A few years ago I visited the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, where the “Night Watch by Rembrandt” is on display. I was delighted to see one on my favourites also in this gallery. This is “Cannon Shot by Willem van de Velde the Younger”:
Deadly Lines – Pen and Coloured Pencil in a small Watercolour Moleskine
A quick entry for this month’s Challenge, this shows a local “level crossing” in the village of Kirknewton, about 5 miles from our house. The UK has many of these unmanned crossings where barriers automatically descend to stop pedestrians and vehicles crossing when trains go through. This doesn’t always work as there have been a few accidents, here, over the years some of which have proved fatal. Despite protests authorities continue to argue that these devices are safe. Once a notice appeared on a level crossing which said, “Beware of trains, going both ways at once”. ’nuff said!
Edinburgh’s “Squinty Bridge”- Acrylic in a Watercolour Moleskine
This view shows the recently built bridge outside the headquarters of The Royal Bank of Scotland towards the west of Edinburgh. It spans the busy A8 which is one of the main artery roads into the city. This bridge is similar to an innovative bridge in Glasgow built to span the River Clyde:
Edinburgh’s bridge is smaller but is similar in design as they are both “asymmetric” with the arch passing over from one side of the deck to the other. A clearer view of this bridge can be seen on this video:
about 3.5minutes into it. This video was shot in the opposite direction to the scene shown above. My reason for attempting this was to compare the nice views, along the line of mature trees with the awful disruption caused by the, now infamous, tram works which are just behind me. These works have disrupted the city for a few years now and, although due to be completed in a couple of years, look set to continue beyond. I suppose we should be grateful that these trees were spared the effects of construction. Its great how they have suddenly acquired their summer foliage after the long winter.
Going Home – Acrylic/Ink in a Watercolour Moleskine
This is, Dalmahoy Road, the main road into our village. It joins the busy A71 route into the west side of Edinburgh and is just over one mile in length. Most of the four access points are about one mile from Ratho so this guarantees a seasonably quiet village existence. This doesn’t mean Dalmahoy Road is quiet itself. It is often quite busy and, because it is quite twisty in parts, can appear a bit nerve-racking to visitors. This scene was inspired by the last few minutes of a video I shot from the car (I wasn’t driving). See what you think – and remember we drive on the left in Scotland.
Near Wilkieston – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
The second small painting from sketches done on a recent bicycle run. This shows the old Manse, north of the small hamlet of Wilkieston – a local village near where I stay. It stands at the top of a steep hill and the actual village can just be seen in the background. The church, which this manse served, is the first building as you enter the village but is now used as a children’s nursery. In days gone by the local manse normally came with some ground attached. This was usually refereed to as the “Glebe” and I suspect this green area served as that. The group of trees, on the left, is a fairly substantial copse growing on ground which is stony and otherwise useless. I’ve often wondered why the minister was given such a poor piece of ground as well as being banished to the outskirts of the village.
The night I discovered Payne’s Grey – Watercolour in a small Watercolour Moleskine
This is a small painting of one of the local farms as seen during a bike run a day or so ago. It looks nice and tranquil here but, like many farms, is actually a bit of a midden, especially the surrounds. I will not name the place to avoid litigation but have used artistic license to tidy it up a bit.
There has been a bit of discussion, in a recent forum thread, about portable watercolour boxes and working “plein air”, so much so that I decided to resurrect my old set and do this with the paints inside during my bike run. It looked so much different, when I finished, compared to some of my recent stuff then I realised that the “darks” were done with Payne’s Grey – a colour in the box which I tend to avoid now. In fact, I got so fed up with Payne’s Grey destroying my early artistic attempts I wrote this (apologies to Frederick Loewe/Alan J Lerner – “The night they invented champagne)
The Night I discovered Payne’s Grey
My Indigo was “oot”, Vermilion Kaput.
The night I discovered Payne’s Grey
Well, what was I to do, needing a darker hue.
When suddenly a tube of the stuff
Landed beside me with a thud.
Now everything I paint
Becomes an awful pain
Each masterpiece transformed into a sea of blue, grey m…u…d.
that she was not impressed by someone’s attempts at decoration. As requested, here is a view of part of my house to explain my own “genius” in colour coordination. My trouble is I don’t redecorate all at the same time so some “new parts” don’t exactly fit with existing ones. Take the picture on the wall. It is by Jytte Mørch. We chose it for two reasons. 1. It is big enough to hide a crack in the wall 2. It is green. It coordinated beautifully with everything until we changed the wall’s colour to a off-pink shade of white to match the pink/brown carpet (which it doesn’t do). Not to worry – at least the green patterned chairs are comfortable enough and seem to marry with my attempts at woodwork for the units are a nice shade of mahogany brown. Did I mention the green, yellow and brown wallpaper behind Margaret’s chair. To draw one’s attention away from all this the gas fire is enamelled black. We have devised a clever plan to bring all this together. We hide everything behind house plants including the large “triffid” shown on the left ) I swear there are Amazonian frogs in here. Just out of shot, to the right, I sit and contemplate the view across the tree-swept slopes of Platt Hill so hardly ever notice all this. It was not always like this. When we first married, and money was scarce, I got lots of cheap paint and used my skills to decorate our first house. Margaret’s dad was lost (almost) for words when he saw the bright yellow walls, the cerulean blue woodwork and China Blue ceiling – all set off my a mixture of brown, green and yellow carpet tiles. He did suggest I flick some white paint on the ceiling to represent the night sky. My design and decorating skills are not in much demand.
The Soldier’s Leap – Acrylic with textured gels/eggshells in a Watercolour Moleskine
One of the best known Scottish Folk songs recalls, along with others, the Battle of Killiecrankie which was fought between Government troops, loyal to King William and a Highland Army loyal to the exiled King James V11. This took place on 27th July 1689. The day was won by the rebel highlanders who accounted for more than 1000 enemy soldiers. One of these soldiers, however, managed to escape by leaping across this gorge – a distance approaching 20 feet. If this seems improbable, who knows what latent strengths can be summoned when being pursued by fierce highlanders waving their claymores (6 feet double-handed swords). The battle was not, as many would have you believe, a Scottish/English affair. Few know that the “Highlands” refer to the west of Scotland as far south as Glasgow and beyond while many Scots, from other parts of the country, fought for King William. In fact the soldier, commemorated in this episode was called Donald MacBean – a true Scottish name. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the early Jacobite uprisings and many believe that the battleground is haunted. As pointed out, much folk music is connected with this period. “Bonnie Dundee” (The name of the Highland leader – Viscount Dundee) is sung by many schoolchildren as part of their history
The actual battle is commemorated by “Killiecrankie” the name of the pass where this gorge lies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygIuVZOQJlc
and refers to the awfulness of the slaughter – “The deils (devils) at Killiecrankie Oh”
Now – my favourite anti-government story:
A troop of redcoats (Government troops) was passing through a valley when a fierce looking highlander appeared on the brow of a nearby hill and started taunting them. He then disappeared back over the hill. Two redcoats were sent to dispatch this miscreant and after a lot of noise the highlander reappeared and continued his insults. Six troops were then sent but they faired no better. Frustrated, the general in charge sent twenty redcoats to finish this business. After lots of noise, from behind the brow of the hill, a lone redcoat staggered back shouting, “Go back! Its a trap. There’s two of them”.
Edinburgh University’s “Dugald Stewart Building” – Silverpoint with watercolour and ink in a Watercolour Moleskine.
This is an experiment to see if Silverpoint works with other media. There are a number of considerations here and I have summed up some of the stages on this link and others close by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4529932487/
I needed to get a properly prepared surface in my Moleskine. I did this by taping the last sheet, of my present Moly, to the back cover and shrinking it tight before applying gesso.
I used a straight edge to define all the windows and edges of the building.
I used watercolour paint which did not work well with the gesso. Next time I will use acrylic paint.
Dugald Stewart was a famous son of Edinburgh and is remembered as a great philosopher during the period known as “The Enlightenment”. He was professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University but it is from his writings in Philosophy that he became famous. He is buried in Edinburgh’s Cannongate Cemetery and is honoured by a prominent memorial on The Calton Hill. The Dugald Stewart Building is situated opposite Edinburgh’s famous McEwan Hall in the centre of the old town. Stewart is remembered here as the main subjects, in this science, are taught ie Ancient and Early Modern Philosophy, Epistemology, Ethics, Logic and Language and Mind & Cognition (this from the university’s web site). The university claims to be one of the leaders in this field which is nice when you can trace the link back to the 1700′s.
Paper Birch (Betula Papyrifera) – Ink and Inktense in a Watercolour Moleskine
Following on from the previous post – another noticeable Birch tree. This is probably not a true Paper Birch as the trunk is not as white as might be expected. When our housing estate was completed, around 30 years ago, specimen trees were planted in folks gardens. This lovely tree is probably a hybrid, or more than one type, but is magnificent nevertheless. It is only around 20 feet tall unlike the native American specimens, around three times this height, where it is known as the “White Birch” or “Canoe Birch”.This one “peels” throughout the year but seems to be more noticeable now. I wonder if the hard winter has accelerated the process of shedding the bark? If it is a hybrid then propagation, from seed, would be virtually impossible but this is not a bad thing as I believe that all trees, in all countries, should be propagated from native stock making them more resistant to disease. There is a programme, aimed primarily at young children, in Scotland where the seed of native species is collected at the end of the year. Instructions are given on methods of stratification etc and the young plants are planted, in remote and waste grounds, when they are a couple of years old. Give it a go. Its a fine legacy to leave.