Pentland Hills from the City Bypass – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
Edinburgh’s city bypass, a ring road, diverts much traffic around the south side of the city away from its centre. It runs between the city and the Pentland Hills which were designated a Regional Park in 1984. They rise almost 600m above sea level and are used for recreational purposes as well as hill farming. The hills form a natural barrier to adverse weather – it can be wild on one side while benign on the other. This scene shows the east end of the range as viewed this morning. Although most of the recent snow has gone there is still a fair bit higher up and more is forecast overnight. The lower areas, however, show the first sights of green as the days lengthen and spring begins. Its touch and go whether winter or spring will be the winner here.
Still Frozen – Indian Ink in a Watercolour Moleskine
My son, Ewan, stays in Stockbridge towards the north side of Edinburgh. Margaret and I used to stay there, just after we were married, and I like to visit the old place which is known affectionately to the locals as “Stockaree”. In Inverleith Park there is a boating pond and I asked Ewan if the swans had returned. His answer, “Still frozen” and this is what he meant. This is copied from a photograph taken at dusk a couple of days ago, looking towards Edinburgh’s New Town.
Winter Trees Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh – Ink and Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
Been having a lot of fun making wee videos to test my “communication” skills (or lack of them) This scene is taken from my latest effort. It shows some of the trees in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens. I like observing trees at this time of year since its a great time to gauge their shape without much foliage. The link to the video is:
Please revisit the forum topic which this describes:
An Early Christmas Greeting from Edinburgh – Ink and Acrylic in a Watercolour Moleskine
There is a fresh air of optimism in our capital city. For well over a year it has been impossible to gain access to the south side of Princes Street because of the new tram works. The contractors have kept their promise, by finishing the track laying on time, and it is possible to walk along both sides of our famous street again. This means our famous street party can take place on Hogmanay which is the main festival in Scotland.
This is the scene at the centre of the street, overlooking the castle. The trees are strung with thousands of lights, guaranteed to get even Scrooge into the Christmas spirit. Towards the East end a Funfair and Market has materialised. There is also a skating rink where the likes of me can view those brave enough trying to stay upright. I just hope everyone remembers what Christmas is really about.
I’ve made a small video of the general scenery and this can be viewed at:
When the time comes, enjoy your Christmas. Seasons Greetings – Bob
Ramsay Gardens and The Esplanade from Edinburgh Castle – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
Nothing special about this one except it marks the beginning of an experiment I’ve been working on with another “Moleskiner”. In order to communicate with others, in different parts of the world, we’ve been playing about with, among other things, small videos. This scene is copied from such a video shot last Monday. In the not too distant future we intend to invite, with Leo’s blessing, interested folks from this site, to join our wee idea. More about this later when we’ve finalised things. In the meantime, suffice to say, can you guess which part of the video this scene was “captured” from?
Towards Edinburgh’s Grassmarket from Victoria Street/West Bow – Watercolour in a A4 Watercolour Moleskine.
I hope this scene shows the steepness of some parts of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The area, to the right, borders on the upper part of the Lawnmarket, near the top of the Royal Mile. The ground drops very steeply down to Victoria Street (left) and continues as it sweeps past the West Bow towards the flat area – the Grassmarket. Some parts of these buildings are many hundreds of years old and can reach up to 14 stories high – such was the premium on space in days gone by.
The Grassmarket was the setting for one of the city’s most notorious episodes which came to be known as the “Porteous Riots”. In 1736 three smugglers were sentenced to hang for their crimes. While they waited their fate one managed to escape, while another had his sentence reduced to transportation. The last was duly executed but the hangman, who must have been a bit sadistic, cut the victim down too early which incensed the crowd as the unfortunate, who was still alive, would have to be “Re-Hung”. Things got a bit wild and the local militia, under the command, of one Captain John Porteous, tried to restrain the rioters. Shots were fired into the crowd and six people died. For this “overreaction” Porteous was tried and, himself, sentenced to hang. He was imprisoned in Edinburgh’s Tollbooth (Please see my post for 8th August 2008). In the meantime his case was “reviewed” by a court, south of the border, and his death sentence quashed. When the news of this reached Edinburgh many were furious at a perceived “English interference” so locals decided to take the law into their own hands. Porteous was dragged from his cell and dragged to a makeshift place of execution near this scene in my posting. There was a problem, however. No one had a rope. The crowd broke into a local draper’s shop and took some rope from it. They were careful, however, not to appear dishonest so they left behind some money to pay for the rope. Goes to show that us Scots are a bit wild, but honest.
The shops, to the right of the road, below have changed little but the area is becoming less of a “working area” as the properties command huge prices. Not all that long ago a great wee shop closed after hundreds of years. It sold nothing other than many different types of brushes for sweeping and scrubbing and – wait for it – rope! Yes, the same place.
The Hermitage of Braid, South Edinburgh – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
Set in 130 acres of woodland, the Hermitage of Braid runs under the shadow of Blackford Hill with the Braid burn passing through it. This scene shows the Hermitage House which was completed in 1785 and which was used by the Gordons of Cluny. This building replaces the one sacked by the visiting Jacobite army, under Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in 1745. It was gifted to The City of Edinburgh in 1938 and was used as the headquarters of the Park’s Department until the early 1990′s where it became a visitor centre for the nature reserve created by combining Blackford Hill and the surrounding area. The woodland surrounds a series of paths so you can vary the length of your walks. We went for a walk on Monday and Margaret tried a few routes while I sat and sketched this scene. Its a long time since I was last here but little has changed since then. We are so lucky, in this part of the world having a wide variety of different types of countryside to explore. Edinburgh is full of wee nature reserves, such as The Hermitage. It is also possible to follow the main rivers – The Almond and The Water of Leith for most of their length, there is a vast network of cycleways and the city has the Pentland Hills to the south while the Ochill Hills lie to the north. Further north lie the Grampian Mountains and the Cairngorms which contain some of the UK’s highest peaks. With all of this, the question is, “Why do I need to loose more weight?”
High Kirk of St Giles, Edinburgh – Acrylic/Ink in an A4 Watercolour Moleskine
This is a painting of the distinctive steeple of St. Giles. It is said to be the finest example of a “Crown Steeple” anywhere. The steeple can be spotted from many parts of the city and adds, greatly, to the world heritage skyline, something which is jealously guarded when planning for new buildings. It is probably one of the highest structures in in the centre of the city. Nothing is allowed to be built higher than this. The Kirk (Church) sits right in the centre of the Royal Mile approximately halfway between Edinburgh Castle, at the top, and Holyrood Palace at the bottom. The Kirk is sometimes referred to as “St Giles’ Cathedral” but this is not its true name as it was only the seat of a bishop twice (1635-1638 & 1661-1689) during the period of the crown-backed Episcopalian Church. These days it is known as the “Mother of Presbyterianism”. The church was at the centre of the reformation where John Knox preached and every schoolchild knows the story of Jennie Geddes hurling her stool at the minister who preached using the “Anglican Book of Common Prayer” instigated by Charles 1st. A riot followed and some think this contributed to the start of the civil war and, ultimately, the execution of that monarch. In 1707, when the treaty joining the parliaments of Scotland and England was singed, the church bells rang out the tune, “Why should I be so sad on my wedding day?”
This scene shows the east side of the church with the Mercat Cross in the foreground. This strange shaped structure is the place where proclamations were/still are made. In years gone by, news, such as royal visits, public executions etc would be announced while today the tradition continues giving the date of forthcoming general elections as well as the results afterwards – even if today’s media is faster. This “cross” however, is not the original one. It was erected in 1885 so is quite new, considering the church, and its surrounds have been on this spot for over 900 years.
Ramsay Gardens, Edinburgh – Ink in a Watercolour Moleskine
If you stand in Princes Street and look up towards the left of the castle you will see a strange group of houses perched high on the rock. This is Ramsay Gardens, arguably the most sought after group of houses/flats in the city. Parts were originally built as accommodation for students at Edinburgh University but one single flat was recently on the market for offers over £1,00,000. Although it’s in a great location it’s a nightmare to draw/paint as the houses were built before proper planning laws came into force and they seem to be of every shape and size. This adds a certain charm to the place. Strangely, although smoky chimneys are no longer allowed in Edinburgh all of the original chimney stacks must be retained as they form part of these protected buildings. This effort shows only a small part of the complex which extends backwards towards the castle’s esplanade. This must be noisy when the International Festival takes place as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Massed pipes and drums etc) and the huge firework display (at the end of the Festival) are right next door. Mind you, I might just put up with this , if someone was to donate a house to me, as the views are stunning. No such luck! Ah well! Back tae auld claes and porridge.
Edinburgh Castle from Calton Hill – Blue and Grey Inktense pencils in an A4 Watercolour Moleskine.
This picture was never meant to be. I have always wanted to paint this scene so, following a suggestion by Nick Powell, I armed myself with a new A3 Moleskine and set off for my vantage point, the one which national TV and newspapers always use when describing the city. My objective was to make initial sketches for use later. When I returned home I discovered that the sketchbook was too big for my scanner and that a photograph, of the book, was not sharp enough for a post. Never mind the fact that I spent about three hours travelling as the city was heaving with an influx of people for the annual festival and fringe. (Many locals avoid the centre of Edinburgh, during the festival, unless they want to see a particular show, or like my two eldest sons, actually work there). This effort is then, crazily, a sketch made from my earlier sketch so you can take in one of the most iconic views of Edinburgh. I hope I’ve done it some justice by restricting myself to two Inktense pencils.
Apart from the views of the castle, Scott Monument, Register House etc, the top of Calton Hill, itself, is worth a visit in its own right. (About a thousand tourists, last Thursday, also thought so). My sketch shows the Dugald Stewart Memorial to the right. Further on, but not visible, is Edinburgh’s other observatory – The City Observatory (see my post , 13th July, to see the one on Blackford Hill) To my left, but also out of scene, is Nelson’s Monument. The top of this is used in conjunction with the Castle’s One o’clock gun. A Large white sphere becomes visible when the gun is fired giving a visual as well as an audio signal to ships in the Firth of Forth. Behind me is The National Monument (Edinburgh’s disgrace as this memorial to the troops lost in the Napoleonic wars was never finished as they ran out of cash. The whole of the Calton Hill and
surrounds has a “Napoleonic feel to it; local streets include “Waterloo Place”; Wellington’s statue sits at the foot of North Bridge etc.). There a many other fine views of different parts especially of Holyrood Palace, where Mrs. Queen and the Chookyembra stay when up here and the New Scottish Parliament situated conveniently within sniper range below the south side of the hill.
Never mind. It was a great day out and I got some half decent material including a short video of the one o’clock gun being fired two miles away.
If you really want to see the gun look at my other video, taken inside the castle