Tag Archives: Usher Hall

Zoom sketching with live music

This week my new fortnightly zoom workshops with local artist Cassandra Harrison had live music provided by cellist Laura Sergeant.

Cassandra and I have been running zoom workshops for the past couple of months, picking a different medium or artist to have a look at each session and creating step by step ideas so people joining in can have a go and try some of the techniques Cassandra and I use regularly.

Each session runs for 75 minutes on Tuesday evenings from 7-8.15pm, and we have also been asking special guests to join us and share a little about what they are up to, what art they are inspired by and if they like they can join in the art making. Those joining us have included comediens, architects and professors and most recently a cellist who regularly plays in Edinburgh with the Scottish Opera, Laura Sergeant.

I met Laura a few years ago after sketching some of her performances around Edinburgh and so I thought it would be wonderful to have her join us while we sketched the Usher Hall, a venue she has played many times before.

We used charcoal and soft pencils to create the drawing below on Tuesday evening and it was wonderful to be played to by Laura, it made me miss the festival and all the many performances that had to be cancelled this year.

If you would like to know more about the Urban Sketching workshops follow the link below and I hope to see you one Tuesday evening.

Urban Sketching with Cassandra and Mark

FiveTelegrams brings the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival to life in style

My sketch from the amazing opening event of the Edinburgh International Festival where a stunning light show was projected onto the Usher Hall in front of 15,000 onlookers. 

I was lucky enough to be invited onto the press platform to capture this sketch live during the evening. 

Celebrating Scotland’s Year of Young People and reflecting on the centenary of the end of the Great War the light show was split in to four separate sections, each seeming to swallow up the Usher Hall and surround the audience in sound and illusion.

I love the fact this is a free event to open the Edinburgh International Festival is now a regular occurrence and if you didn’t get chance to see it this year I recommend looking out for next years spectacle. This year for the first time  actors in the audience lit lanterns and sang to the atmospheric music creating an all encompassing sound which made me feel quite emotional, adding to a sense of wonder and inspiration I felt by the end.

Lothian road was completely closed off a couple of hours before the show and as Festival Square and the road in front of the Usher Hall began to fill with the lucky ticket holders I started to draw my sketch in black ink. I added all the detail as darkness began to fall saving only the watercolour wash to add once the show began.

I am currently having a limited number of signed giclee prints made of this piece so if you are interested in finding out more leave a comment below.

Emerging artists entertain at the Usher Hall

EmergingArtistsI was blown away by the talent of Ian Watt (classical guitar) and Laura Sergeant (cello) this morning at the Usher Hall.

The talented musicians entertained as part of the ‘Emerging Artists’ morning concerts, which run on Tuesday mornings in September in partnership with Live Music Now Scotland. Lasting around 45 minutes each intimate concert is just £3 a ticket, and free to students.

I sketched from infornt of the organ on the Usher Hall stage, looking down on the musicians and out into the empty auditorium. My sketch was drawn live in pen and then colour added later with water colour.

Emerging Artist concerts on the Usher Hall website

Live Music Now Scotland website

Drawing inspiration from the Harmonium Project and the Edinburgh International Festival

I am looking for your inspirational photos of the Harmonium Project for a new original work of art.

Unfortunately I was unable to witness the opening of the Edinburgh International Festival and the spectacular Hamonium Project at the Usher Hall last night in person. However I was so blown away by the photos on social media that I would love to create some art work from the event, and I would like you to be involved.


I am looking for your photos plus a quote about how you found the event. Send me your digital photo and a line of text, for example “It was incredible! One of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen!” to contact@edinburghsketcher.com with the subject “Harmonium Project”.


In exchange for providing the inspiration for my art work I will send each person included in the piece a signed, numbered copy.


UsherHall_colourject, usher hall, edinburgh international festival


The Usher Hall, a recent commission and now a print for sale

UsherHall_colourThis is the Usher Hall, on Lothian Road in the west end of Edinburgh. The city’s key venue for visiting national and international orchestras and the main venue for the Edinburgh International Festival.


The building owes its construction to whisky, as it was funded by Andrew Usher, a whisky blender who donated £100,000 to the city specifically to fund a new concert hall.


The building has featured in my WhereArtI competition before, I sketched the lions head above the entrance, the image is below.



Although meaning to I have never sketched the building in its entirety before and so I was glad to be asked to for a commission.  If you would like to commission an illustration then prices start at just £65, email me at contact@edinburghsketcher.com for more information.


You can buy a print of this sketch from just £18 plus postage in my shop.


Usher Hall website





EIF SketchBlogger 2012 b

Last week I was lucky enough to visit the Usher Hall to see the London Symphony Orchestra, here is my sketchblog montage of the night.

“What a treat, back at the Usher Hall for my second performance in a week. On Monday I saw Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream and tonight I was lucky enough to see the London Symphony Orchestra perform Brahms’s Second and Szymanowski’s Second Symphony.

The orchestra included many more violins than the previous concert and as I watched I found the rhythm of the synchronised bows hypnotising. I wanted to capture their dominance over my view in the sketch, along with the conductor who had them all dancing.

Brahms’s Second was lovely but the real power and drama came after the break in Szymanowski’s Second Symphony. Much of that power came from the four huge drums and the brass section. I drew them in the close ups as they silently waited for their moment.

My final sketch was simply an attempt to capture only the instruments themselves, and the enormous sound that built and built into a magnificent conclusion.”


This week I tried something a little different, a montage of the night rather than individual sketches and coloured on the computer rather than watercolour. What do you think? This week I’ll be visiting the Festival Theatre for the ballet Cinderella.

EIF SketchBlogger 2012 a

I was lucky enough to experience the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. I began sketching before I’d entered the building, the towering domed roof and grand sculptured entrances demanded I put pencil to paper.

Once inside, sitting high in the gods, my excursion on the stairs was rewarded with a fantastic view of the stage and the quickly filling seats below. I imagined spending hours sketching just the walls in this beautiful auditorium. Ornate detailing and powerful pillars decorate and frame the stage superbly.

Suddenly a hush descended on the crowd and on walked the conductor Sir Roger Norrington to join the waiting orchestra. Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream was both powerful and incredibly delicate, huge blasts of sound elevating out from the stage followed by the most enchanting flute solos that made me stop sketching and simply stare down in amazement. Energy and emotion that I tried to capture in my drawing.

Punctuated with readings from actors Jimmy Yuill and Maureen Beattie, whose voices bellowed from the stage, the music culminated in the famous ‘Wedding March’ and brought a resounding and lengthy round of applause to all those on stage. Once again I put down my pen and gave thanks for a wonderful experience.