Dusk on the Ayr
I've always loved painting bridges. Over the years I've speculated about why that would be. They all provide the means to go somewhere 'beyond'. But I think they also represent our human urge to dream about what we can do and what's out there if we aim for it? Some are low and workmanlike, but some have spans that soar across in majestic courage, ingenuity and imagination.
As for painting, the really special ones also embrace a landscape or waterway that lifts my spirit at the same time. The storied River Ayr winds through the Scottish countryside heading for the city of its namesake. Flanked by massive trees that bough over its bank, you can well imagine tales of warriors, danger and adventure waiting in the deep shadows over the centuries.
Out painting with my friends from Plein Air Scotland, we explored along River Gardens at historic Auchencruive estates. When we drove over Oswald's Bridge I had that 'spider sense' feeling that this was a really special one. High above the Ayr, crossing the one lane bridge with half round bulwarks (designed large enough to stand in and safely let a wagon pass), the river stretches out in mighty glades in both directions.
But what of the views of the bridge itself? Getting out of my car to walk along it, I hoped we'd have the opportunity (both rain free and logistically) to find a place to paint from on the banks below. A brief tour of the vicinity yielded a path down to the river bottom...And what a view awaited!
Dusk was on the way, but the May sun shone brightly, gilding the bridge on one end and leaving deep purple shade at the other. Time was of the essence to get our painting gear out!
A combination of massive stone bulk with three graceful arches, the bridge conveys both strength and artistry in its design. Apparently dating from 1829, in my searching so far I haven't been able to turn up the architect or dimensions of the bridge. But if you look carefully at the painting, the dot on top left represents the size of my friend standing on top.
The story is told that Robert Burns himself felt inspiration to compose 'Scots Wha Hae' on this site. There's a monument to honour him and William Wallace on the south end of the bridge.
Many thanks for going along on another Scottish painting journey with me!