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.
The Spring Dance – Watercolour with Ink highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine
I always reckon that spring has arrived when the birch trees come into leaf and start to produce the first sign of catkins. This is a painting, based on a local scene about five miles from our house. I say “based” as the small cottage is right next to a busy road and to try to stop would be suicidal. This is, therefore, from memory. This birch always catches the eye and I’ve been meaning to “do it” for some time now. This “lady of the forest” is starting to show off her spring outfit, stealing a march on the other trees especially the old oak behind which still displays his winter garb. The slightest breeze gives her the opportunity to move gracefully like a young girl showing off a new outfit. When the oak has his summer foliage, this birch will have mellowed to lovely greens, yellows and browns as, like most ladies she demands a new and regular outfit. I can hardly wait. The cottage is typical of small buildings in Scotland. It would originally have been a “farm” or “tied cottage” just large enough to allow the farmer’s workers a roof over their heads. Over the years these buildings, which are scattered around the country, would have fallen into disrepair but now they are widely sought after and the new tenants tend to build onto the existing structure as can be seen here. Its a well quoted ambition for newly-weds to announce that they want to buy and renovate an old property when they set out on life’s journey. We tried this, early on, which might explain why we now stay in a modern built house.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris – Silver point/Pen in a Watercolour Moleskine
I’m still trying to get to grips with this type of drawing and suspect its my “Grounds/What surface I’m using” which might improve things. This is drawn on a grounding of very thin acrylic gesso but I feel another coat, or maybe more than two coats, might have helped. I was keen to exploit the subtle shading possible with drypoint but, when I scanned the first effort, the scanner; predictably, failed to separate the different blended shadows. I’ve “fooled” my scanner, therefore, by using dark ink for the heavy shadows and this seems to have been partially successful – only you folks can comment on that.
I choose this subject as I was reminded of Paris by “slevinart’s April 5th” post showing the Arc de Triomphe. This magnificent church is in the Montmartre district of the city and the steep climb up to this point is rewarded by incredible views of the city. Another bonus, for Moleskinners, is the artists’ area of Montmartre where you can view hundreds of artists painting furiously in the small square. They do not mind being observed as they hope to sell their paintings. I bought a small, inexpensive painting of Notre Dame Cathedral as a souvenir and the elderly lady artist wrapped it carefully, thanked me profusely then shook my hand, wishing me “Bon Voyage”. We had a “one sided” (for my use of the French language is appalling) conversation – one of my highlights of a visit to this beautiful city. Must go back soon.
Wish you were here – Ink/Inktense in a Watercolour Moleskine
After Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders’, photograph “Earthrise”.
The postage stamp, on this “postcard” is copied from a series from the USA. I thought that “Dinosaurs” was quite apt. We don’t have such a set – our leaders haven’t got around to it yet.
As the UK Parliament is about to announce the date for the next General Election we all are bracing ourselves at the prospect of wall to wall news expounding on why we should vote for this or that party. As I get older, and probably more cynical, I can’t help wondering what those in government have been doing for the past few years. I get so tired of all of their promises leading towards a better future – I am banned from watching the television news as I tend to have a running commentary competing with the newscasters. This, therefore, is my twisted piece of advice to all who aspire to lead. Forget about weird policies. Get out into the real world and find out how the world goes around.