Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Paint the story in colour

July 31st, 2010

SCOTTISH ARTISTS rank with any whose work you'll see hanging on the wall   In the past ten days I've seen two exhibitions whose impressions will linger in the memory for the pleasure they gave.

Kirkcaldy Art Gallery has what must rate as the best collection of paintings by William McTaggart held in public ownership   The Gallery has marked the centenary of McTaggart's death in 1910 with a stunning exhibition of their own paintings and others gathered from amongst the family   He married twice and his second wife Marjory was my great-aunt, so there was family interest to pursue as well as the opportunity to see a lot of his paintings at once.

Between his two wives he had fifteen children, inspiring the exhibition's title of  €œMcTaggart's Children €   Growing up in Campbeltown in the 1840s and 50s it was natural that so many of his paintings have countryside and seashore settings   As often as not they feature some of his children   His interpretation of landscape, use of space and light, the energy and emotions of the figures some of whom we had met and known as the  €œold cousins €, made it a very personal experience.

The Glasgow Boys were an informal association of Glasgow based painters whose most prolific output was between 1880 and 1895   They were regarded by the art establishment as radical and avant garde because they worked out of doors and focused on scenes of rural life, painting real people in real life   The earthiness and reality found in their style, use of bold colours and sympathy with their subjects many of whom, like McTaggart's, were children, challenged the romantic and classical style they were escaping from.

EA Hornel, Joseph Crawhall, George Henry, Edward Walton, Guthrie, Lavery, Melville – there's not room to mention them all – have been brought together in a celebratory retrospective exhibition of the Glasgow Boys in their home-town Kelvingrove Art Gallery   Paintings from their travels in Europe are represented as well as more familiar scenes from East Lothian which struck a nostalgic note with me   But as with McTaggart, the personalities are intrinsic to the story the artist is telling.

Two exhibitions like these will certainly not be repeated in my lifetime and I'll be visiting them both again before the end of September when they will close   There's vigour and drama and excitement in McTaggart's impressionist skies and seas but I picked out little social details in the Glasgow Boys' paintings, like the metal heel plates on a young girl's boots to ensure they didn't wear down before they could be passed on to a brother or sister.

Looking at all these wonderful paintings it was just a small step for a man with two dogs to imagine himself and the two bold boys walking with the artist in the fields and woods, or scrambling over seaweed covered rocks.

Written on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 8:34 am for Weekly.