic snake and boss designs on one side and on the west side Biblical scenes carved into the granite. 

The highly dense, interlaced designs, also known as 'Insular' or Island art in Latin, were taken from several earlier styles and was produced in the post-Roman period.  Celtic designs have always held a mysterious fascination to me as they connect us to a rich cultural past. I decided to make my own design using the words from the Celtic blessing at the top of this article. 


The Iona Community

It was Easter when we visited Iona and we were really fortunate to attend an evening and morning service during our visit. We sang hymns amongst the lit candles and the old stone walls and were able to get a rich sense of the place we were visiting. A place with a long history of worship and dedication.

The Iona community was founded by George MacLeod in 1938. He had the vision to rebuild the abbey with skilled craftsmen and young trainee clergy in context of the despair and poverty of the depression. Today the island has over 100 inhabitants, some from established island families and some who are part of the Iona community, both volunteers and staff. Visit the Iona Community website to find out more.

Our Top Ten Scottish Experiences.

1. The Island of Kerrera and the Gylen Castle. This was a fantastic walk that has got everything. The sea, the views, the history and my favourite an old wrecked fishing boat.

2. Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge. The sign when you start the walk suggests adventure - 'danger of death', and the landscape was dark and brooding in April. You feel the mountains closing in around you and can see snow on the peaks. Amazing!

3. Ganavan Sands and Dunstaffnage Castle. Ganavan beach is beautiful and blue and on the day we went sunny and invigorating. The castle is full of  great history and there is a shop too.

4. Cruachan, The Hollow Mountain. This is a power station, that is 1km under a mountain. You get a short tour inside, but will marvel at the astonishing engineering of this cavern that is big enough to hold the tower of London.

5. Inverawe Smokhouse. We walked here from our accommodation at Bonawe House and brought some kippers for our breakfast. They were absolutely yummy -give it a go if you have the chance.

6. The Bridge Over the Atlantic. There is beautiful arched stone bridge here that joins Scotland with the Island of Seil. We had the best pint ever in the pub here -'Tigh an Truish' translated from Gaelic ' House of the Trousers'.

7. Angus Gardens. Rhododendrons and azaleas galore! We were a bit early for this, but go at the right time and it will be stunning.

8. The Falls of Lora. The falls are generated when the tide level in the Firth of Lorn drops below the level of the water in Loch Etive.

9. Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe. A fantastic ruin and one not to miss. It was a wet a rainy day when we visited, but that added to the atmosphere. Built in the mid-1400s by Sir Colin Campbell, 1st Lord of Glenorchy.

10. Island of Mull. We took the ferry to Mull and drove across to get to Iona. The views are breathtaking, and I loved taking photographs and spotting wrecked fishing boats. You can also see seals and lots of birds of prey, including eagles.

Glen Nevis. Path to Steall waterfall.

Easter Animal Magic

March 29 2017
Animal Magic Blog by Jamie Poole

Charles Cruft - Dog Cake Maker.

So, one thing I didn't realise about the Crufts Dog Show, is how long it has been running for. Apparently, the first show took place way back in 1891, at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, London. (Now the Business Design Centre).

Rather than join the family jewellery business, Charles Cruft went to work for a man called James Spratt who had started a venture selling 'Dog Cakes'. This led him to travel to Europe as a salesman before being asked to organise the promotion of the canine section of the Paris Exhibition.

In March, we went to the show for the first time, as we are now enthusiastic dog owners and wanted to see the professionals in action. The dog agility competition was one of the highlights. It was amazing to see the dogs zoom around the obstacle course. The fun though was seeing if the dogs would make it without making any mistakes. 

Sometimes, things can go really wrong! Check out the video below....

Easter Animal Magic

This month, I decided it was time to work on a new series of paintings based on animals. They seem to feature in a lot of my paintings recently, so I thought it would be fun to get a bit closer to these lovely creatures. 

Inspired by the Easter story (not fluffy bunnies), I chose to make three paintings. Firstly, the donkey Jesus rode when he  arrived into Jerusalem as king, the rooster that crowed when Peter denied Jesus and then a spring lamb, or lamb of God.

Energy, Brushstrokes and Text

I have recently been inspired by the artist Mark Hearld, who has also made lots of great collage paintings of animals and birds. They have so much energy and spontaneity to them that I decided push my own work a bit further, in this series. 

Using ink and various mark making tools I created large sheets of brushstrokes, and patterns which I then photographed. I collected patterns that could also be combined with the words and used in these artworks. Photoshop was used to blend the patterns and mark making with the words.

This is a Happy Donkey!

One aspect of these paintings that I have enjoyed the most was adding expression to the animals features to give them a happy countenance. In the painting below I emphasised the eyes and mouth to make the donkey (Benjamin) look even more cheerful. The lamb and rooster have been given the same treatment too. When I paint our dog and other animals I will be looking to give them character in this way!

Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem as King by Jamie Poole
Gift cards and Prints

Well, it will soon be Easter again! So if you are looking for a gift or a greetings card you might like to visit my shop ! I have turned these artworks into both gift cards and limited edition prints.

For a discount on everything in my shop over Easter please use this code at the checkout.


Immediately a Rooster Crowed

Competition Draw.

Win a print of your choice this month!

Send the answer to the following question along with your name to:  .

What is the name of the dog that won Crufts Best in Show 2017?

The winner will be announced on this blog Easter Monday.

Have a great Easter!

I decided to give out 3 prints for this competition!

Congratulations to :
Lena Mayes
Charlotte Basson
Judith Hart


Please visit my shop,  and then email me at
 to let me know which print you would like as your prize.


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