A new branch from my Scottish devotion-tree
I was able to do this awesome art-project and because it fell right in my Scottish devotion period (let’s call it that), of course it had to take the Scottish road of inspiration!
The theme for the project was “strange people”. And it totally made sense in my head, the English and the Scots were indeed strangers to one another from the 18th century perspective. Their culture was entirely different, it was as if they did not even share one drop of the same blood as we see emotionally portrayed in paintings, songs, history, writings and now even TV series. Perhaps even more so in the fact that Scotland wants to be independent to this day, almost 270 years after the final battle of Culloden.
But if we have learned one thing from the past, I hope, is that a war is always two-sided. People are hurt, forced and traumatised on both sides which is a phenomenon amazingly depicted by WOI Vera Brittain in the autobiography Testament of Youth. That is why my main focus was to portray the “strangeness” of their different cultures, but also the emotional and rational individualism that both sides carried. Also I wanted to catch the heat between the two parties and the way it, I think, made the Scots feel. I wanted to let this painting breath heart. Because I think both sides were very loyal and passionate in what they stood for. Definitely when you consider that the Scots remained stubborn throughout the entire Jacobite risings which eventually got them killed in Culloden.
Another entirely different side is that the 18th century in Scotland is ironically and very strangely labelled as Scotland’s Enlightenment. The first time I read that, after watching the TV series Outlander, it made my jaw drop. I couldn’t believe that this beam of light was casted on a painful era in the Scottish history. The era the Scottish clans got faded away. It then kind of sunk in that a part of Scotland, the southern Lowlands, probably wanted to join the English to expand their knowledge and reach. Scotland was in the 18th century one of the greatest partakers in Great-Britain’s industrialisation. Some of the greatest thinkers from Great-Britain’s 18th century were from Scotland. Voltaire said: “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”. It leaves the wiping out of the Scottish clans a bit on the background..
Anyway, let’s discuss some questions you might ask in advance about the painting. As I discussed before, I wanted to show the “strangeness” towards each other.
With the British soldier, it was all about the uniform, so that is why I have kept the head and hands white and pale to draw more attention to the warmer uniform colours. One thing that is really present are the sweeps of colours that give this vibrancy. I wanted to add those not only because I love colours and to work with colours within colours, I also wanted to give this individuality to the painting. Not in the person’s appearance (cause from the outside on the field they all look the same), but in the atmosphere giving the person its own character that is invisible from the outside. The person is of course Randall from the Outlander poster. I didn’t really want to involve Outlander that much, but the poster was exactly what I needed! It showed this approach of: “don’t worry”, yet with a sword hanging above the beholder creating threat.
It was so funny having people pass me by, looking and then saying while pointing: “Is that from Outlander?”. It was a lot of fun working with these awesome large brushes to apply the colours layer after layer. I had to constantly take a few steps back to correct myself, definitely with the colour sweeps. It was amazing to learn myself how to add shadow to the “fabric” to give it texture (which did work out in the red parts but not really in the blue parts) and to just mess around with your brush and your imagination.
The painting project took me about 15 hours to paint spread across 3 days. The researching process however was immense and took me super long.
The space I occupied kind of looked more like a colour battlefield afterwards, haha.
Next to the painting, I portrayed the Scottish side of the rivalry in my costume (so much Outlander!). You can see it is already finished, and I sure will update my Outlander project soon! To get into the artsy details a bit, the head is of course missing to again shove the individual recognition to the background. The entire struggle was based on systematic approach, definitely with the British being fully disciplined.
The costume is based on 18th century wear, and the skirt is an Arisaid. An Arisaid was how the women wore the 9 yards of great kilt fabric. It is funny to realise that when you fold a great kilt, you buckle it and you stand up (as a man), it would fall into this position first. The front flaps you can then tuck in at the back and voilà, you have revealed the kilt below the layers.
The biggest difference between the two pieces is the vibrant colours in the painting, and the modest colour tones in the costume. I wanted to do that because there already was a dynamic difference in the 2D and 3D tension, and because I did want to show how aggressive the English must have been considering they not only affected families but also Scotlands entire ancient culture, tradition and believes. Of course the pains are on both sides, but it still was the Scottish culture that got faded away.
I really hope you have gained some inspiration from this project. It was so much fun to do, also because I hadn’t done anything like it before, definitely with the painting. So I would also like to give my thanks to my patrons for letting me do this project. Remember: I’m not a professional at all!
Also, I would very much like to announce my final “stagename”: Ava Baytree. You can regard me thus now. It is short, it is simple and it is recognizable. It is above all practical for “signing” photo’s like these, which have nothing to do with costuming.
Please leave a like if you were inspired by this new project and I really would love to know: have you ever painted? I would love to know your stories! Tell me in the comments below.
I send you all the love in the world ~ Ava Baytree! ❤