August/September 2014 - Vol. 75

Scotland - Iona Field, by Jamie Treadwell
'Bands of Light'

An insiders tour of Jamie Treadwell’s ‘Scotland Series’ of paintings

One of the themes of my Scotland painting series is ‘Bands of Light’. Here’s the story of how I use a process to create visual symbolic references in my paintings.  

While I was taking the ferry out of Oban, West Coast of Scotland, the sun broke through the clouds and laid a bright band of light across the sea. It was as though a luminescent cable was dropped into place, and electrified that horizontal slice of the sea’s surface. I’ve seen this a million times before. For anyone living by the sea, it’s a familiar sight.

But in that moment this image struck me as significant. Of all the views from the ferry, this band of light on the water caught my attention. I was in pursuit of answering the question 'what visual symbols capture essence of the Scottish landscape?' 

These bands of light are distinctive in Scotland’s seascape, capturing in an image the variable change of weather, the intensity of the sun as it breaks through the clouds, the scale of the expansive sea, the interaction of the heavens and the earth. 

I noticed this, and carefully observed the nature of that bright line: how the white line was bounded by a bright coloured line along the edge, and the effect of the glow on the immediate colour around that band of light. 

Later that day I visited the Abbey on Iona. As I walked through this ancient and beautifully alive centre of worship and Christian community, I listened to the audio tour guide. The presentation included a recording of monks singing plainchant. Deep resonance of a cappella singing, prayers lifted in music. 

For a few moments that cathedral space was filled with spiritual expression, heaven and earth co-mingled. In the early days the monks gathered for prayer 8 times a day. As though 8 times a day a shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds of day and laid a band of luminescent light across the Iona landscape.

Each morning over the previous few days at my residence in Oban I had joined the community for prayer. We prayed again each evening after dinner. Twice a day a band of light was laid across the pattern of life and work.

After visiting the Abbey I set up my painting materials in its coast side shadow to paint the view looking towards the Scottish mainland. I noticed the bands of light and of colour that now emerged in that landscape view. These bands now had meaning for me, touching on essence and resonating with the living history of Iona’s story. I accentuated them to highlight their significance as a symbolic reference in my painting.

The image ‘Iona’s View’ is the sketch I painted that afternoon. The bands of light and colour laid across the scene are symbolic references to those ‘God moments’ when heaven and earth co-mingle, perhaps in a time of prayer or a moment of revelation through the course of the day.
The bands of colour are pure colour and somewhat translucent. Prayer brings a moment of purity, of transcendence. These moments occur in a pattern of prayer, or an unexpected moment of revelation.  They anchor the messy reality of daily life in heaven’s light.

To see more of  Jamie Treadwell's works visit

Jamie Treadwell is a life coach, and a noted artist who works in pastels, watercolors and acrylics. He is a member of The Servants of the Word, an ecumenical lay missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord, and mission leader in the Sword of the Spirit. He is currently based in London, UK. Visit his art website to see more of his work.].
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