Category Archives: Daily Sketch

St Andrews Day Sketch

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A saltire in the sky for this year’s St Andrews Day sketch.

I was recently at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to sketch Scottish symbols and run a couple of workshops. While there I learnt plenty of interesting facets I wasn’t aware of.

Like the legend that states in the ninth century a Pictish king, Angus mac Fergus, adopted St Andrew as the patron saint after seeing a Saltire appear in the sky, immediately before his victory in battle at Athelstaneford.

An army of Picts and Scots under King Angus invaded the Lothians, which was still Northumbrian territory at the time. It found itself surrounded by Saxons led by Athelstan.

Fearing defeat, King Angus led prayers and then saw a cloud formation of a white Saltire in the blue sky. The king vowed that if, with Andrew’s help he won, he would make him the patron saint of Scotland.

The Scots won and the Saltire became the flag of Scotland. So although there were no aeroplane trails in the skies back in the ninth century, I imagine the skies looked a little like my sketch!

Thanks to VisitScotland for the details above, you can read more on there website HERE.

Also I have been asked to make this sketch available as a print so here it is, as a great quality signed and mounted print available with free UK postage on my Etsy shop HERE.

Abbey Strand gardens

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I was inspired by the calm and relaxing gardens on a wintry afternoon.

Last week I ran a couple of workshops within the Palace of Holyroodhouse and I was so inspired by the light in the gardens that I made this sketch.

I hadn’t been in the gardens since they were reopened along with the Abbey Strand Buildings, which now are home to the Learning Centre, providing spaces for school groups, families and adults to learn about and engage with the Palace and the Royal Collection.

The sun was just hitting the tops of the buildings as I stood in the gardens painting, I think it was the highest the sun rose that day.

My drawing was created in ink and watercolour, below you can see a photo from the gardens.

Find out more about the Abbey Strand buildings on the Royal Collection Trust website HERE

Power to the teachers

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Today the teachers were on strike, for the first time since the 80s.

Today I was running a very enjoyable sketching workshop in the Palace of Holyrood House and over the road I could see and hear the strike protest outside the Scottish Parliament.

I had a walk over to make my sketch and there was a lovely vibe as teachers from various schools held flags and home made banners asking for a pay rise and more up to date facilities.

My two kids are off today too, and I hope the teachers get what they want. They do an amazing job and in my opinion they, and the kids they teach and look after deserve all the help and support we can give them.

Find out more about the strike below, on the Educational Institute of Scotland website.

Castle lights bring the festive spirit

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This week I was invited to witness the start of the Castle of Light festival at Edinburgh Castle.

Bursting with colourful illuminations and stories from Edinburgh’s rich history the castle is once again open for a festive walk around the battlements, with fantastic views across the sparkling city.

New for this year the animations follow this year’s Kingdom of Colours theme, showcasing the castle’s stories as ‘defender of the nation’, the historic moments dating back 800 years.

The view above is from the Castle esplanade, thumping music and a spiralling mosaic of illustration and colour hits you straight awayt and leads you in through the castle gates.

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Above shows the Earl Haig statue outside the War Museum, on which was projected a beautiful dancing figure made of snow. Calming classical music matches the rythum of the dance as people stand entranced in the view.

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I loved the laughter and family festive vibe that followed me around the roughly 60 minute walk from area to area. Children stood in awe looking up at the engaging light show and story telling. Even if you have been in the past I would recommend revisiting, I left feeling I’d been to see a great show, well done Edinburgh Castle.

Adults are £20, Children £12 and if you are a Historic Scotland member there is a 10% discount here:

Light at the end of the Walk

Today the sun is shining on a more open Leith Walk.

Great to see a more open look to Leith Walk. The street has been covered in ever changing roadworks and caged fencing that I forget how it looked before.

But hopefully not long now until the trams are rolling and the streets are construction, and diversion free.

Sketch made in my Works pad, using ink fadeproof pen and a waterbrush with Newton and Windsor watercolours.

For those gone too soon

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Today is the 11th of the 11th, Remembrance Day and a time to reflect.

I am giving a thought to all those who have fallen in conflict, gone before their time fighting or standing up for their beliefs and their families.

Yesterday I painted this poppy, the symbol of both remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.

I spent most of the day on it, using watercolours only and leaving each layer to dry before coming back to it. This way of painting is the opposite of my usual speedy quick sketching but I love the depth it gives when you look close up.

I also had plenty of time to think about this time of year and how we mark the date. Personally I feel it’s important to look back, remembering and marking the past and working hard to make sure we learn from history to make the future a better place.

I will be selling this poppy painting HERE as a signed and mounted 15cm square giclee print for £25 (UK postage included) with £5 from each one sold going to PoppyScotland.

My previous 2018 poppy sketch is also available HERE and has now raised £210 for the Scottish charity which raises money for veterans and their families.

You can order a print of today’s sketch via my Etsy shop HERE.

Skyline changing at Sick Kids

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A quick drive by sketch to see how the old children’s hospital is changing.

A place my family and I knew so well is changing forever and although I know the new hospital is doing a fantastic job I will always look back on the hospital by the meadows with fondness.

This is Sylvan Place where the A&E entrance was and where I rushed through a few times past the parked ambulance and a blur of parents and doctors. Distant memories now thankfully, and scene replaced with cranes and construction workers!

Autumn colours on London Road

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After a break away it was good to be back on the streets of Edinburgh today.

This morning I had a little more time to myself after the kids returned to school so drove through town taking in all the falling leaves and low sun shadows of the cities fine buildings.

I parked up on London Road to capture this view towards the top of Easter road, with the London Road Church seen on the left. The orange and yellow leaves were falling from left to right and the sky in the distance changed from white to grey and then a slither of blue shone through.

Above shows the street I sketched and below a square crop of the painting which I like the look of. Maybe a print for the shop?

Autumn inspiration has arrived

Shiny, reddy brown conkers mark the arrival of my favourite month

Yesterday I spent a wonderful morning workshop sketching leaves and plant life in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens. The sun shone between heavy showers and my sketcher and I took cover in the cafe, drawing leaves and sipping tea for a blissful couple of hours.

This morning I was still inspired by the woody bits and bobs I had picked up and so arranged a few conkers to draw.

Using only the watercolours I layered the colour from light to dark, and for once I remembered to take photos of each layer so I could share them with you here.

Have a go yourself, draw the whole shape first with the lightest colour you can see. Then add each slightly darker layer until the final line of dark shadow to finish.