Drawing in the Dark

Just returned from a fantastic weekend in sunny Dumfries for the first ever Ukulele Festival of Scotland.

What a great festival: brilliant venue (Easterbrook Hall and Crichton Church), effectively organised, and the diversity and standard of all the bands/individuals was superb. Well done to Linda and Stewart Butterworth (co-festival Directors) for all their organisation. Looking forward already to doing it all again next year.

Rather than just sit passively in awe at what some people can do with a ukulele, however, I like to take advantage of the parade of figures in front of me for a bit of people drawing (I won’t call it “Life Drawing” for there was no one actually naked. Not that I saw anyway :o)

The challenge is to catch something of the performers:  a) from a distance with the wummin in front and her big buffoned hairdo keeping leaning over to whisper in the lug of her paramour, b)when the musicians keep diving about as the music takes them, c) the house lights are down and I’m using guesswork to a fair degree, and d) the effects of that dinner wine is still having it’s wicked way with me.

Here’s a small sampler:

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Zahra Lowzley was playing what she called her “alien” uke.

The Mersey Belles (cousins Pearl and Nancy) who were much more lively and entertaining than my rather static sketch suggests.

Brothers Tim & Jake Smithies of Dead Mans Uke so named after yer actual resonator ukulele which belonged to Tiny Tim.

Sarah Kelly who not only won the New Performers Competition but must also get the prize for best dressed uker with her coifed hair and long pink frock.

Finally, I should mention the brilliant (in more ways than one) compère Paul L Martin who was got up like a Circus Master of Ceremonies with his red coat and top hat so much so that I simply couldn’t do him justice. Gay as the Lanark Lanimer Day bunting he kept us all well amused!

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South Bridge

The big freeze continues although bright sunshine still makes it a much better day for sketching than working in the studio.

Hopefully when the dreich weather returns I’ll be confined to barracks and so will try to convert some of these sketches into paintings. Personally I would rather paint direct from the subject but it’s too far for me to humpf painting gear the length of Calderglen, so I content myself with sketching.

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“South Bridge”, mixed media in sketchbook, 2xA5.

The bridge is unfortunately closed off at the moment because of the danger of rockfalls further along the track.

Winter Walk

A woodland walk in winter, up through the glen, over the bridge at Horseshoe Falls and down along the riverbank where fallen trees block the flow creating new, deeper pools.

A male Great Tit calls as clear as a bell in the stillness of the wood reminding me of  Shelley’s inspired observation in his ‘Ode To The West Wind’: “If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”.

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“Winter Walk in the Woods”, mixed media in sketchbook, A5.

(The wee buddy walking on the path less trodden is my darling wife, Jacqueline, whom I often use in sketches for scale. This, however, may be a bit unhelpful to the unaccustomed observer since she is only five-foot-two :o)

Fiddler’s Bar

Back in October whenever my drouth was needing slaking after a long day out in the hills of Arran painting I would repair, with my darling wife, to Fiddlers Bar and Bistro in Brodick for a pint of Bellhaven Black. The food is good too but for me the real attraction is the variety of live music they play every night.

With many fantastic bands and musicians the real star is Donal, part owner of
the bar(?), and nightly fiddle accompaniment (hence the name: Fiddler’s Bar):

Sam the Skull                        “Donal Playing ‘Sam the Skull'”, pencil in sketchbook, A6.

Waiting for the Federals                             “Waiting for the Federals”, pencil in sketchbook, A6.

I love his fantastic ability to improvise on any tune.

Arran Sketchbook 3

On the North side of Glen Sannox stands the mighty Suidhe Fhearghas, or Seat of Fergus, and behind at more than 200m higher, the jagged crown of Abnail’s Castle – Caisteal Abnail.

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Mixed medial (pencil, watercolours, and Neocolours II) in sketchbook, A5x2.

I wonder what Fergus, on his lofty seat, scraping his napper off the sky blue, or Abnail in his black ivory tower, would have made of me on my wee canvas fold-a-way seat muttering about the privations an artist in the wild has to put up with including the crick in my neck from peering so far upwards!

Torr Reamhar

On the road over to Lochranza I stop in a small car park/lay-by, set up my easel, and launch into an unaccustomed sketch A2 size rather than in a small sketchbook.

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“Torr Reamhar”, Mixed media on paper (charcoal and acrylics), 42x59cm.

Of course the minute I set up an easel in a car park I attract attention from all and sundry whose mother/daughter/niece draws and paints (is it only girls that do this kinda thing?), and how wonderful they are, which I don’t really mind but since they are interrupting me mid-flight would prefer they told me how wonderful I was.

Just as well I know it for myself :o)