Tag Archives: Festival

Deserted George Square, looking splendid in the morning sunshine.

This is George Square, which during August each year, becomes an important hub for events at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Since lock down and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has meant a cancelation of all of Edinburghs Festivals in 2020, then this has left othe square looking very empty indeed.

But as I looked round the sun shone down through the trees and highlighted the natural beauty of the park which is often covered or disguised in lights and stages.

Many of the festivals are of course taking place online this year with lots to see from the Book Festival and the Fringe to name but two.

Enjoy the green spaces this year Edinburgh, as the show will be back soon!.

East Lothian Salt Pan Sketching

At the weekend I took part in the East Lothian Tradition Skills Festival at Cockenzie House and Gardens.

After a couple of warm up sketches in Tranent we headed to Cockenzie House, a beautiful 17th mansion with stunning gardens, plus a cafe, bakery and gift shops.

Open to the public most days, they have craft workshops and studios to rent. It is a beautiful location, on the banks of the Firth of Forth and was looking particularly pretty in the sunshine on Sunday.

I walked around the grounds capturing these sketches of some of the skills that were being demonstrated. It was fascinating to hear the history of these traditions and also to be able to have a go at some of them was a real treat.

I loved the salt pan in particular, the smell of the furnace and the sea water bubbling away was amazing, and so interesting to see an egg white used to take the impurities from the water.

It was my first visit and I would well recommend a visit to their sun trap of a garden and terrace cafe. There is a great crafty vibe and I am sure there will be something interesting going on whenever you come. Do check the website below first though 🙂

In the afternoon I took a group out sketching around the block to the harbour and gardens. A wonderful day and less than an hour from the city.

Cockenzie House Facebook page

One from Tranent too.

Well that was quick

It’s the final weekend of the festivals and I hope you are all getting out there to see something before it is all gone!!

Thanks to all those who make it happen each year and safe travels to all those visiting the capital in August, see you again 🙂 

PS Don’t forget the Fireworks concert in Princes Street Gardens on Sunday evening. If you can’t get tickets there are plenty of places around the city to watch the fireworks and I’m pretty sure you can listen to the orchestra on the radio. 

Edinburgh International Festival website

Edinburgh Festival City website

Reflections of Edinburgh Fringe

This is the Teviot Row House, one of the student union buildings at the University of Edinburgh and throughout the Fringe Festival, the Gilded Balloon.

The building has eight performance spaces, eight bars, and a café and is the oldest purpose built student Union building in the world, having been opened in 1889.

As the Gilded Balloon each year in August the building is a showcase for comedy and performance arts.

I drew this sketch whilst waiting for a show at The McEwan Hall and the rain had just fallen, giving great reflections of the pink branding. It was drawn in my small landscape moleskin over two pages which is why it is so tall.

The Gilded Balloon website

The cow has landed!

A huge purple cow has once again landed in George Square gardens for a month of festival fun.

I’m always impressed with how green George Square is as you have to search for the upturned cow within the trees. Follow the many signs and helpful staff giving out directions and flyers and you will soon find the pop up village of food and drinks tents that lead you to the many stages.

I was there last night for a sneak peek at a few of Underbelly’s acts for this there 20th year in Edinburgh. And there is lots to look forward to once again as the city goes hyper for the month of August.

Here are a few of my doodles from the night as Fags, Mags and Bags made us laugh, Super Sunday scared us silly and directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood welcomed us for their 20th year running.

Underbelly website

A night at the opera, for father and daughter

On Thursday I took my 8 year old daughter Zoe to the Festival Theatre, to see Scottish Opera’s The Magic Flute.

I received an invite from Scottish Opera to capture the show with my sketches and thought my keen ballet and theatre fan Zoe would love to come too.

It was our first time to the Opera, as I said to the friendly couple behind us when we took our seats which overlooked the orchestra who were busy getting ready.

The couple told this was a good one to start with as it was in English so easier to follow. The buzz of excitement was all around us and as the lights dimmed the audience hushed.

I knew Zoe had been to the theatre before, to see the Nutcracker by the Scottish Ballet but I also knew it was the dance she was interested in. I was a little unsure about the length of the opera, being around 3 hours in total including a 20 minute interval break.

I needn’t of worried though, from the moment the very funny Papageno (played by Richard Burkhard) appeared on stage with a burst of flames and wearing a colourful outfit Zoe was mesmerised.

Set in a spectacular world inspired by the Victorian futurism of HG Wells and Jules Verne, this production includes plenty of comedy, dialogue and story so that those new to opera can not only follow along but really enjoy the spectacle.

Julia Sitkovetsky, (sketched above) playing the Queen of the Night sang beautifully and had the theatre spellbound during her time on stage. Zoe and I have been (very badly in my case) trying to copy the famous tune. You can see a clip of the show via the Scottish Opera website link below.

The day after Zoe and I drew these sketches from the night, it was a great way to talk about the evening and remember certain highlights. I liked the way The Three Boys floated down to guide the way when needed and Zoe laughed about The Three Ladies that wanted to eat the handsome prince!!

Prices start at £20 per ticket but at the moment if you are under 26 years of age you can get tickets for the opera for just £10 via the Scottish Opera website HERE.

Scottish Opera website

A Wild time was had in Kinross

Last weekend I was at the second Wildhood Festival at Tullibole Castle

A festival in its infancy Wildhood has already a strong following of families and creatives all wanting to come together and be involved in this weekend full of fun aimed at those aged under 12 and their families.

I first got involved last year when I and my family camped and I put on a couple of arty workshops making paint brushes out of feathers, leaves and twigs that we found in the woods.

This year I had space in front of the picturesque Tullibole Castle so we created paintings of the bright white 16th Century castle which sits on a small hill surrounded by both lush well kept gardens and wild forest.

All of which was open to explore with many hidden workshops happening within, like foraging, storytelling and many crafts. The sketcher Twins loved making mini twig rafts and floating them along the small river that runs through the grounds.

Another favourite was foraging in the forest and trying various concoctions like nettle cordial and elder flower tea.

On the second day I sketched the castle again with charcoal on the end of long sticks we had found. We stood and drew on to paper on the floor, the distance from paper to hand focusing your hand and eye into precise mini movements.

You can see some of the results here as both the children and their adults had a go, which I was really pleased with. It was great to see families creating art together.

I love the whole vibe of the festival, to log off from work and technology for the weekend and immerse yourself in family and nature. Simple really but not always easy to accomplish.

Have a look at the festivals website below and put your name down for next year, I and I know my family can’t wait!

Wildhood Festival website

Tullibole Castle on Facebook

Circus fun in the Meadows

As the festival comes to a close for 2018 I remember a great day at the circus hub.

I was spent a day at the Circus Hub in the Meadows and saw some amazing acts this year. I would say the sketcher Twins (aged 7) favourite was Wolfgang, a clever slapstick acrobatic routine in which two performers amused by tumbling and climbing all over each other.

Although there was proper belly laughs from my two I was a little disappointed in the price difference of just £1 between an adult(£14) and child ticket (£13), especially as they ended up sitting on our knees.

I loved the flamethrowing antics of KittyBangBang, below and…

the spell binding Oliver Smith Wellnitz on the trapeze, below. I sketched quickly as the acts displayed the amazing talents and confidence. It is alway inspiring to see people so skilled and dedicated to their passion.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them both perform as part of the rated cabaret show ‘Little Death Club’. Lets hope they all come back next year!

Underbelly Circus Hub website



Festival fun in full swing

The Mound just outside the National Galleries is packed with performers this August.

I love the colour and excitement of festival time in Edinburgh. The mix of people from all around the world both watching and performing in every available space around the city. It is such a happy and positive time.

There are many places to people watch and I love to find a quiet corner where I can find a wide vista of the performers and watchers all coming together. This particular place was just around the corner from the main entrance to the National Galleries at the foot of the Mound, just off Princes Street.

This is my first festival sketching with a moleskin sketchbook with its recognisably wide double page spread. It was perfect for capturing the crowds and buildings in which all seemed to be watching the acrobatic performer in the middle.

This drawing was made with a fadeproof fineliner, watercolour brush and moleskine sketchpad.

National Galleries Scotland website

WhereArtI 20th August 2018

Can you name this Edinburgh location?

If you know click the link below to enter your answer. I will pick a random winner from all correct entries on Tuesday morning, and they will go on to the ‘Winners wall’ for the month. At the end of the month those on the wall will be entered into a draw to receive a prize.

The prize for August is one of my new Edinburgh Castle Totes. Featuring one of my sketches in a circle design the 100% cotton bag is perfect for collecting all those festival flyers!

ES Castle bag 1

Leave your answer in the comment box below …

Keep an eye on my facebook and twitter feeds for clues if they are needed later today, and I will pick a winner for the Winners Wall tomorrow afternoon.

I hope you join us to play along and keep looking up and noticing the details in the everyday, you never know where I will be sketching next time!

Can’t wait?  Buy an ES tote right now online: Edinburgh Sketcher online store.