Farm Scene – Watercolour
Trying some soft Autumnal colours. Might do this again when it snows
A quick one before they all go – Watercolour
This was done, in 1 hour, after a news programme about a disease effecting our native ash trees. This disease, Charala fraxinea – better knowns as “Ash Die Back” has been rife on the continent of Europe but we have escaped it until now. It seems to be one of these diseases which destroys tree leafs and the tree cannot recover. Ash trees make up around 20% of our native hardwoods so its important that everyone becomes familiar with this blight and reports it. About 25 years ago Dutch Elm disease did so much damage here. A good link to study is:
I painted this from a photograph taken recently on one of my many trips. It shows a copse of ash next to a lochside.
Incidentally, there has been a huge loss of ash in the USA but this is mainly due to an imported wood boring beetle originating from the far east.
Some Autumnal Colours – Watercolour
This is a small oak sapling growing at the back of my garden. It usually blends into the background of thorns and hedges but its few leaves have started to stand out as they wither. I planted this, from a small seedling which found its way into my garden, a few years ago. The “tree” is now around 4 feet tall and is starting to gain in height more rapidly. I am very fond of trees so this is a sort of legacy. In future years, people will gaze at a magnificent oak and marvel at it size and beauty. They will also say, “What idiot planted that so close to the house?”
Falling Water – Watercolour
Although this might suggest a large waterfall it is, in reality, just a large puddle with lots of Autumn debris lying close by.
The “Sea Wall Steps” Kirkcaldy – Ink
Kirkcaldy, where I was born and brought up, is know as the “Lang Toon” (long town) because it is long and thin, running along the north shores of the Firth of Forth. In 1922 the whole length of this esplanade had a wall built to keep stormy seas at bay. The building work was designed to relieve chronic unemployment. At the east end, next to the harbour, are these huge concrete steps which allow access to the beach. I have an old photograph showing hundreds of people sitting on these steps listening to a concert party.
I have fond memories of this structure. In 1957 my father arranged for me to join the local swimming club in order to lean to swim I was only 10 years old. My first night there is as clear as a bell. I was asked, by Bill Henderson, to lie on my stomach on a wooden bench where he taught me the breast stroke. We then went over to the steps and down to the beach. I lay flat in the water and Bill supported my chin in his hand. After a while he withdrew his hand and I was off. I was swimming after 15 minutes.
This picture was started after a recent visit to my home town. The steps are all cracked and broken and everything looks so different. Did I imagine all of this past stuff?
Autumn Colours – Watercolour
Although our trees are not as spectacular, in their Autumn colours, as in other places (e.g. the “Fall” in USA) we can sometimes get a decent show. This is part of the shoreline of Loch Tay in Perthshire near the village of Killin. There are not many bright reds and oranges in our Autumn trees but this particular area can boast quite a variety of native hard-woods as well as the ubiquitous conifers. The further north one travels, the more the conifers take over so this is a kind of boundary country. Well work visiting – when its not too wet.
Falls of Glomach – Inktense
The Falls of Glomach, literally the “Gloomy Falls”, are situated in Wester Ross, north of The Kintail Mountain Range. This is on the Scottish Mainland and opposite the Isle of Skye.
Being a mountainous and wet part of the country its no surprise that there are many waterfalls and the Glomach Falls are probably the highest in the UK, although some debate this. They have a vertical height of 375 feet and surge down through a narrow cleft, through a “horseshoe, at the edge of a plateau. Not many people have actually visited this place as it requires a long hike across rugged ground to get here. Like other falls they are at their best after heavy rain but this has a downside in this case. The bottom section is contained in a narrow gorge and heavy rain explodes into a cloudy mist obscuring the bottom half. In fact my sketch shows the top section only – the first 140 or so feet.
The whole scene reinforces good advice, for mountaineers, about following streams and rivers down slopes. Many used to think this guaranteed a route off the mountain but there have been many fatalities when walkers got trapped in places like this. Believe it or not, there is an old, Victorian guide book which suggests that the long hike can be avoided by taking a quicker route to the foot of the falls then climbing up the steep slope to get a better view.
Bakehouse Close – Ink
This charming wee place is one of the many closes off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, in this case its in the Cannongate section of the thoroughfare. The buildings are used, today, as part of the Royal Museum of Scotland and there is I fine collection of silverware in the eastern section. Not so long ago these were run-down and dilapidated buildings – my sketch is from an old print circa 1860. Although closes seem to suggest that the buildings are close together the name actually comes from the fact that the courtyard, where the viewpoint of this scene is taken from, could be “closed” at night, probably by an iron gate thus protecting the properties inside.
Fleshmarket Close, Edinburgh – Ink
This view of one of the old “Closes” is from an old print dated 1845. The closes, so named after the passageways formed by high buildings close to each other, were used for general passageways as well as for trading. Although there are no traders and people in this scene Fleshmarket Close would have been teeming with butchers plying their trade. It must have been a pretty insanitary place in the old days. In bygone many, many people were crammed into these buildings but today, Its interesting to note that the properties are much sought after. One tiny building, with one bedroom, is currently up for rent of around £1,000 per month. Fleshmarket Close has one of the smallest pubs in the city halfway down the steep street. It is called, appropriately, the Halfway House.