“Itching for a hike”
black Pigma Micron pen in sketchbook Moleskine, 2007
latest updates: trees
The Spring Dance – Watercolour with Ink highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine
I always reckon that spring has arrived when the birch trees come into leaf and start to produce the first sign of catkins. This is a painting, based on a local scene about five miles from our house. I say “based” as the small cottage is right next to a busy road and to try to stop would be suicidal. This is, therefore, from memory. This birch always catches the eye and I’ve been meaning to “do it” for some time now. This “lady of the forest” is starting to show off her spring outfit, stealing a march on the other trees especially the old oak behind which still displays his winter garb. The slightest breeze gives her the opportunity to move gracefully like a young girl showing off a new outfit. When the oak has his summer foliage, this birch will have mellowed to lovely greens, yellows and browns as, like most ladies she demands a new and regular outfit. I can hardly wait. The cottage is typical of small buildings in Scotland. It would originally have been a “farm” or “tied cottage” just large enough to allow the farmer’s workers a roof over their heads. Over the years these buildings, which are scattered around the country, would have fallen into disrepair but now they are widely sought after and the new tenants tend to build onto the existing structure as can be seen here. Its a well quoted ambition for newly-weds to announce that they want to buy and renovate an old property when they set out on life’s journey. We tried this, early on, which might explain why we now stay in a modern built house.
An Old Friend – Acrylic in a Watercolour Moleskine
This is a horse chestnut in the grounds of Almondell Park, West Lothian. It is the very tree, over 20 years ago, that my sons collected around 200 chestnuts from, to play “conkers” with.
Their supply lasted all winter. I stumbled across this “old friend” last week when I was out sketching and was delighted to see little change since those long-gone days.
Horse Chestnuts were grown, mainly for aesthetic purposes, being planted in some of the large country estates of the well to do. It is not a native UK tree and seems to have originated in parts of the Balkans (Ziza country). It also grows in other countries along with the “Sweet Chestnut” variety. Perhaps this was the type Longfellow referred to in his poem “The Village Blacksmith”
Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
Its timber is of little commercial use. If you look at my sketch I hope I have managed to show that almost every part seems to grow in different directions. This means the timber has a twisted grain which is difficult to work. No matter. These are lovely trees to look at and are at their best, in summer, when they provide beauty and shade for weary sketchers.
More Funkiness… For some reason, I’m not feeling with the Sun…
Sorry, my scanner is bad… Its a cheap flatbed type and I do not know why its showing 2 line marks on it.. Pretty annoying.. Blah
Cramond Kirk Grounds, North Edinburgh – Watercolour/acrylic highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine
The village of Cramond lies to the north west of Edinburgh. It is where the River Almond enters the Firth of Forth. The ancient, 15th century church, or kirk, lies about 200 metres from the sea. Next to its grounds, the remains of a Roman Fort have been discovered and excavated. There is not much to see but, standing guard over this monument, there are some magnificent elm and sycamore trees. I couldn’t resist a painting of this one, a 150 year old elm. The Roman ruins lie underneath and to the right and, in the background, is Cramond House which dates back to the 1680′s. It is now owned by Cramond Kirk (out of vision to the right) and is used as the headquarters of The Scottish Wildlife Trust. This building is said to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “House of Shaws” from his novel “Kidnapped”
Reprieve – Acrylic with pen highlights in a Watercolour Moleskine
The main tree, in the centre, is all that remains of a old hawthorn hedge along the rear boundary of our garden. It’s actually been “bundle planted” – a few saplings planted together to become quickly established and the twisted trunks, at the base, bear testament to this. I believe the original hedge was planted around 100 years ago – well before our house was built. Its companions have long since gone and we have replaced them with a slow growing holly hedge to give us some privacy as well as to impale small boys who sneak in after our apples. The old trees, in the woods to our rear are infested with ivy and this finds its way into our garden and it was, when I was hacking some back the other day, that I noticed the old tree seemed to be dead. It has been sending up “suckers” from its base for some years now – a sure sign of the thing being stressed. Although I was sad to contemplate bringing it down, I felt that a dead tree might be dangerous. I was just reaching for the chainsaw, however, when I noticed some green buds high up in the top branches so it has been reprieved.
tonight’s the night that the purple trees die….. though I secretly hope that its just cause its winter and come spring they will bloom again.
Winter Trees – Inverleith Park – Acrylic with ink in a Watercolour Moleskine
Inverleith Park is mainly used for recreational purposes with a number of football and rugby pitches. It also has a rose garden with a memorial fountain dated 1899. This the park where my ill fated attempts at aerial photography foundered (see my Jan 8th post). The boating pond, (mentioned in my Jan 20th post) lies to the south of the park adjacent to the Edinburgh Academical Rugby Club in Stockbridge where the first international rugby union match, between Scotland and England was played on March 27th 1871.
My scene shows some of the trees, stark against a winter sunset, during a recent visit. Its a good time to view trees without their foliage.
PS In the USA our “Football” is known as “Soccer” and their “Football” looks a lot like our “Rugby”, in fact our rugby is very similar to their game but without the finesse.
Frosty Trees – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
This was an experiment in masking techniques. I used “Masking Film” in conjunction with a “Masquepen” both items can be found by following this link:
The different stages were either photographed or scanned and I’ve put them on flickr. These can be accessed here:
Stage 1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4295424059/
Stage 2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4296168710/
Stage 3 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4295422517/
Stage 4 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4295422075/
Stage 5 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28475994@N00/4295421585/
There will be other ways which will give the same results but this was just me playing around with different materials.
“we might be lost”: based on a fairly vivid dream