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Artist Donald Jack has exhibition of woodland inspired work mounted in Nairn

By Donald Wilson

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AN Ardersier artist has used lockdown to build a collection of forest paintings which are now on show at Nairn Community Centre.

Donald Jack, also a musician and with a passion for making instruments and writing songs and ditties, has worked as both an art restorer and teacher.

“The forest is a place of beauty but also of mystery and the scene of dark deed and tales,” he said of his latest inspiration. “There is comfort and identity to be found in the woods but also variety and simple joy.”

Donald said he had taken inspiration and encouragement from the works of Ivan Shiskin and American Tonal Impressionist painters.

“I like to work quickly and spontaneously in acrylic and the collection of over 20 forest paintings will form the bulk of the exhibition, which continues until August 7,” he said.

Growing up in Argyll and spending most of his life in the Highlands, Donald (72) said he had always delighted in the environment but had previously found landscape painting daunting.

“The wildness, the scenic splendour and so on are awesome, but for me, just fine as it is without trying to paint it. In any case, others have done this exceedingly well.

“My interest began in autumn and what attracted me was the mysterious quality of light shining through the trees. The motif was usually the same - lots of verticals but with great variety and interest in negative spaces – spaces between the tree trunks.

“I felt also there was enough for the view to relate to this,” he added.

“When you tell people you are a painter, they often ask - ‘what do you paint?’.

“I’m usually glibly evasive and say ‘pictures’, but there is a certain truth in that. The practice of colours for me is about juxtapositions of shape, colour, tone etc, the formal stuff.

“The subject matter is not relevant but it is variable and serves as a prop to put down shapes, colours and tones. Creating images is a basic form of communication at a sometimes subtle level and finding the balance between the subject matter and the subtler subliminal messages is the painter’s task.”

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