Tag Archives: Museum

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

Fantastic art created in the National Museums Scotland

imagePrize giving at the NMS for this years Christmas Art Competition.

Now in its 44th year the NMS Christmas Art Competitioni open to all ages and runs each winter just for the few days between Christmas Day and the New Year.

Participants are givin paper and pencils and encouraged to capture any of the thousands of exhibits on display in the Chambers Street museum.

This January I was one of three judges asked to narrow down the many entries into 1st 2nd and 3rd places for each age category. Ranging from 3years to 70years the artists varied in styles as well as abilities and it was a great inspiration to see so many beautiful pieces created in so little time.

It was an honour to help pick the winners and congratulations to not just those who attended today to receive their prizes but also to all those who took part and found enjoyemeant from drawing in such a wonderful location.

This quick sketch is in watercolour, from days ceremony.

National Museums Scotland

A wonderful evening at the Museum

NMSLate JacobitesI hosted a creative workshop table at the latest Museum Late event on Friday, which was Jacobite themed to tie in with their current exhibition: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

The Museum Late events are always very popular with around 1500 people enjoying a drink and seeing the museums many artifacts in a relaxed atmosphere, whilst listening to live music and taking part in a few themed activities.

After the success of my After Hours Fringe Lates table where visitors created their own Royal Mile picture from my line drawings I did a similar thing with Jacobite figures and locations.

I supplied four locations featured in the Outlander television series as backdrops and a number of small either redcoat of jacobite figures which could be cut out and stuck on top to create a Jacobite scene, whether a battle in front of Linlithgow Palace or a love scene at Lallybroch.

NMS Jacobite figures

The scenes could then be painted with watercolours before being mounted in a small frame.

The table was a great success and constantly busy which was excellent, with many visitors taking home their own mounted masterpiece.

The location line drawing s that I used on the night are from my book ‘Midhope and More’ in which I look at 10 Outlander filming locations around Scotland. Details of the illustrated guide, which was made with tour company Mary’s Meanders and is a perfect present for any fan of the Book and TV series can be found by clicking on the image below.

Click to open 'Midhope and More' in my Etsy shop.
Click to open ‘Midhope and More’ in my Etsy shop.

The National Museums Scotland What’s On page.

Mary’s Meanders tour company website.

Sketching in the Engine Shed

The Engine ShedOn Saturday I ran a sketching Day workshop at The Engine Shed in Stirling, somewhere I have wanted to visit all year.

Opened earlier this year the Engine Shed is Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre, run by Historic Environment Scotland. It serves as a central hub for building and conservation professionals and the general public.

The original sandstone building is approx 100 years old and was part of a military complex on the banks of the river forth. Inside is a large open space with large steel trusses spanning the width of the building and a number of exhibits showcasing the traditional building materials, methods and skills in Scotland.

Central in the room is a huge map of Scotland which when you hover an ipad above it shows a huge amount of information, this use of gadgetry is very addictive, I loved it!

TheEngineShed montage

During the morning I spent time sketching with visitors and moving around the various exhibits, taking time to concentrate on the details. When focusing in on the details I notice so much more, and take in a great deal more. We all learnt lots about thatch!

The Engine Shed thatch


The Engine Shed website

Historic Environment Scotland website

The Engine Shed interior

Find Hidden Gems within the City Art Centre this Autumn

Hidden Gems - City Art CentreA new exhibition starts tomorrow at the City Art Centre, showcasing some forgotten treasures from well known artists.

Housed in the basement floor of the City Art Centre on Market Street the Hidden Gems exhibition brings together some of the venues lesser known objects from their 4,800 strong fine art collection.

These pieces have rarely been seen in public and are now getting their time to shine. I got a sneak peak yesterday and loved the wide range of artwork on display, from both artists I knew and those I was unfamiliar with.

I left feeling inspired

This is the main reason for visiting a museum or gallery for me: to see the works you know up close but also to discover and learn about those you don’t.

I love the idea of Hidden Gems and hope the City Art Centre continue the idea but rotate the objects. I left feeling inspired and also happy that these pieces were finally getting the acclaim they deserve.

My watercolour above was drawn at the exhibition and shows a bronze in the foreground dated 1903, by Edinburgh born sculptor Ottilie Maclaren Wallace OBE, ARBS (1875-1947). The piece is entitled F.S. Oliver and is a portrait of her brother in law.

Find out more about the Hidden Gems exhibition (7th Oct 2017 – 13th May 2018) in the City Art Centre What’s On guide HERE.

City Art Centre website

Also – Don’t miss ‘Edinburgh Alphabet, An A-Z of the city’s collections’. A charming and fascinating exhibition on at the City Art Centre until Sunday 8th October

The Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Burial

TheTomb room2
A new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street tells the story of an ancient Egyptian tomb over 1000 years.

The exhibition which opens today and is open until September 3rd explores a tomb consructed in the great city of Thebes (modern day Luxor) shortly after the reign of Tutankhamun.

First built for the chief of police and his wife, it was looted and reused several times, leaving behind a collection of beautiful objects from various eras.

TheTomb mummy-case

Large pieces like the mummy-case (a detail of which I have drawn above) and intricate and delicate objects are displayed to give an insight into what the ancient Egyptians beliefs were and how they remebered the individual, protected thebody and spirit after death.

Below are a set of ‘Four Sons of Horus Amulets’ which measure around four inches in height and were placed in the tomb to protect the lungs, intestines, liver and stomach. Also below is a unique, full length, painted mummy shroud.

TheTomb room1

This exhibition is full of beautiful objects and a joy to look around and learn more about a facinating time in history.

National Museums Scotland website

Inspire your little ones with a trip to the Museum of Flight


A day of wonder for all the family, out at East Fortune Airfield.

The Sketcher family are regular visitors to the National Museums of Scotland on Chambers street and whilst there recently twin number one noticed, rather appropriately, a flyer for the Museum of Flight in East Fortune.

A place I had long thought of visiting and the February break seemed the ideal time to make the 45 minute drive East to the former Royal Air Force base.


East Fortune has a long been a training camp for young pilots and although no longer used as an airfield it is good to see the base is still teaching and inspiring visitors both young and old.

In the new military and civil aviation hangars, which opened last spring following a major redevelopment, you can find out how aeroplanes have helped to connect communities, allowing people to travel short distances more easily. The twins loved listening to personal stories from Highlanders and Islanders who use these flights regularly.

MuseumofFlight_propellerI remember Concord flying into Edinburgh on it’s final flight here around ten years ago and it was great to see her again and be able to take the kids on board, they loved seeing the cockpit and all those buttons – I can’t imagine trying to remember what they all do! Sitting in her own hangar surrounded by memorabilia, news cuttings and history films Concord was the star of the show.

The activity hangar full of experiments, simulators and interactive fun was a favourite for the twins, for me it was great to get so close to so many huge planes, and to sketch my way around too!

The National Museum of Flight website

Sketches made with a grade B artist pencil.


The unmistakeable National Museum of Scotland.

NationalMuseumScotland - india inkOn Edinburgh’s Chambers Street on the South side of the city lies the National Museum of Scotland.

In 2006 the two previously separate museums, the Victorian built Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland joined together to become The National Museum of Scotland.

The sketch above shows the former Museum of Scotland, which was opened in 1998 and has a much more modern look than its neighbour thanks to architects Benson and Forsyth.

The tower entrance faces out towards the George IV Bridge, which is where I was standing to draw this image.

Find out more about the museums history on their website HERE.

This sketch is made with a brush and india ink on watercolour art paper, it measures 200mm x 200mm and the original can be purchased for £50 plus postage. Email me HERE if you would like to purchase this piece. 

A Weekend Drawing at the Museums

museum1Two very different drawing workshops at two of Edinburgh’s fantastic museums.

On Friday night the National Museum of Edinburgh of Chambers Street hosted their latest Museum:Lates event, this time themed around their Celts exhibition.

Revellers could take a break from the bar and live music in the main hall and chill out creating Celtic designs to colour in. Below are a few photographs from the night, which was a huge success. The Celts exhibition runs until 25th September 2016.


Then on Saturday I was up early to run a number of workshops at Surgeon’s Hall Museums to mark the Festival of Museums weekend.

Celebrating the magnificent architecture within the Surgeons Hall courtyard we sketched various angles in black fine liners and watercolour. It was great to be sketching in the sunshine, and to share some of my speed sketching tips to a great bunch of artists.

Below are a few photos from the gloriously sunny day. If you would like to come sketching with me keep an eye on my Sketching Workshops page, where I will post all details and links to where you can book a place.

I hope to see you sketching soon!


Celts exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.

Surgeons Hall Museums website.

Celtic creativity this Friday night at the National Museum of Scotland

FramedDesignTomorrow an evening of Celtic entertainment takes over the National Museum of Scotland.

With live music, Celtic inspired DJ sets, silent discos and even a silent ceilidh the evening should be a huge success. There will be food and drink served in the main hall and creative activities including facepainting and temporary tattoos on ffer around the museum.

I will be there with a couple of tables offering Celtic creativity in the form of either designing your own Celtic pictures to colour in, or try sketching some of the exhibits from the Celts exhibition, which runs until the 25th September.

Above is my coloured in Celtic design, and below part of the process. Find me on Friday night to make your own Celtic symbol design.

Buy your ticket to Museum Lates: Celts at the NMS websiteceltictrace