Trina Bohan Painter - Edinburgh, Scotland

Can you discuss your use of colour?

I usually paint with an earth palette, ochre’s, umbers and greys. And add touches of pure crimsons and oranges. Ultramarine blue is a favourite. A highland location in a wet summer of crimson flowering heathers can produce the faintest of pale pink sky scapes on the near horizon. The Flow country of North Scotland known for its black bogs and marshes, and unrelenting rain can surprisingly make for the most dramatic skies of pewter, soft greys and earth reflected colours.

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What draws you to the combination of sky and water?

I find myself thinking about where the dominant light is, or its origins. The big dramatic skys of Scotland meeting the water along the Western Isles and Hebrides are one of my subjects this year in my exhibition Time lines. I wanted to continue exploring those transient moments.

The water is drama here also. The light source not always in the painting but outside it, light moving back through the clouds as reflected from the sea. Endless movement

Your work is large discuss the issues that size presents and gives?

Painting large works emotively for me, l love the feeling of being lost with big brushes pushing shapes around.  Sometimes my sketch book ideas are blown away and the painting takes on a life of its own, experimenting a little here and there, the satisfaction of seeing it eventually work.  I have a variety of very large easels and have on my wish list an artist crank easel.


My really big canvases are made for me in London, we have carefully worked out what size fits in my building’s industrial size lift, think millimetres here, and the alternative larger size that can be walked up and down the stairs. Any larger and l would be movingto a ground floor studio. Edinburgh is busy turning its large, old, unloved buildings into art spaces. St Margaret’s House was an early start up, two hundred studios with a floor of gallery space makes for a humming creative environment.  l am on the 5th floor overlooking the Firth of Forth, and am always on the lookout for volunteers on the stairs.


 How does man’s intervention in the landscape affect your work?

Just soaking up the skies and landscapes can be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a painter. As l make rough sketches small details become evidence of civilisation in the landscape. A sodden black wooden post in a bright orange burn, dark shapes in the distance become stands of planted trees. The truly awe inspiring sight of a bent frail telegraph pole lost and dwarfed under a desolate landscape and huge brooding and foreboding skies. Small crofts tucked into the side of the hill talk of fierce weathers. Within the painting they help give a sense of perspective, sometimes it will be just a splash of colour rather than an all out depiction.

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You are originally from New Zealand has your background affected how you view your current landscapes?

In retrospect I had to leave new Zealand to understand the difference in landscapes.

How would it be otherwise.  New Zealand’s dramatic volcanic landscape with its clear cold light is in dramatic contrast to Scotland’s old rounded mountains and hills.

New Zealand would have a sharper image, than perhaps Scotland in its gloaming, mist and half light.

Explain how your figurative workshops at St Margaret’s are run?

Figurative drawing and painting Drop In workshop are held every Thursday morning, I set it up six years ago and now the group employs male and female models and is attended by professionals and aspiring alike.


Most artists would agree that change is good for the soul, working on something completely different is essential part of being an artist. There is a freedom to working fast a deadline looms. Three absorbing hours, mixed media on card, experimenting with a different palette, line work, working through different ideas. I would like to think that some of my ideas get played out in my paintings.


You have travelled extensively in Asia take two locations and discuss a particular work that has come from that location.

Living in Asia for a lengthy time took me to JakartaIndonesia, combining a love of cooking and discovering a flabbergasting array of kitchen utensils kept me also painting in the kitchens. A fledgling figurative drawing group probably fostered the Drop In group of today . Chinese red and Balinese orange – vibrant and intense follow me around and end up in Scottish skyscapes.


Dhaka, Bangladesh I painted traders off the streets. These paintings were mixed media on heavy paper. My models were small business people. Model fees were set and a percentage of painting sales was agreed; the results formed the Street Traders of Bangladesh exhibition. Fees went back into their businesses.  Street Traders of Bangladesh exhibition went on to be published as a book.

On a more specific location Papua New Guinea, can you explain your relationship to place and the work you have done because of your visit?

Papua New Guinea was a different experience, once again mixed media, and more portrait work. A more intense experience talking with the women who sat. I felt my technique was changing for the better and wondered when l would take the leap into oils. Model Lily sat many times and if l could post one painting of my PNG experience it would be this portrait. The buyer of this portrait, a long time expatriate resident, said of this painting, ‘You have just made me understand how I can never be part of this PNG woman’s discussion. It can never be my discussion.’

Lily Port Moresby

You have sold work around the world.  How do you record the work you have done and where it has gone to?

Recording and photographing work is an endless discussion and fodder for magazine articles.

Media advances come – floppy discs…and go and not all l thought preserved for eternity has made it.

My studio history yields up quite well kept huge photograph albums of old, with slide or film inserts, also buyer records with scribbled addresses.  Early digital not quite the same success. Today, its cloudland and l have my work professionally photographed. Arusha Gallery , Edinburgh represent me and document all sales. My advice is learn to photograph to the best of your ability. Truly a valuable and cost effective skill.

Trina in studio -

Contact details.

Trina Bohan, Edinburgh, Scotland

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, October, 2015