Category Archives: Daily Sketch

Wintry Princes Street Gardens

At the start of the year Edinburgh had a dusting of snow which for me highlighted one positive of the pandemic lockdown.

Princes Street Gardens would usually be full of the Christmas and New Year festivities, including the fun fair land of markets and rides which takes up almost all of the gardens each year.

As the markets and fairgrounds were cancelled this year it was lovely to see this scene, with the only people in the gardens those sledging down the slopes or building snow men under the snow covered trees.

I love how the sun is just reaching over the buildings of the high street and highlighting those on Princes Street.

This sketch highlights the gardens in winter and I hope in future years we still get to enjoy the gardens as a space to have fun in the snow.

View this sketch as a mounted print and buy from just £20 including UK delivery here.

Snow fall in Edinburgh

On the second of January I woke early to find a new snow fall had dusted Edinburgh with a coating of what looked like icing sugar on a Victorian film set.

I dressed quickly and headed into town, eager to see the city centre streets before too many footprints and tyre tracks had muddied the white stuff. I walked up through Stockbridge taking photographs at every corner. So many views that look so different, fresh and clean with snow on the floor.

As I passed through the New Town I had to stop and make a quick drawing, I sat on a Georgian step and looked across Forres Street around the corner of Moray Place Gardens. Such a perfect scene with the stunning architecture, railings and lamps rising out of the snow!

After finishing my piece I walked up onto Princes Street taking more photos to work from, and trying to get the blood back into my fingers!

Enjoy the winter snow fall everyone 🙂

I later added a sledger being pulled across the road as an idea for a Christmas card for next year:

My 2020 Top Ten Sketches

In December the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotsman papers ran my top ten sketches of 2020

2020 is a year that most may want to forget. It is also one that we should remember when many of us took time to reflect, to stop and slow down a bit. For me, looking back through this years sketches brings back happy memories of family time and finding new ways to make my art and connect with people. 

Below are my personal favourites from the past twelve months and I look forward to sharing my sketches in 2021, hopefully with more crowds and live events. Keep playing the WhereArtI quiz every Monday on my website and in the printed Edinburgh Evening News. Thank you for your continued support. Mark, ES

1. Meadows Blossom

The year started so innocently, I was full of enthusiasm for a fresh start and trying new ways to make art, and this watercolour of the Meadows blossom was an experiment in not using the black ink as usual, instead light pencil and watercolour. 

2. Just To Say gift cards

And then, due to the Covid 19 outbreak, we went into lockdown early in March. At first I wondered what to do and how to continue my artwork from home. I thought a lot about how people couldn’t see each other anymore and wanted a way to help people connect with each other through art. I created individualised hand painted gift cards with personal messages on them. 

They were very popular and by giving a percentage to the NHS Covid fund I was able to donate over £350 and also keep myself busy through those early days. 

3. Lockdown Bedroom / Office

As lockdown continued I sketched from my house, capturing homeschooling and our daily walks, regular life which I could share to show how most of us were going through a similar experience. I know many people related to this sketch of my bedroom/office. 

4. Empty Princes Street

Once we could take longer daily walks I ventured into the city centre and it was amazing to see how empty the streets were. With all the shops closed and the buses not running this was the scene on Princes Street. 

5. NHS Rainbow Windows

For my family one of the highlights of our daily walks around our area was seeing the colourful and creative rainbow windows people were displaying in the houses. They were great to spot and also a reminder of how the community was going through this pandemic together. 

6. Zoom Workshops

Like many people I hadn’t heard of Zoom before 2020, but during lockdown I used it for home schooling and also for a new venture with fellow artist Cassandra Harrison. Together we started a fortnightly online art workshop where people can join in and draw together from anywhere in the world, so long as they had connection to the internet. It has been a learning curve but great to be in touch and drawing together again. This sketch is of the Usher Hall, drawn from a photograph using charcoal. 

7. Festival Cancelled

For the first time in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s seven-decade history there was of course no Fringe program in August. Knowing how busy and full of life the Royal Mile usually is at that time it was so strange to see it deserted. This watercolour captured the sombre mood as well as a passer by wearing a face mask, which at the time were still quite rare. 

8. Water of Leith

During the lockdown my outdoor sketching was practically non existent, with no sketching workshops to run or live events to cover it was hard not having that outlet. This sketch from the Water of Leith near Stockbridge was one of my first where I could just relax, take my time and capture the views in front of me again. It was great to be back!

9. Support A Business Sketch 

As the shops started to reopen in Edinburgh, I started visiting the few independent gift shops that sell my city merchandise. It was a pretty grim tale as although most were glad to be open again and able to sell, customers were still uneasy about returning to shopping on the high street and so business was slow for many.

I thought I could support local independent businesses by sketching their shop fronts and sharing them through my social media to highlight the need for support through the local community in order to survive. I continue to do this using the hashtag #supportasmallbusinesssketch

10. Leith Theatre

Another industry heavily affected by the lockdown is the theatre and events industry.I was recently commissioned to spend a few days sketching Leith Theatre, which is currently empty and falling into disrepair. I spent a couple of days capturing both the inside and out of this beautiful venue. This watecolour was drawn in the main hall. 

Steps on a shortcut

A link between streets and some beautiful iron work hidden away from the main road.

These steps at the top of Easter Road where once a twice daily sight for me as I walked to and from work. I love the iron work and the fact they are hidden away at the bottom on a dead end street.

Just by the previous primary school, which is now Abbeymount Studios, these steps lead up from West Norton Place to Melrose Terrace, providing a small short cut from Easter Road into Abbeyhill.

I have walked the street in all weathers and t all times of the year, but this week I drove up the road and sat to draw this sketch in the warmth!

You can buy a signed print of this sketch HERE

Returning support shown

This is Aquila in Jeffrey Street, just off the Royal Mile.

Eve who runs this lovely shop was one of the first people to take my work and show it in their shop.

I remember being so happy, and thinking how maybe I could make a living out of drawing. It gave me such a boost to carry on.

Small independent shops are so important, not just to make our home towns unique and worth visiting, but also to encourage and support local artists, crafters and makers.

We need to support these special businesses this year more than ever, so please do pop in and say hello, have a browse and if you can buy something for that helps a local business and a local maker 😊👍

Autumn colours from Inverleith Park

Today I had a walk back from the city through the park and picked up a few items to draw once home.

This autumnal still life was so rich with colour and I took my time with the cross hatching catching the dark and light tonal work.

I than added the watercolour wash trying my best to capture the rich hues on show, which changed as the afternoon went on in front of my eyes.

Have a go capturing the wonderful colours that are all around us this month.

These sketches are available as both prints and merchandise and also in some cases as original artwork. If you can’t find a particular item in my shop then you can contact me at

A peaceful wander around Inverleith Park

Inverleith Park in the North of the city has been a favourite walk of mine for many a year, and the pond at the bottom a great place to sit and watch the city.

Not far from my home sits this park which I have jogged and cycled and walked around so many times. My children learnt to ride their bikes here, and before that my wife and I would push their buggy to the coffee van.

It’s a slight divertion well worth taking on the way into town, and it has many great views. The disney palace, the city skyline and this one of peace and calm across the pond.

These sketches are available as both prints and merchandise and also in some cases as original artwork. If you can’t find a particular item in my shop then you can contact me at

Autumn arrives in the capital

I may be late to the party but Autumn has caught me by surprise this year. And now my walks are filled with every shade of orange.

This time of year has always been my favourite, I’m a sucker for Christmas and favour a snuggle in front of a warm fire to stripping off in the sunshine!

But mostly I love the colours that envelope our land through the month of September and turn everything a gorgeous burnt shade of orange. I long for a trip into the Highlands or to be honest any close countryside just for a day or a few hours so I can soak up the wonder and inspiration of mother nature.

This may be the first of many crispy leaf drawings 🙂

These sketches are available as both prints and merchandise and also in some cases as original artwork. If you can’t find a particular item in my shop then you can contact me at

Early morning walk along the Water Of Leith

This morning the kids and I decided to walk to school and afterwards I thought I’d keep on walking.

I’m lucky enough to live near the Water of Leith river that runs though the city and I joined it in St Stephens Park and headed along to Stockbridge.

This is the view from one of the walk bridges near to Canonmills and although I was caught in a shower half way through the rain stopped long enough for me to finish the sketch with watercolour.

Watercolour workshops online

This week I took part in our second ‘Urban Sketching with Edinburgh Sketcher and Cassandra Harrison’ workshop on Zoom and had a great time.

Local artist and teach Cassandra Harrison and I thought we would set up an online fortnightly workshop where people could join us and create artwork looking at different mediums and techniques.

We will be sharing our tips and skills learnt over the years and also inviting guests on to share their thoughts about art and the city of Edinburgh.

We hope this will grow into a small community of creative types at all levels who can then share and learn together twice a month.

This week we were joined by comedien and Leither Jo Caulfield who introduced three of her favourite Leith buildings, which we all then captured in watercolours.

Above are my drawings as I showed people how to layer watercolour washes, leaving each one to dry and working on all three at the same time.

The results were amazing and to see some of the art out workshops produced go to the workshop facebook page at Urban Sketching with Edinburgh Sketcher and Cassandra Harrison

Above is a screen shot of our artists on zoom. If you have been on my ‘in person’ workshops in Edinburgh before then you will know that I always like to get a photo of everyones drawings at the end. It is a great way to see everyones unique take on the same subject, and to see how they all have merits. This is the zoom equivalent!

Join us on the next workshop by booking a place via the link below, each 75 minute class is £10 (£7.50 concessions) and on the 1st September we have architect David Blaikie joining us.

Read more and book your place here.