A CLACKS painter is set to launch an exhibition at a brand new Dunblane gallery.

Karen Strang, who previously featured in the Advertiser when she embarked on a project to paint free portraits of the county's Covid-19 frontline heroes, will be opening the display of her works at Weigh Ahead Gallery on Dunblane's High Street.

Titled Alchemy: a Visual Essay, the painter will unveil a series of stunning small paintings with the exhibition launching on Saturday, September 10.

Karen told the Advertiser how she was looking to embark on an uplifting project, following the dark days of Covid lockdowns.

She said: “Alchemy is about transformation; it's about turning things into gold.

“It's a challenging space [the gallery] – it used to be a jeweller's and I thought gold works quite well in that environment, so I've been working with gold leaf [on canvas].”

Karen, a painter of Scottish-Polish origin who studied at Glasgow School of Art and The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, has always had an interest in magic and the esoteric.

Indeed, she previously featured in the Advertiser with her paintings depicting witchcraft trials in the area.

Leighton Library, also in Dunblane, was one place Karen used extensively in her research on witchcraft and also found books referring to alchemy.

She said: “When I think of Dunblane I think of the library and I often think about the alchemy in the books, that triggered my imagination.

“I also thought of Andy Murray, because he won a gold medal and they painted the post box gold, they transformed the post box to a gold post box.”

Exploring the subject also made the artist revisit the paint she uses.

Karen explained: “The pigments that I use in my paint hasn't changed since the Renaissance, these also come up in alchemy.

“The colours that make green for example, is copper and sulphate and vermilion is made with mercury and these are chemicals that also appear in old alchemical texts from the 16th century.

“Then I thought: painters are not so dissimilar to alchemists because they are using chemicals to transform things into precious objects – a lot of it is about the chemistry of painting and how that links in with alchemy.

“Also, there is a lot of storytelling in alchemy and of course painters use storytelling, I just thought there's so many interesting possibilities and links; painting and drawing with gold is a really fascinating process as well.”

Using gold or other metals on canvas can lead to stunning effects, two dimensional it may be, the light brightly reflecting brings the pieces alive.

Karen said: “It's a really interesting effect, you have to see it for real, it changes depending on what angle you are looking at it when you see the artwork.

“It's almost like it brings it really alive because it's moving, it makes the lines look like they are moving depending on how the light catches it.”

The exhibition will remain on display until October 1 when Karen will be giving a talk.