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Published: 28 July 2018

By Andy Ross

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The summer light

Last night I went out on the nearby voe at Gloup, and watched a stupendous sunset. Ah! The summer...

At this time of year the long days are shortening but we still have daylight and drama long after the rest of the country has gone dark. This is the season to go exploring, or just to sit quietly and watch the light changing over our landscape, drinking in all the peace and quiet that Shetland has to offer. 

I have written about Gloup Voe before, about the walk along the side of the hills looking down into the clear water with its sandy floor giving the inlet that lovely green colour. After a few days of weaving The Shetland Tweed Company's newest cloth which was inspired by the heather colours at this time of year (more about that later) it was A Good Thing to to sit above the voe and watch the rain falling in a violet haze far in the distance from blue lined clouds while the sun shone through gaps in those amazing lines which always put me in mind of an old painting

Sometimes, after a few days of work and activity, it is necessary to sit quietly. I took my art materials along and did a watercolour for nearly three-quarters of an hour. Frustratingly, it did not work out. So, packing my bag, I headed along the clifftops and, as I walked, thought and gazed out along the water. Suddenly it occurred that perhaps I was trying too hard to make something happen that really just needed time and patience to work. I sat down again in a hollow out of the wind and concentrated  on a small section of landscape, painting simply and carefully. This time I managed to make something passable! I realised that the problem was trying to get too much information into a small painting, and trying too hard to capture all the colours that I saw. 

After the small painting was done I realised that I was looking at the landscape and colours in a whole new way. And just at that moment the sun broke through the clouds and light poured through, glancing off the hill opposite and highlighting the ruined croft houses with their sheep-manicured lawns. The voe glowed with violet and blue, green and yellow, and the cliffs which tumble into the sea around the bay shone with ochre and red. 

Here is to summer in the isles. What an amazing place to live!