By Jenny Watson
Vale man, Billy Scobie, is a master of many talents.
When he responded to our article about the Skylark IX Recovery Project with a photo of his own Skylark painting, I had to find out more.
Q: When did you first become interested in painting?
A: It was in childhood. I was encouraged and advised by my dad. Later, in the Vale of Leven Academy, one of my Art teachers, Farquhar Fraser, was a positive inspiration.
It wasn’t just that he taught me how to paint, but rather how to think like an artist.
Q: What style of painting do you prefer?
A: My favourite medium has always been watercolour. I find I can achieve more sensitive and subtle shades and textures with it.
Q: You created a wonderful painting of the Skylark, what inspired you?
A: Each year, for many years, veterans of the Second World War Dunkirk evacuation came to Jamestown Parish Church, took part in a service of remembrance and thanksgiving, and then paraded to Balloch.
From there they boarded Skylark IX. This was one of the very few surviving vessels to have taken part in the Dunkirk action and they were treated by the Sweeney family to a Loch Lomond cruise.
Around twenty-five years ago, Rev. Ken Russell, then minister of Jamestown Church, paid me the very great compliment of asking me to do a painting of the Skylark.
It was an honour and a privilege to do so as my own uncle, Duncan Baxter, was rescued from Dunkirk.
I take my middle name from him, and this is the only painting I ever signed with my full name – William Duncan Scobie.
The painting first hung in Jamestown Parish Church, but now hangs in Lomond Parish Church, Balloch.
Q: If you could paint anything in the world, what would you choose?
A: My wife Mary.
Q: Do you have any other creative interests besides painting?
A: I’ve written three historical novels and a collection of short stories under the pseudonym Alexander Tait.
They are ‘Whisky in the Jar’, ‘Upon This Rock’, ‘Mightier than the Sword’ and ‘The Cup’.
I have also written a collection of poems under my own name ‘Song of the River’.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone interested in creating art?
A: First and foremost I would say, believe in yourself! Find a subject which inspires you.
Find a medium with which you are comfortable and with which you get your best results…and do your stuff!
For Those Who Have Mattered
He had lost his wife,
Just days before.
Silhouetted against cold winter light
He told us,
As we tried to comfort him,
That we cannot live with the dead.
Yet here is irony,
For he is long gone
And in sharing his words with you,
We are living with the dead.
We stand on the stage of Life.
The day-to-day, the ordinary,
And we project uncertain voices
Into the darkness of an empty theatre.
Those who have mattered,
Have long since left the hall.
These loved ones
Who made us who we are.
Even yet we live for them.
We try to make them proud.
We fear to cause them shame.
We live with the dead,
And for the dead,
Each moment of each day.
By W. Scobie
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