Ghost stories are traditionally told at this time of year in Scotland so I’ve attempted to paint what is reputedly the most haunted place in my country. In 1679 around 400 “Covenanters” were imprisoned here and endured many years of harsh imprisonment before being executed or transported. It is said that their ghosts still cry out for vengeance and there are many tales of folk, who are daft enough to go on one of the many “Haunted Tours of Edinburgh’s Old Town”, becoming paralysed with fear when they visit the far end of the graveyard where many of the prisoners are buried. On a lighter note the small Skye Terrier, known as “Greyfriars Bobby who faithfully watched over his master’s grave for 14 years, is also buried in these grounds. Special dispensation was granted, in 1872, to bury an animal in consecrated ground.
latest updates: Scotland
It’s steadily getting colder here in Scotland. As I sat on this bitterly cold day, eating my bowl of gruel, I reflected on the wonderful summer this year. It was, I remembered, on July 8th. On that distant, sunny day I photographed this butterfly on a Buddleia bush in the garden. I decided to paint a copy to remind me of heat and to warm me up. If there is anyone out there with spare fuel, warm clothes etc please make a drawing of them and post it on this site.
John Knox’s House, High Street, Edinburgh. Ink on a watercolour Moleskine
It is debated whether John Knox, the great protestant reformer, actually lived in this building. Today, it is owned by the Church of Scotland and houses a museum. The original building dates back to the late 1400s.
Calton Hill – Central Edinburgh. Ink/watercolour on a watercolour Moleskine.
This is the view of Calton Hill as seen from the North Bridge which passes over Waverley Station leading from the east end of Prince’s Street to the old town of Edinburgh. The obelisk at the left is the Martyrs Memorial which commemorates political martyrs transported to Australia in 1783. It is situated in the Old Calton Cemetery. Next to that is St Andrew’s House, a government building. To the right is the cylindrical “Governors House” formerly for Calton Jail which used to be situated along the extreme right of this scene but is long demolished. Calton Hill offers some of the best views of all parts of Edinburgh. On top of the hill there is a “Greek Styled” building which is based on the Acropolis. This was intended as a memorial to commemorate Nelson’s victory over the French in 1815 but, when funds ran out, was never finished. It has been known, ever since, as Edinburgh’s disgrace. The small tower, at the extreme left of this painting, however, is known as Nelson’s Tower and has been used, for many years, as a timekeeping device for ships in the Firth of Forth. A spherical ball is hoisted to the top of the tower’s mast and, at exactly one o’clock, in the afternoon, drops downwards to provide a visual signal. At the same time, a cannon is fired from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle to provide a backup, audio signal. This can be quite alarming – tourists be warned!
Edit by ‘skine.art…
Found a panoramic photo from a slightly different vantage point, check it out:
East Prince’s Street Gardens. Watercolour with some ink highlights on a watercolour Moleskine.
Prince’s Street Gardens is divided into two sections by a steep hill, known as the “Mound” which allows access up to the Royal Mile from Prince’s Street. This, East section, is the smaller of the two and stops opposite Waverley Station. The Scott Monument stands in this part. The West Gardens lie below Edinburgh Castle and cover an old “loch” (the Nor’ Loch) which used to guard the foot of the castle a few hundred years ago.
Inverleith Park at dusk on a winter’s evening. Quick drawing, in a watercolour Moleskine, with ink and watercolour washes.
The pond, in the foreground, is normally used for sailing model boats but, at this time of year, can freeze over.
Fishing boats, Southend Pier, Gigha.
Watercolour/ink on a watercolour Moleskine.
Gigha (pronounced “Gee-ah”) is sometimes known as “God’s Island. It lies off the west coast of Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula and is only about 4 miles long. This drawing is from a photograph I took when staying on the island in 2003, a year after the local community managed to buy the island to safeguard its future. I remember the visit coincided with incredibly hot, record breaking temperatures and I spent three days, painting next to a small beach with a wet towel around my neck. Happy days!
North Face of Ben Nevis – The highest mountain in the British Isles (4406 ft). Acrylic paint and ink on a watercolour Moleskine.
Ben Nevis, part of the Grampian Mountain Range, is situated near Fort William in the Lochaber area of Scotland. Although it is possible to “walk” to the summit (carefully) the North face is for steely nerved, experienced climbers only.
Birnam Bridge over the River Tay. Watercolour and Ink on a watercolour Moleskine. This stone bridge was built by Thomas Telford in 1809. It links the villages of Dunkeld and Birnam. Birnam was made famous by Shakespeare – Macbeth, witches et all.