Category Archives: Daily Sketch

Stormy clouds Over Granton Breakwater

Threatening skies over Wardie Bay yesterday afternoon. I don’t think the wet weather is done just yet.

Amazing downpours in Edinburgh the last few days with devastating results for many businesses and homes being flooded, so I do hope you are all doing well.

Last night the waters were calm along the Granton breakwater when my family and I took an evening stroll. The skies were saying more rain is coming. Hopefully it blows past and the worst is over. I heard over half a months rainfall fell in just 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Good for the garden though I suppose, and the ducks 😉

This sketch is available as a print here:
Stormy Skies print on Etsy

A trip to London

Last week the Sketcher Clan took a trip around the UK, including a day in London.

We drove down through the UK stopping off to see friends and family with the destination of Legoland and a day in London.

With so much packed in the 10 days are now a blur of fun and family time. There wasn’t much time to sketch but in London’s South bank I did get 30 minutes with my daughter to sketch this iconic skyline.

Its amazing to see these huge, beautiful structures in real life, and I will remember sitting there with Zoe in the late afternoon sunshine for a long time.

I will include my daughters sketch once she is happy it is finished!!

construction taking shape

A look up into the new shopping and hotel complex where once stood the St James Shopping Centre.

The top of Leith walk is awash with brightly coloured construction workers as the huge rebuilding of the St James shopping centre and hotel into the new St James Quarter, which is due to open later this year.

This sketch is from just by the roundabout and show the new walkway and glass entrance which will lead to the covered shopping streets within.

I remember the old shopping centre being quite dark and small, I short cut rather than a destination. From the looks of the construction so far the new ‘quarter’ will be much larger and much brighter inside.

I look forward to stepping inside soon. Find out more about what will be inside from the website below.

St James Quarter website

A trip to Elie in Fife

On Sunday the family and I took a trip over the bridge into Fife and a drive along the coast took us to Elie.

A fabulous place, beautiful and so pretty with a couple of idyllic sandy bays to explore.

It was a little colder and a little cloudier than our visit a couple of weeks ago but still so beautiful. We swam in the bay ( with our new wet suits on) and explored the rock pools before having a delicious lunch at The Ship Inn, Elie, which has this idyllic view of the bay.

I can’t wait to return, but need a kayak to take back with me. Hi


Charles H Mackie retospective

On Saturday 15th May the City Art Centre reopens with a retrospective of a Scottish artist we should all know about.

First off, it is great news to be seeing that the City Art Centre on Market street is reopening after the lockdowns. Home to historic and modern Scottish painting and photography, as well as contemporary art and craft, the central venue has been greatly missed.

Earlier this week I had the chance to visit their new exhibition about an extremely talented and driven Scottish artist who I hadn’t previously heard of. But I am not alone and Mackie biographer and researcher Pat Clark told me the exhibition is a long-overdue tribute to one of Scotland’s outstanding and unjustly neglected artists.

The exhibition brings both private and public pieces together and is an exclusive chance to see the artists wide range of work in one place, from small Scottish rural scenes, to large Venetian oil pieces.

Born in Aldershot and brought up in Edinburgh, Mackie traveled and painted around Europe and the UK, creating beautiful art using a wide range of materials including watercolours, wood block printing and oils.

I loved sing the original watercolours along side wood block prints of the same scene. The wood block process reminds me of more illustrative pieces, the colours are strong and bright.

I took my pad and made notes and sketches, just totally loving being in a gallery again and the injection of inspiration that gives me. Welcome back City Art Centre 🙂

Charles H. Mackie: Colour and Light runs from 15th May 2021 – 10th October 2021, at the City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh. Admission is free, but pre booking is essential for the time being. You can do this via the website below:

City Art Centre website

Bluebells and Nettles

Bluebells and nettles on the cycle path to school pick up this afternoon. So nice to see a tint of blue to the hedgerows just now.

I’m often asked what I draw from, a screen, real life, a photograph and the honest answer is a mixture of all three.

Day to day sketches are usually made from real life, when I suddenly get some spare time or at a live event. Commissions I often take photos to capture the angle I like and then draw from photos.

Today I wanted to stop and draw these bluebells when I saw them but didn’t have the time and so photographed them instead and sketched this from the screen at home.

All three are useful and create slightly different looking sketches. For my in person workshops I have photographs to work from too, just in case the weather isn’t great out.

Sketching Workshops

Lego has landed at the museum of flight

A trip to East Lothian at the weekend led the Sketcher Clan to the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune.

I love being at the museum of flight, it has been a while but when ever I drive into the airfield and see the war time out buildings and glimpses of the vintage aircraft on the site I am transported back in time.

The Sketcher twins love it too, seeing the scale of the planes and the fragility of the older ones. Its a wonder that early pilots put so much faith in what look like flimsy structures.

And just now there is an added attraction for our two, the Brick Wonders lego exhibition which surrounds the Concorde. We are a family of lego builders and so had to visit and ‘travel around the old and new Wonders of the World‘, which have been beautifully and imaginatively recreated using half a million Lego bricks by brick artist Warren Elsmore and his team. 

The sketcher twins were taking photos while I sketched, they were keen to note how the many shapes of bricks had been used to create these structures, keen to copy and take inspiration for their own builds back at home.

Although we had visited Concorde before, it is always great to see inside, see all those (seemingly thousands) of buttons in the cockpit. Beneath the beautiful Concorde is a Lego version of the iconic plane which is very impressive and uses 60,000 bricks!!

One bonus of the current spacing restrictions, we had the aircraft to ourselves, and the museum is a great option for the current spacing restrictions due to the pandemic. Staff were everywhere ensuring we followed the directions when in doors and there were plenty of sanitiser stations.

My final sketch is this cute brute, a Matador 4×4 truck which could carry 10 tonnes and dates back to 1939. I love the character of these vehicles and love the fact they are hiding in their wee houses.

There is so much to see, and remember to listen and watch the first hand accounts from pilots during the war. It was very moving and a made a lasting impression on our two children. In the end I ran out of time, I will have to return to sketch the planes another day!

National Museum of Flight website

Tollcross Fire Station

A very interesting building with curved edges and odd shapes, which I have been meaning to sketch for sometime.

Situated about half  mile to the south of the West End of Princes Street, this must be Edinburgh’s most central fire station.  The building was built to replace the Lauriston Place Fire Station which is now home to a Fire Museum.

I must visit the museum soon, I bet they have some great old vehicles to sketch.

Fire Scotland website.

Seaside Fish and chips

A weekend trip to the sea side and although it was a bit windy we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed some fish and chips looking out to Bass Rock.

Being Coeliac I cannot usually have a fish in batter as not all chippys serve a gluten free option. So it was a welcome surprise to see that the Rocketeer Restaurant in North Berwick did and I highly recommend their light and crispy batter.

The Sketcher family were in East Lothian for the day and decided to visit North Berwick for a walk along the beach and some lunch. How nice it is again to be able to travel further and eat out. Simple things that were once taken for granted, before the pandemic and lock down of 2020.

I look forward to heading out again along the coast and finding more relish foods along the way!

The Rocketeer Restaurant website

This sketch was drawn with a pencil and then watercolour added over the top.

Beautiful red stone pediment above the caledonian

I just love the detail in this stone doorway to the mighty Caledonian Hotel, now the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh.

Situated at the West End of Princes Street the red sand stone building was originally a railway station and opened in 1903. The station was closed in 1965.

It is amazing to think now, but at the time of opening there were two railway stations on Princes Street, one at either end. The other was the North British Railway station, now the Waverly and they were fierce rivals to the Caledonian Railway at the West End.

I love to find out about the details carved into building in the Victorian times and the following passage about the triangle sketched above is from the fantastic Canmore website. You can find out more about the building on their page HERE.

“The pediment over the door contains an elaborate scrolled shield carved with the coat of arms of the Caledonian Railway Company: a lion rampant. Flanking the shield are a seated male figure to left, and a seated female figure to right; their feet point towards the corners but their heads turn back to the centre. The male figure has his right hand on a model of an engine. By his left hand is a bag spilling coins. The female figure has her right hand on an open book, and her left hand on a winged wheel. Beyond the wheel is a lamp”
Canmore. National Record of the Historic Environment Scotland