Sunday, 26 April 2015

Working through a mountain of drawings

Over the past week I've been back at work and spending what little time I have in the evenings working on this lot. I only have about two hours to do anything other than eat, shower and then sleep as I have to get up quite early the next day. 
This is my drawing stash, or some of it, and I'm currently working through it all, scanning and then cleaning up in Photoshop.  My main reason is because I'm wanting to produce prints and other products but over the years I've lost my original scans or larger files.  
So I've started the long task of creating good quality files to work from.  I'm also going to slowly update the images on my website as some of them aren't the best.  I've noticed that more since getting my new Macbook.  I'm not sure what's going on there, perhaps its pro retina display shows it up, but I want to be showing the best quality I can.

Bit by bit I'm cleaning in-between pencil lines, taking away the grain from the paper and generally making my drawings web and print worthy. I got a Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch tablet when I got my new Mac and it's been incredibly helpful when working in detail. As you can see on the drawing below, I've just started on the tip of his nose. 

I've started with some pretty difficult and time consuming pieces which are in pencil and biro. Both drawings below needed a lot of work to get to a stage which I'm happy with. They are also both small drawings originally so it was quite difficult to keep them at a good quality. The original files of these are really large which was exactly what I was looking to keep a copy of. So the scanning and cleaning continues and then eventually that will result in some prints for sale, hooray! 

I also had a go at doing a self portrait today but it came out a little terrifying so I'll leave that one for the bin I think and instead leave you with two tidied drawings.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Trying out some new pens

My holiday is finished now and I'm settling back into my daily routine travelling to and from work. I'm constantly thinking of drawing though and working out what I'm going to draw next.  Hopefully one day I can spend my days drawing.  I'm very much enjoying getting back into blogging too and although I have less time now that I'm back to work, I'm keen to keep it up.

I tried out my new pens which I got last week from Greyfriar's Art Shop in Edinburgh with some interesting results.  I was mostly excited to use the ZIG Artist Sketching Pen as I've never tried out this brand. I used my new sketchbook that I also got from Greyfriar's and I found it quite interesting how the two worked together.  As the nib hit the paper the ink sunk in and if left for a second it bled outwards. Certainly not what I'm used to with the pens I normally use so it made me draw quite quickly, my subject being my dog Keira. I really like the quality it gives, especially for quick sketching. Perhaps the bleed was due to the paper I was using, but I'm going to do a post soon about all the pens I use and show how they work on different papers so i'll experiment a bit with them then.

Another little sketch I did lately was with the usual pens I use, Copic Multiliner SP at 0.03. This is in my Fabriano Venezia sketchbook. As I've mentioned previously, it has the best paper quality.  I absolutely love it. I'm carrying my sketchbook with me to work so I'll pop up more sketches soon as I get into my routine (and used to the early mornings again).

Monday, 13 April 2015

A little town drawing

Today I decided to try out my new watercolour brushes that I bought the other week.  I've been needing new brushes for ages but there aren't any good art shops near where I live.  I finally managed to get to a Hobbycraft though and got myself some Daler-Rowney Aquafine brushes. I needed really small sizes as I like to work quite small with a lot of detail. You can really feel the quality in the hairs and when I tried them out it was even more apparent. They hold the watercolour beautifully and the detail I can get with them is exactly what I was looking for.

I had recently completed a line drawing based on my home town and thought it would be perfect to try out the brushes. I use a Windsor and Newton Cotman Watercolour set which I've had for quite a few years now.  It's been about eight years I think, so that's pretty good going. I'm planning to get a smaller set for travelling about as when it's sunny it's nice to sit and sketch with watercolours.  I did have a look for a set in Edinburgh the other day but didn't quite find what I'm looking for. 

After quite a few hours of layering up (pictured with with the watercolour set, I'm about half way), I eventually finished off the piece with a few scribbles of coloured pencil.  I often like to do this to add a bit of texture at the end.

The finished piece actually lives in my newest sketchbook which is my favourite kind: a Fabriano Venezia sketchbook. It's hard to describe it without sounding a bit obsessed.  The look, the feel, the paper quality and thickness, it's just perfect.  I couldn't recommend it enough, and you can buy them easily on Amazon and other retailers online in a variety of sizes. It's a lovely feel to finish the day having completed a drawing and I'm hoping to try out my new pens tomorrow.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A wander down St Cyrus beach

My little holiday break continued yesterday with a walk down the lovely St Cyrus beach.  I've been here a few times but haven't been for quite a while. St Cyrus beach is up the East Coast of Scotland, south of Aberdeen and is part of the St Cyrus Nature Reserve which also include the cliffs and dunes. There's a large variety of plant species, over 300 have been found, and this has encouraged many different types of wildlife to live there too. With the shelter of the cliffs and the protection of the reserve, it's a thriving habitat for all the flora and fauna living there.

We wandered along the path down through the dunes, mindful to keep our dog, Keira on her lead as it is currently breeding season for the birds at the moment, many of them probably hidden away in the bushes and long grass lining our walk.  The views were beautiful and we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. The weather was perfect and Keira enjoyed getting off her lead for a while to chase her ball and dive into the waves.

As we headed along up the beach we came across some great rock formations jutting out of the water.  There was a cave that could be seen disappearing into the cliff as it came to a corner but unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of it as the tide was coming in.  At this end there was lots of driftwood and debris that had washed up.  We had a rummage through the stones and I found some brittlestar starfish remains which were so intricate.

I found out when I got home that just round the corner from where we were, on top of the cliffs, sits the remains of the Kaim of Mathers. A castle or tower house type building, built by the Berkley family sometime in the 15th century. 

We decided to have a rest for a bit, sitting on the rocks at this end before heading back along another path at the foot of the cliffs. Keira took to the opportunity to chew on a bit of driftwood.

We wandered past an old abandoned building which had possibly been used by fisherman. It would make a nice little holiday house if it was renovated.
As we continued along we found an old graveyard. As you've probably guessed from previous posts I like wandering around graveyards.  This one was particularly peaceful, sitting at the bottom of the cliffs and surrounded by a little wall. To enter there was a little set of steps at one end. A lot of the graves looked to be sinking into the sandy ground and there had been quite a few moles popping up all over the soft ground leaving their little hills behind. There were some interesting carvings on some of the graves and I was intrigued by the little hut at the far end.  I later found out that this was a watch house, built in the 1800s to look out for grave robbers as bodies were in high demand for the medical schools in Aberdeen and Edinburgh at the time. How grim!

After having a look around the graveyard for a bit we headed back towards the car park.  On the way we saw a deer but it was a bit too far away to photograph.  It seemed quite interested in watching us pass by though. By the time I got home my face felt like it had been completely refreshed by the sea air. Keira also seemed pretty happy to have had her run about beach. I think she would be over the moon if she had a beach to run around on every day.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A trip to Edinburgh

I'm currently letting my feet have a well earned rest after I spent the day walking around a very sunny Edinburgh yesterday. I took the train early in the morning to do one of my favourite things: wander all day and explore about.  I love doing this at least once a month as I always discover new things each time.  I had the dilemma first thing in the morning of whether or not to take my new camera. It may seem like it should be a given to take it but one negative about my camera is that it's very heavy. To carry it around with my bag all day on my dodgy shoulders that flare up and give me headaches didn't seem like a good idea.  I was sad at not taking it as soon as I arrived in Edinburgh, seeing what a beautiful day it was, but my shoulder by the end of the day was already painful so I knew it had been a good idea in that sense. I did take a few photos with my trusty phone though and it hasn't got that bad a camera so it wasn't too bad.

I had to immediately dive into a shop to buy some sunglasses. I found myself in Urban Outfitters and did indeed find some nice sunglasses there, along with some holographic and polka dot nail polish which I've had my eye on in their online store for a while so I was quite pleased.
I then proceeded to try and find an art shop I've been wanting to visit. Google maps told me it was 12 minutes away.  This was a perfect amount of time to get there and look before lunch but half an hour later I found myself down some street which still, according to the map, was ages away from the shop. Thankfully lunch called though in the form of my sister who worked near by to where I'd gotten lost and she managed to direct me from there.  Art shop of mystery was forgotten about for at least this trip and we headed off for lunch at Princes Street Gardens.  It felt like the height of summer.  It was absolutely boiling and the view of the castle was perfect, a daily favourite of my sister's still, even after having lived there for nearly a year.  You just can't get bored of this place. We had a lovely lunch and catch up and then she headed back to work and I headed for a look around St Cuthbert's Churchyard.  As always I find old graveyards like these such peaceful, beautiful places which are of course full of history as well. It's hard to believe now that the church was taken to court in 1867 as they would not stop burials taking place as of course this brought them in money.  The City Corporation at the time deemed the churchyard to be a health risk as it was so completely full.  I can't begin to imagine what it must have looked and probably smelled like back then.  Certainly not the lovely surroundings it is now.

I carried on my walk along Princes Street and into the Scottish National Gallery.  I didn't have a look at the exhibitions today as I was trying to cover areas I haven't been to for a while, but I always like to have a little look around the shop of course. They have some lovely books on drawing at the moment, especially life drawing.  This accompanies a small exhibition of work by those attending their Saturday life drawing classes.  The exhibition is called Body Work and it's on until the 31st of May.  I think when I go for a trip next month, I'll have a proper look at this as I loved life drawing when I was at university and if I was living in Edinburgh I'd love to be attending these classes.

I then headed of to visit Greyfriar's Art Shop, an art shop that I knew I could definitely find! I love the amount of sketchbooks they have here and I noticed some pens I haven't tried out before too. I got    some ZIG artist sketching pens in brown and black as well as some good old faithful Staedtler pigment liners in 0.05. I also got a favourite drawing pad of mine, a Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight, as well as well as the shops own pad with a variety of papers in it.
I then headed towards the Grassmarket and had a good look around Armstrongs vintage clothes shop.  I wasn't looking to buy anything but I can't pass this shop without having a look around.  The vintage smell in the shop is brilliant and I enjoyed having a look through the rails of 40s, 50s and 60s dresses.

After that I went up to a favourite of mine, The Red Door Gallery.  As soon as I step in the door my eyes go crazy looking around as they have so many lovely things. I got myself some gorgeous earrings by Lucie Ellen.  I've since had a look at her etsy store and there is certainly more items I'd love to buy from her in the future.  I recommend checking out her work.

Further up the street I visited the clothing shop Swish.  I dived in when I saw a t-shirt in the window with Totoro on it.  Five minutes later I'd bought it.  I just couldn't say no.  It had to be done.
After some more wandering about in this area I began to head back towards the train station.  I visited a few more shops on the way and got myself a Han Solo t-shirt, because again it was crying out to me, and then visited a favourite of mine, Cutie House.  I got some rather cute little charms for my phone from here.

By this point my feet were in quite a bit of pain, as was my shoulder so I thought it best to get back on the train. To my dismay there were no seats! I almost started whimpering a little at the prospect of not being able to sit down, especially as I felt I was about to fall down.  Then I realised a lot of people were giving their bags a seat...So myself, and others standing managed to eventually get seats, by swapping with people's luggage. A short snooze later,  I was home and having a much needed fish supper. I look forward to my next visit in a month.

Monday, 6 April 2015

easter sunday and some new camera snaps

I always say I love autumn and then it comes to spring and I feel like I love it even more. After the dark, dull days of winter any tiny glimpse of sunlight makes me feel incredibly happy and raring to get on with things. 

I had my first proper walk of the spring for Easter Sunday, venturing up the White Caterthun which is near Brechin in Angus, Scotland. It is the site of an Iron Age fort and has light coloured rocks lining the summit like a large dry stone wall. It also has a well in the centre.  I've been up here many times with my family before so it was nice to revisit it with them again. We rolled our eggs down the side, although I prefer to chuck mine as hard as I can.  It's rather satisfying. 

Our chocolate lab, Keira, very much enjoyed trying to eat all the rolled eggs that people had left.  She also enjoyed bounding through the heather and certainly slept when she got home.

This was the first time I got to take my new camera out properly and it was really enjoyable and easy to use. I'm still learning about all it's different functions but I got a few good shots on the day which I'm really pleased with. I think my favourite shot of the day with this beautiful lark.  They sang us up the hill on our walk and I eventually managed to get a shot of one.  

On our way home we stopped the car so I could get a quick photo of these bulls. Growing up in the countryside when I was wee, I loved chatting to the cows. I didn't manage to chat to these ones, but they were interested enough to look up for a photo.  

I'm really hoping the weather holds out for a bit longer as I'm on holiday ay the moment and  I'd love to go a few more walks in the sun.  Next time I'm going to take my sketchbook along too.