Archive Summer Sketchbooks (part 1)

I thought I’d dig out some of my old stuff from my sketchbooks…

I have always drawn, as a hobby and ‘thing I like to do’, particularly in the summer holidays when left to my own devices! A chance to chill out and relax. (Plus, a good way to have a great big ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign radiating from my person! = Chore avoidance!)

I grew up near the seaside in Scotland so it is natural that a lot of my sketches are of the sea, the boats and the water. Later on in life I went to art college where the best bit, I found anyway, was just the sketching. Watching people. Looking at interesting shapes. Keeping it nice and loose and free and messy, that’s my kind of style…

Many of these are from very long ago. I mean, aged 10 or 11 and upwards!

This is a learning process about what is right and wrong, what works, and what doesn’t. Experimentation.

In the beginning…

The first thing I remember really taking time to study and being proud of. A parrot! (or is it a parakeet??) (I did this at primary school in P7. Presumably an exercise in hatching.) {– Loving the fact that you can see I am practising my signature in joined-up writing on the cut-off left hand side of the page!}


And part 2 of the parrot(?) theme; again at primary school. I remember being very proud of how it turned out.



Seaside landscapes…

Here’s a small watercolour sketch based on a camping trip I did when I was about 15, I walked out on the estuary mud following an ebb tide one baking hot summer’s evening. The colours of the sunset merged into each other and the sea and I cannot remember a happier evening than this.



An exercise in horizontal lines… B&W pen … again aged about 15. This is of the river (River Urr) at sunset and tide out. It was perfectly still. A glorious summer’s evening. Hmm, the effect is a little weird.



A tiny little watercolour sketch, an experiment in warm colours… this is from my head. An imagined place, but basically a scene etched on my mind… an amalgamation of views and colours I know from being at a place near where I grew up called Rough Firth. Basically in summer (July / August) the sun goes right round and sets almost in the north, leaving big red skies and an amazing sunset with very cool, dark shadows of the shoreline rocks on the estuary.



A much later drawing, maybe done in my 20s; a pencil sketch of the bay of Rockcliffe, my village. Love rows of windows. Love architectural repetition. Not so hot at drawing rocks (or foregrounds!) – as you can see. Boredom nearly always sets in. A real fault. – Or maybe someone yelled for my lunch, and I had to go back in.



The view from my house, Hestan island and a few boats and windsurfers, another blunt pencil sketch on terrible paper. I’m really just stabbing at it, trying to delineate the lie of the land and mark out the dark points correctly in what is otherwise a sea of LIGHT AREAS (the sky + sea). Tide comes in at a rate of knots and is always changing the scene – make haste with where you choose to draw your tideline! That’s my advice!



A rare finished(ish) article from about the late 1990s. I really enjoyed painting the mauve-pink colour of the exposed mudflats. Surprisingly purple at times. When it goes dry.



A colour study from one of my sketchbooks:



Ha-ha, here I tackled the view from my house with a manky old set of wax crayons. An experiment in trying to be more ‘bold with my colours’. (Something my granny always yelled at me to do.) [- I showed her a painting one time, and I was really proud of it, and she just sniffed at it and barked, “Hmm! It needs a bit more COLOUR IN IT!!” – something I am not naturally very inclined to do, to be bold and vibrant.] Anyway, the lime green crayon was just perfect – it’s amazingly realistic at catching the vibrancy and brightness of the evening light striking the grass on the very north edge of Hestan Island at sunset sometimes.


Discuss the weather in the picture above: ‘It is very windy, breezy and fresh, with a brisk Northerly. You can tell this by the brightness and clarity of the colours, the wispy horizontal strands of high cirrus cloud gestured, and the whipped-up seas indicated on the vigorous horizonline and hasty brushstrokes.’


A very different scene next… cloudy, still skies turn the whole scene flat and close and grey, with land and rocks just as mute black shadows in a midday high tide (I guess). Everything light-wise is diffuse and boring. I bet there were midges. A horrid day for sailing. Sails flap windlessly on the incoming swell and it is muggy as hell. Note to self: pure black and grey is not right. 


So you can see, for many years I have recorded how the sky and sea colours change across the course of the day and through the seasons of the year, it can be quite interesting. No, I am not Monet but there we go!

Plant still life…

Here I turned my hand to a Hydrangea and some plant still life:



Rose line drawing. I think you draw to try and find out what is going on structure-wise, how something is composed or constructed? – But then I am not the first to say that.



Here I gathered some autumn leaves from the garden and was amazed by the brightness and interest of the bleeding colours. So I did a wee still life painting, choosing to draw in some of the detail and splodges of patterns and leaving some loose and washy. I guess this was when I was about 20 or so.


Thus ends (part 1) of a little look back at some of the old stuff I’ve got hidden away in my sketchbooks and folders from way back when I was a teenager growing up and a student. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.


More soon…


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