Autumn Colours #1 – Watercolour
latest updates: Tormain Woods
Thursday 24th May/Sunday 2nd June – Tormain Woods, Watercolour
A short walk round the local woods always seems like a good idea especially when you are tired and need to be re-invigorated. We subjected our guests to this twice on their visit. Once at the start of their visit when exhaustion, from the long flight was setting in and once at the end when things were winding down.
The woods are just a protective strip of trees, mainly beeches, which have been planted to shelter the local farms fields. Towards the top of a slight climb there is a stile leading to a small hill where ancient “cup and ring” marking have been left by inhabitants long gone. I find this a magical place, a place to loose one’s imagination and wonder what was here millennia ago. Some of the trees are nearing the end of their useful lives but the local farmer, with the wisdom which comes from working on the land, has obtained a grant allowing the replanting of saplings which, hopefully, when the trees reach maturity, will add to the enchantment of this place in years to come.
A quiet end to the year – Watercolour
One of my favourite views in the local woods. It strikes me that the calendar changes, tonight, but the trees remain much as they always have done over the past 35 years we have stayed here. Nice and comforting. Happy New Year everyone and all the best of everything in 2013.
Snowy Woodlands – Watercolour
A slight fall of snow which just about covered the grass in the local woods.
Hungry Deer – Watercolour
Spotted these wee beasties not far from my house on Friday. I was out for my usual walk in the woods when I saw them at the side of a field, happily munching on the farmer’s winter crops. Deer normally get closer to inhabited areas when bad weather is on the way. Wildlife really has it hard at this time of year. They didn’t seem to mind but, when I got closer they were off at high speed. Since it is illegal to harm deer here I suppose the farmer might hire me as a sort of scarecrow. I don’t, however, think he would begrudge a small loss of his crops to help these hungry animals.
Winter Sunset – Watercolour
After our high winds and rain the weather has, predictably, reverted to calm and cold conditions. We either get keen frosts, which last for most of the day, or wet and windy stuff. This is the view looking from the high point of Tormain Woods towards the west. It is easy to imagine how the winds can surge across this land as they get funnelled through the Pentland Hills on the left (south) and the Ochil Hills (north) which lie just beyond the Forth Valley. Its these same natural barriers which normally give the Edinburgh area shelter – unless the winds come from the west, north west. These barriers are also responsible for the foggy weather which occurs when winds come from the east off the North Sea and that is when we usually get our coldest types. Watch this space!
Brrrr is back – Watercolour with some Inktense
It doesn’t seem all that long since I was posting winter scenes. What happened to the summer? It snowed yesterday, not too much but just enough to make the scenery interesting. This is from my favourite daily walk, Tormain Woods. Its was nice and calm but temperatures fell to -4C soon afterwards. Please spare a thought for us, in this part of the world as 90mph winds are forecast for the afternoon of the 8th December. This should guarantee that any remaining snow is shifted – until the next lot on Friday. I wonder how long the power will last?
My favourite view – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
This attempts to show the view, from Tormain Woods in Ratho, towards Edinburgh. This area forms part of a regular walk for me but never fails to impress. The woods were formed, a long time ago, around the edges of local farms. When the fields were initially cleared lots of large boulders, like the ones shown, were pushed towards the fields’ edges and this ground became useless for farming. Later on vast amounts of beech trees were planted, probably as nursery trees to give some sort of shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. You can tell, by the way the foliage in this tree is “wind sculpted” which direction the weather normally prevails. Now that lots of these trees have reached maturity far-sighted farmers have introduced a programme of planting new trees – represented by the saplings in the foreground. Although I have only shown two of these there must be many hundreds in the woods. A promise planted for the future. You can see some photos of Tormain Woods by accessing this shot and navigating from there:
Looking further afield Edinburgh Castle is on the horizon just above the right edge of the rocks and about ten miles away. To the right of the castle is the dormant volcano, Arthur’s Seat, which dominates the skyline around the city. The rounded hill, just under the beech tree itself is Corstorphine Hill, one of the main “Seven Hills of Edinburgh”. More shots of Corstorphine Hill can be seen by navigating around this photo:
Ratho Village is just around the right hand edge of the middle distant trees. My family and I have stayed here for over thirty years.
North from Tormain Woods – Watercolour and Acrylic in a Watercolour Moleskine
This is from a photograph taken on December 26th. I don’t like to depend on photographs but, as I recently pointed out, I am running out of options for snowy “Brrrr” scenes. Thanks to Susan, who saw the original photo on flickr, for putting the idea in my head.
I usually walk, from the woods, down this path towards the main road into our village but the path was heavily filled with drifting snow. I had to backtrack and return the way I came. It all seems a distant memory since all our snow has vanished. The old Scots saying, “Vanish like Snow off a Dyke” (something which WILL happen, frequently quickly) seems appropriate here.
Towards Tormain Woods from Ratho Mains Farm – Acrylic with ink highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine
This is me trying something different, namely some of the techniques employed by Roland Hilder. I was impressed by one of his “skies” so followed his method to produce the washes with hard edges. For those of you, interested, the page was given a thin wash of Burnt Sienna and allowed to dry. Then a wash of very thin Lamp Black was put on top leaving the odd gap where the clouds would be. The final washes consisted of overlapping washes of Ultramarine Blue and Light Red allowing each to dry before the next. The hard edges are, of course, deliberately left and not blended in as I normally do when attempting this sort of work. When I completed this sketch (which was done on a lightly textured paper) I tried a full-sized version, on heavy HP paper, measuring around 12” x 18” ( 30cm x 45cm – these measurements, incidentally are great. Our country converted to metric measurement in the 1970′s and I had to teach using that system. Now that I’m retired I can use inches again). The final version (or as far as I wish to go with it) had a mount added and a photo can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/3946976161/in/set-72157614372478902/
I love working with very heavy, Hot Pressed paper as I can get tiny details in easily. In this case, however, I think I prefer the version in the sketchbook. It also illustrates that I cannot copy one sketch to the next (Note the position of the horizon on each page).