Autumn Trees – Watercolour
Some trees in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh.
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.
Lauriston Castle – Ink
Lauriston Castle, near the north side of Edinburgh is not actually a castle but was formerly a grand house in its own grounds. It now is used as a venue for many arts and crafts meetings. I once attended one for artists who were invited to create a painting of the building or any part of its grounds. My effort, then was not too great but I came across a photograph, taken that day, and decided to use it to imagine what things would look like when viewed from a different angle. This rough scene shows the building with three faces of the octagonal tower shown. In my original scene the left hand face was in the middle and the tree was at the right hand side. I was looking for something different to try as I am in a rut at the moment. Little did I realise how hard this exercise is – but it got the old brain working. If you fancy trying something different such as this – DON’T. You will go mad.
McEwan Hall, Edinburgh – Pencil and grey watercolour washes
I pass this building often and have always wanted to paint or draw it. My problem is, like many 100 year old buildings, the architectural details are overwhelming. If you look too closely at it more and more bits and pieces appear. My problem is what to leave out. I’ve tried to solve this in two ways. Firstly, I concentrated on one section of the structure – in this case towards the left hand entrance. Secondly, I overplayed the tree in the foreground by making it really stand out. I actually started this last year and found the unfinished attempt while looking for something else. Hope it works.
The McEwan Hall was presented to Edinburgh University by a famous politician who made his fortune in the brewing industry. Edinburgh was/is world famous for her beers and McEwans ales and, later, McEwans Export were among the leading brands. The hall was completed in 1897 and has recently undergone a great deal of restoration. The paved square, at the front, is a wonderful place to relax – except when the skateboards take over. The hall is one of the leading venues for concerts and conferences while the university uses it for graduation ceremonies. One Moleskiner, a long, long, long time ago, was capped in this place.
Old Edinburgh on a rainy day – Watercolour
The view, on a dismal day, at the foot of Cockburn Street just up from the entrance of Waverley Station.
Edinburgh skyline in “Turner Style” – Watercolour on tinted paper
Turner often painted on coloured paper. He also painted very loosely just hinting at detail. One of his better known works is a view from Calton Hill. It appears to be done on a yellow surface:
This is an attempt to try the same scene – but 200 years later. The paper used is a tinted Bockingford paper with a rough surface. Just an experiment.
Haymarket Chaos – Pencil and Ink
A quick sketch to “vent my spleen” at the continuing chaos caused by the work being undertaken to install trams in Edinburgh. Although I’m not a native of Scotland’s capital city I feel ashamed and dismayed that this disruption has gone on for years. Perhaps one day we will be told why all this happened. In the meantime this is the view at Edinburgh’s Haymarket, one of the busiest junctions coming into the city. There are four main roads which meet at this point and many diversions need to be used. My late mother was born and brought up just around the corner and would have been dismayed at all of this. In the meantime, visit Edinburgh at your peril.
Goin’ Fishing – Watercolour
We go fishing once a month but not in the accepted sense. We actually visit a great fishmonger based next to Newhaven Harbour. Last visit “netted” around £35 worth of varied stuff. This was the view from the door of the shop.
Fishermen’s Cottages, Newhaven – Pencil
An attempt to try a new (to me) technique when using pencil. If you look at the window bars (mullions) and the light coppiced stems from the base of the tree they stand out from the dark background. Ernest Watson in his book
Course in Pencil Sketching
advises that these thin areas can be created by pressing a “Blunt point like a toothpick” (I used a ball point pen which has no ink left in it) into the surface then using a pencil to shade over the area. The white lines are left. It really works.
Newhaven is a small area of Edinburgh near the Firth of Forth. It was, originally, a village in its own right but gradually was swallowed by the port of Leith which, in turn, was encompassed by the city itself. This building looks run down but my scene was copied from an old photograph. The buildings have since been extensively renovated and are much sought after. Strangely this tree still stands and still looks the same.