More drawing in Scotland 

My visit to Stirling is almost over and I will be sad to leave – I feel very at home here. The upside though is seeing more of Scotland over the next couple of weeks. It’s a beautiful country, with dramatic landscapes, deep history and friendly people. 

I have continued finding interesting plants to use as reference for my drawings- some are familiar to me, some not, and some I have rendered more faithfully to reality than others. The flower second from top is inspired by Willow Herb flowers, but they have taken on a heavier, more fleshy look. The one below is from the Willow Herb once it has gone to seed, with wonderful twisting tendrils and fluffy seeds escaping. 

I’m not sure what the last one is, maybe elderberries but perhaps something more toxic. 

The top drawing is a break away from the pen and ink, being drawn with water-soluble pencils, something I have never used before. It is quite different from the Liquid Pencil paste that I have used in the past. It takes a little getting used to, working out how much pencil to apply before smoothing out with a wet brush, and which level of pencil to use – I have HB, 4B and 8B. Today I will start a new one of these. 


Sketching on trains

Having a sleeping or otherwise occupied person in reasonably close range is a golden opportunity for sketching. So a train journey is pretty good – the best position is across the aisle, so my subjects are in seats facing the other way. I don’t want to be observed so sometimes have to pretend I’m doing something else, but as soon as they are asleep again or immersed in their laptop, then I can continue. These were done between Stirling and Edinburgh or Glasgow, in my small square sketchbook with a Staedler pigment pen. 

Drawing in Stirling, Scotland

At the beginning of September I arrived in Stirling for a month. While my partner is doing a sabbatical at the university, I decided to treat my time here like an artist’s residency, and build up a body of work inspired by the area. Stirling is a beautiful small city, with large, gracious Victorian houses and a castle overlooking the town. It is in easy reach of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, and surrounded by lush green countryside. There is a deep sense of history, with the site of the Battle of Bannockburn when the Scots beat the English in 1314 close by and castles in easy reach in every direction, so plenty of enjoyable distractions to explore.  

However, I am not interested in depicting landscape or architecture, my inspiration tends to come from the small details found in the environment, so I have been wandering around with my camera taking photos of unusual or interesting plants, leaves, berries etc that I find in people’s gardens or in the hedgerows. 

When packing to come here, I deliberately limited my materials, partly because I didn’t want to be carrying a lot of extra stuff, and partly because I wanted to force myself to concentrate on just one or two mediums. So, I brought a number of different black ink pens, a selection of graphite pencils and my travelling watercolour set. I tore up a large sheet of drawing paper into 12 pieces each about 25 cm square, and that completed my kit, along with a small sketchbook to carry with me.

So, two weeks in I have completed 3 drawings, all using my Rotring EF Art Pen. It has a nice fine nib and is satisfying to hold. The three drawings are all based on plants, but all enlarged and exaggerated, no intention of botanical accuracy, there was more thought given to playing with form and texture, and building up shape with line.