24 Dec 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone. May it be as joyful as it is for my dog in the snow.

23 Dec 2010

Incoming Storms

Loving all this snow we've been having. When I'm not having to go out driving in it. And as long I've got all my thermals and waterproof footwear and socks two inches thick....
Missing the sight of green grass though. Not seen it for close to five weeks now, but on the plus side I've been very inspired by the elemental colours and shapes and pared down forms and contours the snow moulds out of the landscape. Been trying out oil paints for a change, and trying to figure out how to get my ideas and style down on canvas. Was struggling with a few paintings, so decided to go out with the dogs, came back to the studio looked out the window and saw this scene. (Sort of... kinda have to allow for artistic license and all that....) Got it down on canvas in the space of about 15 minutes which was great. Not a great photo taken of it, but just a record as its now off for a new life as someones Christmas present. They chose it themselves, so its not a big surprise if they happen to catch sight of it on here!

27 Nov 2010

Still here, bartering away..

Hi, I'm still here. Just been busy with life and all that is involved with it. Still drawing, but where on earth has the time gone to this year? There seems to be no time to scan drawings, write emails, phone friends, go for long walks, paint pictures, enjoy sunsets. But ask me what I've been doing with my life and I haven't the faintest idea of what to say that takes up the time. Been trying to earn some cash, got about 4 jobs, but realised I need to stop and take a breath every now and then. 

I have been seeing a guy who's been clicking my back into place and doing acupuncture down the spine, but as I've not been able to afford the fees, he very kindly accepted a picture in payment for three treatments - hence this picture above, bad photo as scanner not available at the time. But what a star he is, looked through my sketchbook, picked a style he liked, and asked for something similar of a Scottish scene. If only you could pay all your bills in pictures. Council tax, electricity, phone bill, food... What a much nicer place the world would be in if all the world was covered in art of all shapes and sizes. Bartering is the way to go in the world I think. Find something that each of you think is of value, and swap. Some vegetables for a bit of work in the garden. Or some volunteering with old folks or in a hospital instead of tax bills. 
Better get my head out of cloud cuckoo land....

3 Nov 2010

Dead but not ignored

I pass this tree whenever I drive into Edinburgh. Its dead and has been for many years, as I've been wanting to draw it whenever I pass it. Finally I did stop, as I'm sure one day the 'Health and Safety' laws will deem it unsafe and liable to fall on unsuspecting motorists, or a farmer will think it's in the way and chop it down, so I thought I'd get it down on paper and commemorate its gorgeous strong shape and interlacing nude branches. A tree in all its naked simple glory. Didn't get it all down, but I hope got the essence of it, and hopefully soon, I'll finish it off in a painting.

1 Oct 2010

End of the season

Thought I'd post these wee watercolours I sold a wee whiley back of some beachhuts, based on ones that are on Coldingham beach near us.

Have always longed for one of these huts, but they get passed down through the families not surprisingly, so hardly ever get on the market, So I'll just have to content myself with my own tiny shed in the hills and pretend I'm looking at the rollers coming in on the beach.

29 Sep 2010

Memories of Summer

On this miserable wet day, or as they say up here 'dreich', I thought I would post a wee drawing I did of some freshly picked peas just before I ate them raw. The taste of summer, a welcome memory in this first proper feeling of autumn. Brrr.

19 Sep 2010

Creative Blocks

Lesley Purcell was talking about creative blocks, and it reminded me how I try and get over them. I had gone through a period of not doing much and decided to take myself off to the woods with the dogs and my sketchbook. This is the initial drawing I did (then it started raining hence the big raindrop splodges), then when I got home I added the colour.

Not a great painting, but I wanted to try and remember the bright green leaves in the sunshine beyond the tall dark trees. I also then found some Scots Pines, one of my favourite trees, in a clearing.

I couldn't see the tops of them, but just loved the bright red orange trunks against the dark trees behind. I'll eventually get them painted properly, but at least these wee drawings got me out of a rut (with any luck). I hope Lesley finds her way out soon as her work is way too good to not be out there!

18 Sep 2010

A study in Ellipses

One of the best things I was ever taught was by my mum on how to draw ellipses. I found it incredibly hard to do and learn, but she made me stick at it and I love drawing them now. Still struggle every now and then, but find it quite therapeutic in a weird sort of way, just drawing ovals and trying to get the angle and light and odd shapes occurring in glasses and reflections.
I'd just like to point out that all those glasses in the drawing weren't all drunk by me... it was after a party and done very late one night after everyone had gone home and I didn't have the energy to clear up quite yet...

23 Aug 2010


This nuthatch was found dead at a friends house and was nearly thrown away till it was said that I would draw it. Hope I'm not going to start being known as the lady that draws dead things...
Anyway, it was amazing to draw, and I had to do it quickly so no time to do a detailed watercolour before it started crawling away on its own. Really beautiful little bird, and I couldn't capture the colour of its back, but the feathers were a soft grey blue with hints of lilac. But what amazed me was its claws. Such huge scaly feet and claws for such a little thing. Like some prehistoric keepsake from the old days.

17 Aug 2010

Dr Sketchy's Anti art School

Finally after a year or two of wanting to and never being at the right place/time or state of mind, I've made it to a Dr Sketchy Anti-Art School. Its life drawing with a difference, putting the fun back into the human form, ranging from the mad, bad and generally slightly kooky to the curious. This time it was out in the middle of the park in Edinburgh, and we got a chance to draw various acts from the festival, from burlesque dancers and their booty, to sword fighters and tea ladies. Great fun, and 3 hours passed in what felt like 10 minutes. A perfect antidote to a crazy week before.

But unfortunately I had to go before the half naked muscly man came on. Not that that was all I was waiting for, just purely wanting to stay for research purposes...

30 Jul 2010

Happy as a pig in the proverbial smelly stuff

So, this is the reason I've not blogged in a while. We've been building, sawing, hammering, and running around like a blue ***** fly trying to get the houses ready for the various new  additions to the 'good life'. So the new chooks, 6 hens from an organic farm up the road, and one very young black cockerel who's been henpecked like mad by the others ever since he arrived. We've called the hen in charge Maureen, and the cock Giuseppe as we thought he needed a bit of an Italian stallion sounding name to encourage him and give him a bit more confidence. He's got one hen who he perches next to, like a pair of little love birds, so we think she may be a Juliet in the making. Perhaps he should be Romeo? We've put them in an old garden hut we raised 6 feet of the ground, and made a wee ladder for them to climb up so they can shut themselves in a night. They all quite happily go up, minus one who gets kicked out by the others so we have to put her in ourselves to deter the foxes.

In addition to this little family, we also acquired a share in three little Tamworth pigs. They're for the chop come end of the year, which is a bit unfortunate as I think we've all fallen for them. (Well I have anyway) We spent ages building the electric fence and mending the arc, and thought all was solid, when within 2 minutes of the weaners arriving they escaped, like the fence was never on. I fell about laughing, so much for our craftsmanship skills. An hour later we finally got them back, three little sows, all stuck together like glue.
They're slowly getting used to us, but still very jumpy, so the only chance I can get to draw them is when they're chomping. So, I imagine there will be many more sketches on their way, next time in colour. As for their names? Bacon, Chorizo and Salami....

7 Jul 2010

Sandwood Bay

I recommend to anyone who can face a 4 mile hike, and an extensive trip right up to the north west highlands, to visit Sandwood Bay in Sutherland. It takes your breath away, and its not just the hike doing that. Its a John Muir nature reserve, about a 2 mile or so long white beach with a loch behind it, and when we got there a thick ha was creating such an atmospheric scene, it felt like you stepped back to the time of pirates and the ghosts of the Spanish Armada.
We had heard tales of the resident ghost, and treasure that is supposed to be on the beach from ships that have run aground there, so we did the 4 mile hike with metal detectors.... like we were going to find anything on a huge white beach with massive sand dunes, but hey ho. So while one of us went off scanning with the detector, I sat and tried to paint the ha, the dogs ran wild up and down the dunes, and it was so idyllic, not even the ghost could scare off the sea eagle I saw perched by the loch. Bliss.

3 Jul 2010

No head for heights

Drew this the evening before we were due to head up one of the Cuillins on Skye. This lot are the Red Cuillins, and I had my back determinedly facing the Black ones that we were due to climb. I love climbing Munroes (mountains above 3000 feet), such a great sense of achievement - and the views if you've not got your head in a cloud are to die for. Well hopefully not literally.
Anyway, this was my first attempt at a Cuillin, and also the first time I've taken the dog with me. Initially I was more worried about her, but she turned out to be a real natural. Jumping about like a mountain goat and balancing on the most precarious rocks like she's been doing it all her life, and not disturbing an inch of scree. I was fine on the way up, a beautiful day, but the way back down, as I've not head the best head for heights, I was clinging to every bit of rock imaginable. Steep drop on each side, and trying not to hyperventilate. Breathe in at the nose, out from the mouth, in, out, in, out. But, they say you've got to face your fear don't they, and I'm glad I did, and now got another fear tackled and dealt with. Maybe not for good but at least vaguely conquered. It could have been a lot worse as my friend slipped down the scree and banged his head, and the sight of blood pouring out stopped my own panic and made me concentrate on his. Luckily not a big gash, so sticky plaster on, carried on down and dogs patiently waited for me to crawl down on my behind, and a very refreshing skinny dip in a crystal clear mountain burn cooled me down in all sensed of the word. Bliss.

26 Jun 2010


On one of the many ferries I took, I ended up in one of the passageways where dogs were allowed. So we sat and dozed and read, and I ended up drawing this, a young mother and her very active toddler who had slept all the way from Manchester, and now decided to be up and active on the 6 hour ferry crossing while her exhausted Mum tried to keep an eye on her.

I was initially trying to draw a young shepherd/part time lobster fisherman, who was in the dog section with us and his sheep dog. He was just 19, but already had huge plans and ambitions. He'd been over to New Zealand when he was 17 after saving up, learnt how to shear sheep, came back and was now a travelling shepherd around Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, shearing sheep during the season, with his big ambition to shear 400 sheep in one day. Last year he made it to 370 odd. He was also saving up to buy a big Charolais bull so he could start his own herd and breed prize winning cows.

I thought his ambition was great, its not often you meet someone that age who knows exactly what he wants to do in life. I kept trying to draw him but he looked so self conscious I stopped and drew the toddler instead who had no such fears, and kept on quite happily trying to wake her Mum up, in between making faces in the mirror, running over to pat the dogs, and stare at people from between her legs. Hope she grows up just as self assured as the young shepherd.

25 Jun 2010


We had a big colony of seals living just off where we were staying. The first night we didn't have a clue what that eerie sound was, all sorts of howls and squeals, so it wasn't till morning that we saw about 40 seals, all sizes and colours balancing on the rocks in the harbour, soaking up the sun. You can definitely see why the ancient mariners believed in mermaids and weird sea creatures and harpies with the sounds that came out of these beautiful creatures, especially when it was all foggy and incredibly spooky.
All blissfully happy basking, until the tide started rising again and the groans and grunts and cries of disgust and shock when the cold water started to lap at their sides and cover their flippers hanging off the sides. It was generally the big daddy of them all that lasted right till the end as he had the largest and highest rock, and he wouldn't let anyone else dare try to get on with him, even going as far as pushing a few off just to make sure they all knew who was in charge.

24 Jun 2010

Literature & Lighthouses

Did these two drawings in the space of a matter of hours, and again, its amazing the variety of weathers Scotland can throw at you on a whim, from blazing sunshine to a storm in a teacup, (or whisky glass being Islay).

Painting not great as not done on watercolour paper but as had nothing else to hand, I couldn't resist trying to capture the dark clouds racing north from the Irish coast. The lighthouse is a Robert Stevenson one, built in 1825, the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson of 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island' books. It was a family business building lighthouses, and Robert the younger bucked the trend and went off to test his literary leanings. I was actually named after one of his books, so I feel a lot of sympathy with him in doing what was definitely not expected of him. A man after my own heart...

23 Jun 2010

Choughs away

Did thison my first morning in Islay, and went a bit crazy with the inks, but I enjoyed doing it, and though the splats were accidental, I like the randomness and slight craziness of it all. Guess the sun and wind and beautiful views were inspiring me to let go. Had also just seen some choughs, (endangered birds that look a bit like blackbirds but with red legs and beaks and swooping flight) so that lifted us up no end. Tried to draw them but dogs were mightily interested in them too so had to drag them and us away.

21 Jun 2010

Highlands and Islands

Finally gotten around to posting again. Been here, there and everywhere, both physically and mentally as past few months been an upheaval in all senses of the word. In between all this, managed a trip to Islay and the Outer Hebrides, and the far north of Scotland, so over the next wee while I'll be trying to post a few drawings from the very inspirational trip.

All fired up with lots of painting ideas and designs, but in the meantime here is my first drawing of one of the 8 whisky distilleries on the island. Experimenting with my ink again, after a breezy lunch in the sun by the harbour, and while everyone else went off shopping I thought I'd spend the time catching the rays and a view or two. Though no drams were had in the making of this....

10 May 2010

And now for something completely different...

Was doodling these zentangles the other day, totally unlike what I usually do, but found it really meditative and great to do something non representational. Good to break away from the usual day to day every now and then, makes you look at things from a different viewpoint. Next thing is to try and work the graphic strong look into some of my drawings..

29 Apr 2010

Hair of the Dog

 Found out you really shouldn't laugh at dogs when they're only half way through a short back and sides. It just hurts their feelings.
 This bearded collie was getting his pre summer cut, but there was no time to finish the 4th leg or his back, so for  the day he went around with one leg warmer like a Fame academy dancer from the 80's.
Next time I saw him though he was shaking his skinny little hips and had a very cool swagger to his step. He felt he was definitely one cool dude. And about a ton lighter...

26 Apr 2010

Fallago Rig Enquiry- Court Reporter!

So this has been my distraction for a wee bit. Our local community has just gone through a public enquiry, fighting the encroachment of yet another windfarm on our hills. We've currently got the highest concentration of windfarms in the UK in an area 26x15 kilometres wide, (currently standing at 464 either constructed, consented or in planning) so we're trying to stem the flood of 48 more from entering the wee haven of moorland in the middle. So, our two plucky local community council members (along with a landowners group) were up against the Ministry of Defence, the Developers, and Government planning.  Its also a battle between two Dukes - Northumberland and Roxburgh just to spice things up a bit. I couldn't get to see the drama every day (which there was quite a bit I hear), but the days I was there I managed to turn myself into a court reporter.
There has been controversy aplenty, with Freedom of Information acts revealing secret meetings between ministers, developers and land owners and  the developer's photos being passed off as recent, when in fact they were taken in 2007, trying to negate the effects of cumulative impact.
So, sketchbook was out while I was trying to following the various sides, and sometimes it got too technical so I ended up drawing the faces and shoes of Joe Public.
And discovered a very smart man in front of me wearing a pair of Mr Men socks which pleased me no end. Little things.

So, don't quite think I'm up to being a bona fide courtroom artist as you're not allowed to sketch from life but only take handwritten notes, but this was an interesting experience anyway. We're all now waiting with baited breath to hear back from the Reporter as to whether we've been successful or not. It really felt like a battle of David and Goliath proportions. Watch this space....

31 Mar 2010


So we all thought Spring was here to stay, just started to get used to the two pairs of lapwings flying in the field opposite, and the sound of curlews over the moor, and the very new lambs leaping with adrenaline and wearing their little plastic coats, when a foot and a half of snow was dumped on us, lines were bought down, phones cut off, and floods causing chaos around Scotland. But managed to get these two drawings done for a local report before all the lights went out. Still cut off from making it back up my hill home, so thankfully sitting in my mum's lovely warm house. Bliss. Gotta love mothers.

27 Mar 2010

Procrastination Part Deux

Procrastination, deviation, delaying, dilly-dallying, pottering, deferment, postponement, retardation, delay tactics, avoidance, loitering, dawdling, humming and hawing, sticking head in sand, disinclination.

Think I've had far too much fun drawing and thinking up words. Think its time to pack up the dictionary and thesaurus....

25 Mar 2010

More procrastination going on here, but thought I'd celebrate the emergence of spring. All very exciting. If I find my watercolours one day amongst the mess, I'll actually start painting again, though maybe that's taking procrastination one step too far....

23 Mar 2010


So this is the reason why I've not been blogging so much. Or at all. These are the new residents set up outside the kitchen window, and instead of packing and sorting out the mess that is now the house and garden, I've decided to draw. And make a fence around the bees. And go away for the weekend. And go on a five hour hike. And make a bench. In fact, anything at all rather than face the awful job of packing up a house for the 14th time in 11 years.

10 Mar 2010


So, February. A month of winters and contradictions. Spring sprung, then bounced right out again to make room for yet more winter which hasn't finished with us yet. I write this in March looking out over the hills at snow still clinging on to the heather. Bees still hiding, but I spotted my first Lapwing at the weekend, which cheered me up no end. Watching them in flight does nothing but good for the soul.