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....