The artist's biographer, W. Gordon Smith comments, 'Out of doors, offering himself up to something he recognised as sublime in nature, he succumbed and responded, but like a sailor engulfed in a storm, held on for dear life to his seamanship and his charts. 'The navigator doesn't travel from A to B,' said that great helmsman Tristan Jones 'The world passes underneath him. He doesn't arrive at his destination, he fetches it to him'.
Apart from adjusting the path of a road or re-routing a line of telegraph poles to strengthen a composition Gillies seldom altered what he had chosen to see. The elevation of the superb draughtsmanship to consummate artist came through his physical manipulation of paint and colour to register his emotions ... Gillies understood that the medium was the message' (see W. Gordon Smith, W. G. Gillis, A Very Still Life, Edinburgh, 1991, p. 49).